Cranberry Allergy: Symptoms And Solutions

  • Olajide Otuyemi BPharm, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Nigeria; MPH University of Ilorin, Nigeria; MSc. Drug discovery, development, and delivery, Liverpool John Moores University, UK

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Cranberries are popularly used in pantry products, gravies, and dressings. In recent years, they have been particularly marketed as an alternative treatment option with commendable potency in recurrent urinary tract infections due to their ability to prevent the attachment of pathogens to the uroepithelium (tissue lining the urinary tract). They are available in tablet and capsule forms and are used in the prevention of recurrent urinary tract infections among sexually active women and pregnant women. The cranberry plant (Latin name: Vaccinium macrocarpon) produces cranberry fruit. It is well known for its benefits as a food source and its medicinal benefits. A cup of cranberry is known to contain as much as 8983 antioxidants. This is higher relative to many other fruits and vegetables, including apples, spinach, and broccoli.1,2

Medicinal benefits of cranberry

The benefits of cranberries are numerous. This is also enhanced by its phytonutrient content which is a significant naturally occurring component of the fruit. The benefits of cranberry have been found to range from its use as a diuretic, to its use as an antibacterial in the urinary tract due to its acidic nature such as in painful urination associated with some pathological health conditions. 

Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) occur when bacterial cells outgrow their normal levels in the urinary tract. This may manifest as infections in the kidney and/or bladder. It is important to note that the antibacterial benefit of cranberry juice against UTI is mostly prophylactic and not solely relied upon where the infection has already taken place. Cranberries contain proanthocyanidins which can limit bacterial growth and are then eliminated through the urine. Cranberries can be of great benefit to pregnant women and middle-aged women to protect against recurrent infections of the urinary tract. 

Additionally, the salicylic acid and polyphenolic compounds present in cranberry have been shown to help inhibit the development of certain tumours including tumours in the breast, lung, prostate, and colon. The flavonoids in cranberry also help decrease the incidence of atherosclerosis due to their ability to reduce the oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and blood platelet stimulation. 

Other advantages of cranberry as a component of a healthy diet include protection against tooth decay by the acid production inhibition by proanthocyanidin which consequently prevents plaque growth. The calcium content provides an additional benefit of strengthening the bones and teeth. 

Cranberry is also popular in herbal medicines as a treatment for scurvy and an adjunct in weight loss management. Cranberries are preferred in herbal medicine for infection management because they can be used for as long as required without the challenge of drug resistance which has become a global burden in antibiotic use. Moreover, there is a very high chance of patient compliance being that cranberries can be adapted to the daily diet of patients.2,3

Cranberries and allergies

Cranberries contain a lot of salicylic acid in them. Similarly, Aspirin is made up of a huge amount of salicylic acid. This component is indicated in medical conditions where blood thinning is essential. Individuals who are prescribed Aspirin must consume a limited amount of cranberry to prevent the synergistic effect of both components causing excessive blood thinning and consequential health emergencies. Moreover, individuals who are allergic to aspirin are encouraged to avoid cranberries.2

Apart from this, there is no literature or known findings on sensitization reactions or allergies to cranberries, its components, or its products. This limited knowledge may pose a knowledge gap and a challenge in exploring the other beneficial possibilities of cranberries in human health. Further research must be carried out to investigate this and provide in-depth information on possible cranberry allergies. 

Food processing and bioactive contents

Fresh cranberry possesses an astringent taste, hence, it is rarely consumed unprocessed. The extracted juice is mostly preferred, this makes up about 60 % of its composition. It can also be taken as a sweetened or dried fruit, or as a sauce. During the extraction/ processing of cranberries, much of its phytochemical composition may be lost along with loss of skin or seeds, degradation from high temperatures, and oxidation by polyphenol oxidase and peroxidase. This results in a varied composition of essential compounds retained in the processed food. Their anthocyanins loss is significant, as much as 50 % is lost. 

Proanthocyanidins (PACs) and Flavonols are usually thermo-stable and can mostly withstand pasteurization processes, however, they can be affected by extremely high temperatures which they may be exposed to when the fruit is being processed into dry powders. Also, more juice may be lost when the fruit is processed along with other fruits due to juice mixing and this may reduce the phytochemical content of the final processed product. In contrast, ursolic acid content stays comparable in the dried, sweetened product of the fruit. Overall, cranberries in any processed form still contribute a marked proportion of PACs as well as flavonols in an average human diet.4

Cranberries and urinary health

Currently, chemotherapeutic management of urinary tract infections involves using antibiotics to prevent and cure ailments. However, patients are predisposed to antibiotic resistance and poor patient compliance. Patients are also exposed to multiple possible side effects and adverse drug reactions which leads to negative consequences in public health.

Cranberries are popular for their benefits as a prophylactic management and additive in the management of infections affecting the urinary tract. They have the additional benefit of bacteria being unlikely to develop resistance to them. The most widely known alternative treatment is cranberries and their mechanism of action is well known.

Although many mechanisms have been associated with cranberry urinary-health-protective action. Most prominent among them being their ability to inhibit the adhesion of bacteria cells to the urinary tract which forces them to be eliminated via urination. Bacterial inability to cling to hold in the urinary tract hinders their growth and therefore, unable to cause infection. Recent studies have shown the beneficial effects of cranberries as markedly more significant than other berries in urinary health particularly due to their significantly high concentration of the A-type proanthocyanidins unlike the B-type found in most other berries. 

It is recommended that cranberries should be ingested daily along with lifestyle modifications such as increased intake of fluids to improve urination and elimination of toxins and dislodged bacteria cells as well as a balanced diet and moderate exercise to prevent recurrent urinary tract infections, especially among vulnerable populations.4


Cranberries are well known for their multiple applications and have gained even more prominence in managing recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs). Cranberries contain a high phytonutrient content than most other fruits and vegetables and have shown diuretic effects, antioxidant effects, tumor inhibition, and protection against UTIs, they even find some use in weight loss management programs. They provide a patient-friendly option without the risk of antibiotic resistance or patient non-compliance.

The integrity of cranberry content may encounter some challenges during processing because they may be lost during the extraction, pasteurization processes, and other processing methods. However, despite these effects, cranberries remain a potent contributor to the human diet in whatever form they are ingested.

The high salicylic acid content of cranberries does not permit concomitant use with aspirin, especially with patients prescribed aspirin to avoid bleeding conditions. However, apart from this, there are few studies on allergies to cranberries. More research needs to be done on this to highlight sensitivities to cranberries and its components.


In conclusion, the multifaceted nature of cranberries which extends from their culinary applications to their medicinal benefits makes them a significant fruit in health promotion. A commendable potency is in their ability to prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs) and their many other phytonutrient compositions make them a desirable component of daily human diet. Other benefits of cranberries include diuretic properties, tumor inhibition, protection against scurvy, antioxidant component, and weight loss among others.

There are crucial considerations to be highlighted in the consumption of cranberries. The high content of salicylic acid content prompts caution, especially among patients concomitantly prescribed aspirin to prevent complications from the synergistic effect of both blood thinning effects. There is currently a knowledge gap on cranberry allergies, which calls for an increase in research into sensitivities and allergic reactions to cranberries and their components.

Cranberries are not just flavorful additions to meals but a potential ally in the pursuit of overall well-being. More research needs to be carried out into cranberry allergies and their diverse benefits as this will enhance a more holistic approach to understanding this beneficial fruit for human health and well-being.


  1. Matheu V, Baeza M L, Zubeldia J M, Barrios Y. Allergy to lingoberry: A case report. Clinical and Molecular Allergy 2004;2:2.
  2. Sujana K, Tejaswini K Sai, Lakshmi S Sri. Cranberry fruit: An update review. International Journal of Herbal Medicine 2016;4(3):5–8.
  3. Aziz U, Khan SK, Altaf U, Zainab A, Kanwal A, Naz F. Efficacy of Cranberry Juice in the Prevention of Recurrent Urinary Tract Infection. PJMHS [homepage on the Internet] 2022 [cited 2023 Dec 13];16(2):204–206. Available from:
  4. Blumberg JB, Camesano TA, Cassidy A, et al. Cranberries and Their Bioactive Constituents in Human Health. Advances in Nutrition [homepage on the Internet] 2013 [cited 2023 Dec 15];4(6):618–632. Available from:

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Olajide Otuyemi

BPharm, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Nigeria; MPH University of Ilorin, Nigeria; MSc. Drug discovery, development, and delivery, Liverpool John Moores University, UK

Olajide Otuyemi is an experienced pharmacist and public health specialist with years of experience and a proven track record in the pharmaceutical industry and global health. His knowledge and experience spans across research, pharmaceuticals, patient education, and public health initiatives. He is passionate about health education and empowering others to make informed decisions to support positive health outcomes. He hopes to continue making high-quality medical information accessible and available to all. presents all health information in line with our terms and conditions. It is essential to understand that the medical information available on our platform is not intended to substitute the relationship between a patient and their physician or doctor, as well as any medical guidance they offer. Always consult with a healthcare professional before making any decisions based on the information found on our website.
Klarity is a citizen-centric health data management platform that enables citizens to securely access, control and share their own health data. Klarity Health Library aims to provide clear and evidence-based health and wellness related informative articles. 
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