Cranberries and Flax

December 13, 2008 Written by JP    [Font too small?]

Today I want split up my column. One part will deal with a topic that most people associate with women’s health. The second part will focus on a decidedly male issue. But ultimately, I hope you’ll read both segments of today’s blog. We all need to help inform each other, so help me spread the word.



A recent study tried to determine if a cranberry extract could prevent Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) as effectively as a prescription antibiotic. The study involved 137 older women. Half of them received the cranberry extract and half received the antibiotic.

The results indicated that the cranberry extract prevented the recurrence of UTIs for an average of 84.5 days. The antibiotic fared slightly better at 91 days of prevention. An important distinction is that the group using the cranberry extract suffered significantly fewer side-effects.

The authors also point out that the cranberry extract would be much cheaper for many of their patients. Another advantage of the cranberry is that it “does not carry the risk of antimicrobial resistance”. This last part refers to a medical problem wherein antibiotics become less effective because bacteria grow less sensitive to them.

If you decide to try cranberry juice, I suggest looking for an unsweetened variety. Unsweetened cranberry juice can be bitter, but there’s a simple way to fix that. Simply dilute the pure juice with some water and sweeten it with a small amount of stevia. There are also many encapsulated cranberry extracts that you can find at health food stores or on the internet.

Note: The study used 500 mg of an extract called Cran-Max. The duration of the trial was six months.

Flaxseeds to the Rescue!

Prostate cancer is a major concern for all men. It’s estimated that one out of every six men will be diagnosed with this form of cancer. So it’s essential to try to find ways to reduce the risk and/or combat it if it’s already present.

One way to nutritionally address prostate cancer is by consuming flaxseeds. Flaxseeds contain substances called lignans which have beneficial effects on the prostate. It’s important to note that most flax seed oil does not contain lignans. The following information specifically refers to ground flaxseeds, not flaxseed oil.

A recent study was done on men who were scheduled to have their cancerous prostates removed. The group was divided into four parts. One part continued to eat their typical diet. The second part of the group was asked to follow a low-fat menu plan. The third part began adding 30 grams a day of ground flaxseeds to their food. And the final part of the group adopted a low-fat diet with added flaxseeds.

When the men’s prostates were analyzed, the results were crystal clear. Both groups that consumed flaxseeds showed a lower rate of proliferation. That means that the growth of cancer significantly slowed down.

Flaxseeds are readily available at most health food stores. I personally suggest getting the whole seeds and grinding them yourself with an electric coffee or spice grinder. This will yield a fresher product and it’s cheaper too. You can also add whole flaxseeds to other healthful ingredients and blend them up into a smoothie or protein shake. The important thing is that the flaxseeds get ground up, one way or another. If you eat the flaxseeds whole, they’ll go right through you without providing the benefit to your prostate.

Be well!


Referenced Material

Link – Cranberry Extract vs. UTIs

Link – Cran-Max Dosage and Duration

Link – Flaxseeds vs. Prostate Cancer

Tags: , , , ,
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Nutrition, Nutritional Supplements

4 Comments & Updates to “Cranberries and Flax”

  1. G Paul F. Says:

    I think for the article’s recommended protocol to be used without further research the dose of cranberry extract used in the trial should be shown. Perhaps the equivalent number of fluid ounces of cranberry juice should also be suggested. Also the duration of recommended treatment? The article would be comprehensive!

  2. JP Says:

    Good suggestions, G Paul.

    I’ll add a note and a link that describes the dosage and duration of cranberry extract used in the study.

    Thank you for the valuable suggestions.

    Be well!


  3. JP Says:

    Update: Cranberries may reduce the build up of harmful oral bacteria …

    Contemp Clin Dent. 2015 Jan-Mar;6(1):35-9.

    Comparative assessment of Cranberry and Chlorhexidine mouthwash on streptococcal colonization among dental students: A randomized parallel clinical trial.

    BACKGROUND: Chlorhexidine gluconate mouthwash has earned an eponym of the gold standard against oral infections, but with certain limitations. There is no effective alternative to Chlorhexidine. Cranberry is known to inhibit bacterial adhesion in various systemic infections and acts as a strong antioxidant. However, it is less explored for its dental use. Hence, there is a need to evaluate its effect against oral infections.

    AIM: The aim was to compare the efficacy of 0.2% Chlorhexidine mouthwash with 0.6% Cranberry mouthwash on Streptococcus mutans.

    MATERIALS AND METHODS: This was a double-blind, randomized parallel group clinical trial. Total sample of 50 subjects, aged 18-20 years, were randomly divided into two groups, Group A (25) and Group B (25) were given 10 mL of Chlorhexidine mouthwash and Cranberry mouthwash twice daily, respectively, for 14 days each. The plaque samples, which were taken from the subjects on 1(st) day and 14(th) day, were inoculated on blood agar plates and incubated at 37°C for 24-48 h. Number of streptococcal colony forming units were calculated using digital colony counter. The data were subjected to paired t-test and unpaired t-test at a 5% significance level.

    RESULTS: (1) Chlorhexidine mouthwash showed 69% reduction whereas Cranberry mouthwash showed 68% reduction in S. mutans count. (2) No significant difference was seen between Chlorhexidine and Cranberry mouthwash on streptococci.

    CONCLUSION: Cranberry mouthwash is equally effective as Chlorhexidine mouthwash with beneficial local and systemic effect. Hence, it can be used effectively as an alternative to Chlorhexidine mouthwash.

    Be well!


  4. JP Says:

    pdate: Flax oil may protect the brain from stroke damage and possibly promote recovery …

    Nutrition Journal 2015, 14:20

    Oral consumption of α-linolenic acid increases serum BDNF levels in healthy adult humans

    Background aims Dietary omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids have remarkable impacts on the levels of DHA in the brain and retina. Low levels of DHA in plasma and blood hamper visual and neural development in children and cause dementia and cognitive decline in adults. The level of brain-derived neurotrophic factors (BDNF) changes with dietary omega-3 fatty acid intake. BDNF is known for its effects on promoting neurogenesis and neuronal survival. Methods In this study, we examined the effect of the oral consumption of α-Linolenic acid (ALA) on blood levels of BDNF and Malondialdehyde (MDA) in healthy adult humans. 30 healthy volunteers, 15 men and 15 women, were selected randomly. Each individual served as his or her own control. Before consuming the Flaxseed oil capsules, 5cc blood from each individual was sampled in order to measure the plasma levels of BDNF and MDA as baseline controls. During the experiment, each individual was given 3 oral capsules of flaxseed oil, containing 500mg of alpha linolenic acid, daily for one week. Then, plasma levels of BDNF and MDA were tested. Results The plasma levels of BDNF and MDA significantly (P < 0.05) increased in individuals who received the oral capsules of ALA. Plasma levels of BDNF increased more in the women in comparison with the men. Conclusion ALA treatment could be a feasible approach to reduce size of infarcts in stroke patients. Thus, ALA could be used in adjunction with routine stroke therapies to minimize brain lesions caused by stroke.

    Be well!


Leave a Comment