Cranberries Cripple Bacteria
Berry powder thwarted urinary tract infections
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 29, 2013 12:28 AM CST
Updated Nov 29, 2013 2:00 AM CST
Good for juice, pies, sauce - and catheters?   (AP Photo/Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association, Andy Manis)

(Newser) – People have know for at least a century that cranberries can help combat urinary tract infections, but scientists are only now beginning to understand how. Canadian researchers exposed bacteria that cause the infections to cranberry powder and discovered that cranberries damage bacteria's ability to grow the whip-like flagella appendages they use to move around, LiveScience finds. The bacteria almost completely lost the ability to swim and swarm—an ability that can be especially dangerous in urinary tract bacteria.

Even Proteus mirabilis—described as a "really aggressive swarmer" that can cause serious infections in catheterized patients—was crippled by the cranberry powder. The powder could be a very valuable treatment because it disables bacteria to be flushed out harmlessly by the body, whereas antibiotics kill most but not all bacteria, leading to hardy strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. One problem was the the concentration of cranberries most effective against bacteria was higher than what you would find even in a regular drinker of cranberry juice, so researchers are looking at embedding cranberry powder directly into catheters.