Cranberries' Potential as Potent Alternative to Antibiotics

Internal Medicine World ReportOctober 2006
Volume 0
Issue 0

From the American Chemical SocietyMechanism of Neutralizing E coli Infection Outlined

E coli

SAN FRANCISCO—Compounds found in cranberries and cranberry juice appear to have the ability to render Escherichia coli bacteria incapable of initiating an infection, suggesting that cranberries may be the basis of an alternative to antibiotic therapy—particularly for combating bacteria that have become resistant to antibiotics.

E coli

Data presented at the American Chemical Society annual meeting show that a group of tannins called proanthocyanidins, which are found primarily in cranberries, affect in 3 different ways, all of which prevent the bacteria from adhering to cells in the body:

• Changing the shape of the bacteria from rods to spheres

• Altering their cell membranes

• Making it difficult for bacteria to come into contact with cells or from latching onto cells if they get close enough.

For most of these effects, the impact on bacteria became greater with greater concentrations of either cranberry juice or the tannins in cranberries. Thus, whole cranberry products and juice that has not been diluted much may offer the greatest health benefits.

Cranberry suplements may be an alternative to drinking the juice, which can taste quite bitter without added sweeteners.

E coli

E coli

Other preliminary results presented at the meeting suggest that bacteria that have been exposed to cranberry juice may lose the ability to secrete indole, a molecule involved in a form of bacterial communication called quorum sensing. use quorum sensing to determine when there are enough bacteria at a certain location to initiate a successful infection.

“We are beginning to get a picture of cranberry juice, and, in particular, the tannins found in cranberries, as potentially potent antibacterial agents,” said lead investigator Terri Camesano, PhD, of Worchester Polytechnic Institute, Worchester, Mass.

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