Cranberries can naturally cure gastro problems: Study

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If you love cranberries, there is yet another reason to celebrate. Eating these berries does not just help in boosting immunity, cleaning the gut or handling UTI, it has now also been linked with reduced gastrointestinal problems.

A new clinical trial found consuming cranberry juice containing 44 mg of proanthocyanidins (or “PACs”) per 240-mL serving twice daily for eight weeks resulted in a 20% reduction in the H. pylori infection rate in adult participants, when compared to those consuming lower amounts of juice and a placebo. While more research is needed, these findings published in the Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, a top international gastroenterology journal, show that twice daily consumption of 44 mg PAC cranberry juice has the potential to be a natural, complementary management strategy for adults in this population infected with H. pylori.

H. pylori bacterial infection is of worldwide concern due to its high global prevalence rate of over 80% in some developing countries and potential to cause stomach ulcers, which when untreated, increases the risk of developing stomach cancer. India is the prototypical developing country as far as H. pylori infection is concerned and more than 20 million Indians are estimated to suffer from peptic ulcer disease. While H. pylori infection is the primary identified cause of gastric cancer, other major risk factors include chronic gastritis, high-salt diets and chemical carcinogens. Classified as a class I carcinogen by the World Health Organization, H. pylori infection is traditionally treated with costly triple or quadruple antibiotic therapies that can have significant side effects and treatment failure rates of 10-30%.

The research, “Suppression of Helicobacter pylori Infection by Daily Cranberry Intake: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial” was conducted by key scientists at the Department of Cancer Epidemiology, Peking University Cancer Hospital and Institute in Beijing, China, a leading cancer research center in the world. The study included 522 H. pylori-positive adults between the ages of 18-60 that have never previously received antibiotic therapy for H. pylori infection. Participants assigned to specific groups consumed different amounts of cranberry juice, juice-based powder or their placebos daily for eight weeks with testing performed at 2 and 8 weeks to determine H. pylori suppression rates. Investigational products were standardized to contain different levels of PACs to evaluate their effects on H. pylori suppression.

“The study findings reveal that cranberry juice may be a useful aid in H. pylori management in adults and has potential to be a key area for future research,” says lead researcher Professor Kai-Feng Pan MD, PhD, Key Laboratory of Carcinogenesis and Translational Research (Ministry of Education/Beijing), Department of Cancer Epidemiology, of Peking University Cancer Hospital & Institute. “While not alternatives to antibiotics, effective complementary strategies, like cranberry, that can contribute to managing H. pylori infections without negative side effects are highly desirable.”

Previous in vitro studies in Israel demonstrated that a cranberry extract containing PACs inhibited adhesion of H. pylori strains to human gastric mucus and stomach cells. Results from in vitro studies provide indicators that are used as background to formulate hypotheses for other human studies.

Cranberry juice (240 ml) containing 44 mg PAC reduced H. pylori when taken twice daily for eight weeks compared to other juice treatments or placebo, showing a statistically significant positive trend over time, but was not effective if taken only once a day or if juice with the lower PAC content of 23 mg was consumed. Participants that tested negative at eight weeks were retested 45 days later after ending treatment and 75% in the juice group remained H. pylori – negative. Some subjects in the placebo group also remained negative at this time point, possibly due to ingestion of unaccounted dietary components with H. pylori inhibitory activity. Statistical analyses were not performed on these data due to limited sample sizes. Additional research is needed to further explore any bacterial eradication effects of cranberry on H. pylori. Participants who remained H. pylori – positive following the trial were provided standard triple therapy antibiotic treatments.

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