11 January 2008
Yet More Positives For Cranberries
Cranberry juice, long regarded as a folk remedy for relieving urinary tract infections in women, is finally getting some respect. Prof. Itzhak Ofek, a researcher at Tel Aviv University, has discovered that the refreshing red beverage has additional medicinal qualities as well. It exhibits anti-viral properties against the flu, can prevent cavities, and lessens the reoccurrence of gastric ulcers. Unhappily for half the human race, however, new research in the journal Molecular Nutrition & Food Research suggests that the healing power of cranberries apply only to women.
The remarkable healing property in cranberries stems from a heavy molecule known as non-dialyzable material or NDM. This molecule, isolated by Prof. Ofek and his colleagues, seems to coat some bodily surfaces with Teflon-like efficiency, preventing infection-causing agents from taking root. "We understood that there was something in cranberry juice that doesn't let infections adhere to a woman's bladder," Prof. Ofek says. "We figured it was a specific inhibitor and proved this to be the case."
And it seems the effect isn't confined to the bladder. "We found that NDM inhibits adhesion of oral bacteria to tooth surfaces and as a consequence reduced the bacterial load that causes cavities in the mouth," says Prof. Ofek. "And after a clinical trial, we formulated a mouthwash based on cranberries which was patented by Tel Aviv University."
But Prof. Ofek wasn't content to stop at cavities. Working with Prof. Ervin Weiss and Prof. Zichria Rones at Hadassah Medical and Dental School, he found that NDM inhibits the flu virus from attaching to cells and prevented experimental flu infections in animal models. Most recently, Prof. Ofek collaborated with Dr. Haim Shmuely, a resident physician at the Beilinson Hospital and lecturer at Tel Aviv University, to find that cranberry also inhibits two-thirds of the "unhealthy" bacteria that clings to gastric cells, which lead to ulcers.
The one drawback to this research is that it only holds true for women, showing once again cranberry's affinity for the female. "The whole thing with cranberries seems to be female-oriented," admits Prof. Ofek.
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Source: Tel Aviv University