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Cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon ) has been used as both a food and a medicine for centuries. It was used by Native Americans to treat bladder and kidney diseases, for many ailments, including appetite loss, digestive problems, blood disorders, and scurvy (vitamin C deficiency).
Cranberry is best known as a preventive treatment for urinary tract infections (UTIs), commonly caused by bacteria known as Escherichia coli (E. coli). Originally, scientists thought cranberry worked by making urine acidic enough to kill the bacteria. Now, studies show that cranberry actually prevents bacteria from attaching to the walls of the urinary tract. Valid scientific studies support the use of cranberry (taken as a supplement or as juice) for preventing -- though not treating -- UTIs.