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Cranberry Juice: Side Effects and Allergic Reactions

Cranberry Side Effects

Even the healthiest foods and drinks can cause side effects and adverse reactions in people who are allergic to them, or when consumed in excess. Below, you find a few examples of side effects that some people have experienced of drinking cranberry juice or eating cranberries. Note that if you're taking cranberry supplements, any side effects or allergic reactions you may be experiencing may also be caused by some other ingredient found in the supplement.

Cranberries and Allergy to Salicylic Acid Cranberries, like many other tart fruits and berries, are naturally rich in salicylic acid, a chemical that is also found in aspirin. Therefore people who are allergic or sensitive to aspirin may experience adverse reactions after drinking cranberry juice or eating cranberries. Possible symptoms of a salicylate allergy include, but are not limited, to:

  • Asthma-like symptoms such as wheezing and shortness of breath
  • A runny or stuffy nose
  • Headaches
  • Itching or skin rashes
  • Stomach pain
  • Swelling of the hands, feet, or face

In severe cases, a salicylate allergy can even lead to anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening reaction that may threaten breathing, consciousness, and blood circulation.

Now, if you are not allergic to cranberries or salicylic acid, cranberries might in fact provide you with some anti-allergy benefits due to their high concentration of quercetin, a compound with anti-histamine and anti-allergy properties. A study conducted at the University of Kuopio, Finland, found that among the twenty-two tested berries, only bog whortleberries and wild lingonberries provided more quercetin than wild cranberries.

Diarrhea and Gastrointestinal Upset. Cranberries have mild laxative effects, which may be good news for those who are looking for food remedies for constipation. However, if you don't suffer from particularly hard stools, consuming too much cranberry juice or whole cranberries can send you running to the toilet.

Kidney Problems. People who are prone to developing kidney stones are usually advised not to use concentrated cranberry products as concentrated cranberry supplements can cause a significant increase the oxalate concentration of urine. This in turn may promote the development of new kidney stones.

Interference with Warfarin. There is some evidence that cranberry juice may interfere with the anti-coagulant drug warfarin; however, that evidence is not conclusive. If you are taking warfarin, or any other anti-coagulant medication, it is best to talk to your doctor before using cranberry products therapeutically.

Effects of Cranberry Juice in Pregnant Women. At present, little is known about the effects of cranberries on pregnant women and their unborn babies.

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