Vaccinium macrocarpon Aiton

Last updated: 17 Aug 2016

Scientific Name

Vaccinium macrocarpon Aiton  


Oxycoca macrocarpa (Aiton) Raf., Oxycoccus macrocarpus (Aiton) Pers., Schollera macrocarpa (Aiton) Steud., Schollera macrocarpos (Aiton) Britton [1]

Vernacular Name

English Cranberry, large cranberry, American cranberry [2]
France Canneberge, airelle à gros fruits, gros atocas (Îles de la Madeleine: grains, pommes de prée) [2].

Geographical Distributions

No documentation.

Botanical Description

Vaccinium macrocarpon  is a member of the Ericaceae family. [1] It is an evergreen, creeping, and mat-forming plant [2].


No documentation.

Chemical Constituent

Acetone extract of V. macrocarpon fresh fruits has been reported to contain triterpenoids derivatives (e.g. ursolic acid, cis-3-O-phydroxycinnamoylursolic acid, and trans- 3-O-p-hydroxycinnamoylursolic acid), flavonoids (e.g. quercetin, 3,5,7,3′,4′-pentahydroxyflavonol-3-O-β-D-glucopyranoside, 3,5,7,3′,4′- pentahydroxyflavonol-3-O-β-D-galactopyranoside (hyperin), and 3,5,7,3′,4′- pentahydroxyflavonol-3-O-α-L-arabinofuranoside), sterols (e.g. β-sitosterol and β-sitosterol-3-O-β-D-glucoside), benzoic acid β-D-glucopyranoside, benzoic acid α-L-arabinopyranosyl (1→6)-β-D-glucopyranoside, benzoic acid, 1-[3-(4-hydroxyphenyl)-2-propenoate]-β-D-glucopyranoside, 3-methoxy-4- hydroxybenzoic acid, p-hydroxybenzoic acid, 2(R)-hydroxybutanedioic acid 1-methyl ester, 2(R)-hydroxybutanedioic acid, quinic acid, maleic acid monoethyl ester, and 5-ethyl-6-[3-ethyl-5-((Z)-pent-1-enyl)-5,6-dihydro-4H-pyran-2-ylperoxy]-3-[(Z)-pent-1-enyl]-3, 4-dihydro-2H-pyran. [3]

Plant Part Used

No documentation.

Traditional Use

V. macrocarpon or cranberryis famously known used for urinary tract problems especially urinary tract infection. It also used for kidney disorders, to promote urination, and to treat bladder infection and inflammation in women. [2]

Preclinical Data


Urinary tract anti-infection activity

V. macrocarpon has been used to prevent kidney stones, as well as to remove unwanted toxins from the body [4]. As early as the 1840's, German researchers were examining the connection between using the V. macrocarpon and the incidence of urinary tract infection (UTI). It has been thought that V. macrocarpon worked for UTI by acidifying the urine, preventing the bacteria from growing. In 1984, it has been reported that V. macrocarpon does not acidify the urine sufficiently to produce an antibacterial effect in the bladder [5]. Instead, V. macrocarpon prevented E. coli from adhering to the cells lining the bladder wall, thus preventing infection [6][7]. Research has reported that this property may be due to a glycoprotein found in the V. macrocarpon fruit. Further research reported that V. macrocarpon was a potent inhibitor of the most virulent strains of E. coli from attaching to the bladder wall [8][9]. It has been reported that other members of the Vaccinium genus have similar properties, including bilberry and blueberry. The antiadhesive qualities of V. macrocarpon may prevent E. coli from colonizing in the gut as well [9]. V. macrocarpon was also reported to inhibit the adhesion of H. pylori to human gastric mucus and to human erythrocytes [10]. An in vitro study reported some antibacterial activity of V. macrocarpon juice [11].

Antioxidant activity

Other laboratory studies support the antioxidant capabilities of the flavonoid constituents in V. macrocarpon [12][13][14]. V. macrocarpon juice may increase plasma antioxidant levels reducing the risk of heart disease [15]

Cardiovascular diseases

A number of studies support the use of polyphenols, including those found in V. macrocarpon, in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) by increasing the resistance of LDL to oxidation, inhibiting platelet aggregation, reducing blood pressure, and via other antithrombotic and anti-inflammatory mechanisms. [16]

Anti-matrix metalloproteinases activity

Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) play a major role in periodontal tissue destruction. An in vitro study found that V. macrocarpon proanthocyanidins inhibited the production of MMPs in a concentration-dependent manner. [17]

Anticancer activity

V. macrocarpon extracts have also been reported in laboratory studies to be effective against various cancer cell lines, including paraplatin-resistant ovarian cancer, breast, colon, prostate, and lung cancer cell lines. [18][19]


No documentation.

Clinical Data

Clinical findings

Urinary tract anti-infection activity

A randomized controlled study in older women found that the activity of V. macrocarpon against UTI was as effective as trimethoprim [20]. A small, placebo controlled study in 188 pregnant women found there is a protective effect of V. macrocarpon ingestion against asymptomatic bacteriuria and symptomatic urinary tract infections in pregnancy [21]. The findings of the Cochrane Collaboration support the potential use of V. macrocarpon products in the prophylaxis of recurrent UTIs in young and middle-aged women [22]. Also, a small, randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled trial in 47 individuals with spinal cord injury found that V. macrocarpon tablets reduced the incidence of UTI in those with neurogenic bladder [23].

Proanthocyanidins found in V. macrocarpon have been reported in laboratory studies to inhibit P-fimbriae synthesis and induce a bacterial deformation, on both antibiotic-susceptible and antibiotic-resistant uropathogenic Escherichia coliV. macrocarpon may prevent bacteria from adhering to the uroepithelium of the bladder, thereby blocking the ability of E. coli to infect the urinary mucosa. [24]

Antioxidant activity

A recent human study reported that V. macrocarpon juice is an effective antioxidant. The authors suggested that the antioxidant activity may be in part due to the relatively high vitamin C content. [25] 

A small study in Type 2 diabetics taking oral glucose-lowering agents found V. macrocarpon supplements to be effective in reducing atherosclerotic cholesterol profiles, including LDL cholesterol (although oxidized LDL was not affected) and total cholesterol levels, as well as total HDL/ cholesterol ratio [26]. The study also reported a neutral effect on glycaemic control. Another clinical study found that V. macrocarpon did decrease oxidized LDL and intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1), vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1) and E-selectin concentrations in men [27].

A small clinical study in children found that use of V. macrocarpon juice and Lactobacillus sp. was effective in reducing the number of H. pyloribacteria in the gut [28]. Another clinical study found that V. macrocarpon in conjunction with PPIs and antibiotics helped eradicate H. pylori from the gut more effectively than the drugs alone [29].


V. macrocarpon juice may contain varying amounts of oxalate, a common component of kidney stones. Use with caution in individuals prone to nephrolithiasis. Do not use in individuals currently with nephrolithiasis. [30]

Side effects

Large doses of V. macrocarpon juice may cause mild diarrhoea and gastric upset. [31]

Pregnancy/Breast Feeding

Studies report V. macrocarpon is safe to use during pregnancy and breastfeeding, but consult a physician first. [32]

Age limitation

No documentation.

Adverse reaction

No documentation.

Interaction & Depletion

No documentation.

Interaction with drug


V. macrocarpon has been reported in laboratory studies to affect drugs metabolized by CYP3A, including warfarin, nifedipine (Procardia) and midazolam (Versed) [33][34]. However, one small clinical study found no effect on coagulation vs. placebo [35].

Interaction with other Herbs

No documentation.


No documentation.


No documentation.

Poisonous Management

No documentation.

Line drawing

No documentation.


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  10. Burger O, Ofek I, Tabak M, Weiss EI, Sharon N, Neeman I. A high molecular mass constituent of cranberry juice inhibits Helicobacter pylori adhesion to human gastric mucus. FEMS Immunol Med Microbiol. 2000;29(4):295-301.
  11. Magariños HL, Sahr C, Selaive SD, Costa ME, Figuerola FE, Pizarro OA. In vitro inhibitory effect of Cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpom Ait.) juice on pathogenic microorganisms. Prikl Biokhim Mikrobiol. May-Jun 2008;44(3):333-336.
  12. Wang SY, Jiao H. Scavenging capacity of berry crops on superoxide radicals, hydrogen peroxide, hydroxyl radicals, and singlet oxygen. J Agric Food Chem. 2000;48(11):5677-5684.
  13. Yan X, Murphy BT, Hammond GB, Vinson JA, Neto CC. Antioxidant activities and antitumor screening of extracts from cranberry fruit (Vaccinium macrocarpon). J Agric Food Chem. 2002;50(21):5844-5849.
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  17. La VD, Howell AB, Grenier D. Cranberry proanthocyanidins inhibit MMP production and activity. J Dent Res. 2009;88(7):627-632.
  18. Singh AP, Singh RK, Kim KK, Satyan KS, Nussbaum R, Torres M, Brard L, Vorsa N. Cranberry proanthocyanidins are cytotoxic to human cancer cells and sensitize platinum-resistant ovarian cancer cells to paraplatin. Phytother Res. 2009;23(8):1066-1074.
  19. Neto CC, Amoroso JW, Liberty AM. Anticancer activities of Cranberry phytochemicals: an update. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2008;52 (Suppl 1):S18-27.
  20. McMurdo ME, Argo I, Phillips G, Daly F, Davey P. Cranberry or trimethoprim for the prevention of recurrent urinary tract infections? A randomized controlled trial in older womenJ Antimicrob Chemother. 2009;63(2):389-395.
  21. Wing DA, Rumney PJ, Preslicka CW, Chung JH. Daily cranberry juice for the prevention of asymptomatic bacteriuria in pregnancy: A randomized, controlled pilot study. J Urol. 2008;180(4):1367-1372.
  22. Jepson RG, Williams G, Craig JC. Cranberries for preventing urinary tract infections. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2008 23;(1):CD001321.
  23. Hess MJ, Hess PE, Sullivan MR, Nee M, Yalla SV. Evaluation of cranberry tablets for the prevention of urinary tract infections in spinal cord injured patients with neurogenic bladder. Spinal Cord.  2008;46(9):622-626.
  24. Pérez-López FR, Haya J, Chedraui P. Vaccinium macrocarpon: an interesting option for women with recurrent urinary tract infections and other health benefits. J Obstet Gynaecol Res. 2009;35(4):630-639.
  25. Pedersen CB, Kyle J, Jenkinson AM, Gardner PT, McPhail DB, Duthie GG. Effects of blueberry and cranberry juice consumption on the plasma antioxidant capacity of healthy female volunteers. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2000;54(5):405-408.
  26. Lee IT, Chan YC, Lin CW, Lee WJ, Sheu WH. Effect of cranberry extracts on lipid profiles in subjects with Type 2 diabetes. Diabet Med. 2008;25(12):1473-1477.
  27. Ruel G, Pomerleau S, Couture P, Lemieux S, Lamarche B, Couillard C. Low-calorie cranberry juice supplementation reduces plasma oxidized LDL and cell adhesion molecule concentrations in men. Br J Nutr. 2008;99(2):352-359.
  28. Gotteland M, Andrews M, Toledo M, et al. Modulation of Helicobacter pylori colonization with cranberry juice and Lactobacillus johnsonii La1 in children. Nutrition. 2008;24(5):421-426.
  29. Shmuely H, Yahav J, Samra Z, et al. Effect of cranberry juice on eradication of Helicobacter pylori in patients treated with antibiotics and a proton pump inhibitor. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2007;51(6):746-751.
  30. Terris MK, Issa MM, Tacker JR. Dietary supplementation with cranberry concentrate tablets may increase the risk of nephrolithiasis. Urology. 2001;57(1):26-29.
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  33. Ngo N, Yan Z, Graf TN, et al. Identification of a cranberry juice product that inhibits enteric CYP3A-mediated first-pass metabolism in humans. Drug Metab Dispos. 2009;37(3):514-522.
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