“Crane berries”, the familiar berry accompaniment to holiday meals, are also one of the most versatile antibacterial herbs.
Vaccinium macrocarpon (Cranberry) is a fruit native to North America, with almost 98% of the world supply cultivated in the northern U.S. and Canada. Sometimes referred to as “crane berries”, the pink blossoms of the cranberry shrub look a little like the heads of the cranes that frequent cranberry bogs. Both indigenous Americans and colonists valued cranberry for its medicinal and nutritional properties. Cranberries are a high value crop, ranking 40th in sales of all cash crops monitored by the USDA's National Agricultural Statistical Service.
Cranberries contain loads of vitamin C, vitamin A, polyphenols, anthocyanins and fiber. In disease-fighting antioxidants, cranberries outrank nearly every fruit and vegetable - including strawberries, spinach, broccoli, red grapes, apples, raspberries, and cherries. One cup of whole cranberries has 9,090 total Oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC).
Cranberry juice is the primary use for cranberries; it is usually either sweetened to make "cranberry juice cocktail" or blended with other fruit juices to reduce its natural severe tartness. At one teaspoon of sugar per ounce, cranberry juice cocktail is more highly sweetened than soda drinks. Concentrated cranberry juice (without added sugar) and extracts of cranberry have been used to detoxify the skin and are particularly useful for those who are acne-prone or suffer from psoriasis or oily skin. In addition, cranberries are thought to reduce skin inflammation and redness.
Although Omega-rich oils are well known for the beneficial effect they have on your health when taken internally as a dietary supplement, the topical application of these polyunsaturated fatty acids to the skin also offer great benefit - not only helping to moisturize the skin, but also helping to reduce inflammation while strengthening the skin. The drawback used to be that good sources of omega-3 and omega-6 oils came from fish oil which smells “fishy”, and for that reason fish oil was rarely used in skincare products. With cranberry seed oil, this has changed, as it provides these same fatty acids, without a fishy smell.
Cranberry, as well as many other fruits and vegetables, contains significant amounts of salicylic acid, which is an important component of aspirin. Salicylic acid is also commonly used in products for acneic skin because of its bactericidal and antiseptic qualities. The anti-bacterial properties found in cranberries makes them a useful ingredient in facial cleansers, scalp treatments, in pore cleansers and toners for acne-prone skin, and for use in body washes.
Fresh cranberries, which contain the highest levels of beneficial nutrients, are at their peak from October through December, just in time for holiday meals. While fresh cranberries are more visible around the holiday season, cranberry seed oil and cranberry extracts can certainly be utilized year round in skincare formulations for their anti-aging and acne-soothing benefits. With yearly U.S. production of the tart “crane berry” at about 70,000 tons, you’re ensured a more than adequate domestic supply of this antioxidant powerhouse.