Can Cranberry Juice Kill H. Pylori Bacteria in Infected People?
Can fresh cranberry juice and cranberry extract kill H pylori in people who have been infected with this potentially harmful bacterium? Let's find out.
Why do we need new methods for treating H pylori infections?
Over half of the world's population is infected with Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), a bacterium that lives in the upper gastrointestinal track of the infected people. H pylori can cause serious damage to the body, and in the worst case, it can cause peptic ulcers or even gastric cancer. Although H pylori infections can usually be cured with antibiotics, researchers are constantly looking for alternative treatments as H pylori strains are becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotic drugs. If you've been following the scientific discussions on new treatments for H pylori infections, you may have already heard about studies investigating the potential H pylori fighting properties of turmeric root.
How good is cranberry juice as a treatment for H pylori infections?
But guess what, turmeric is hardly the only natural source of H pylori fighting compounds. Several in vitro experiments have shown that cranberry extracts suppress H pylori in test tubes, and now there's even evidence suggesting that people infected with H pylori may reap extra health benefits by drinking cranberry juice. A team of Chinese scientists recruited 225 adults infected with H pylori for a prospective, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial (in the end, 189 of the 225 recruited participants completed the study). The participants, all of whom were from the Shandong province of China, were randomly assigned to receive either cranberry juice or a placebo beverage. The degree of H. pylori infection was determined using the 13C-urea breath test at the beginning, during, and at the end of the treatment. Thirty-five days after the beginning of the trial, 14% of the participants in the cranberry juice treatment group had negative 13C-urea breath test results, compared with 5% of the participants in the placebo group. The researchers concluded that regular consumption of cranberry juice can suppress H. pylori infection in endemically-infected populations.
Oregano, blueberry, and grape seed extracts boost the H pylori killing properties of cranberries
Many functional foods and drinks work synergistically, meaning that their health-protecting action combined is greater than the sum of their actions taken separately. This is also the case for cranberry juice. A study that appeared in the December 2005 issue of the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology found that the H pylori fighting properties of cranberry phytochemicals were stronger when combined with oregano phytochemicals. Another study, published in the April 2005 issue of the journal Process Biochemistry, reported that the anti-H. pylori activity of cranberry juice extract was also significantly improved when combined with blueberry or grape seed extracts.
1. Lian Zhang (2005). Efficacy of Cranberry Juice on Helicobacter pylori Infection: a Double-Blind, Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial. Helicobacter, Volume 10, Issue 2, pages 139-145, April 2005.
2. Y. T. Lin et al (2005). Inhibition of Helicobacter pylori and Associated Urease by Oregano and Cranberry Phytochemical Synergies. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. December 2005 vol. 71 no. 12.
3. D. A. Vattem (2005). Cranberry synergies for dietary management of Helicobacter pylori infections. Process Biochemistry, Volume 40, Issue 5, April 2005, Pages 1583-1592.