Richard G. Petty, MD

Cranberries and the Inflammation Associated With Severe Gum Disease

There is an interesting study from a team of researchers from Quebec, Canada. The findings, published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, reveal that natural compounds in cranberries may help ward off periodontitis, or severe gum disease, by serving as a powerful anti-inflammatory agent. This anti-inflammatory effect may be attributed to unique compounds in the fruit that prevent the bacterium P. gingivalis from adhering to the teeth below the gum line. Though it is early days, this new research offers promise for the estimated 67 million Americans affected by periodontitis, the primary cause of tooth loss in adults.

The reason for the study was that cranberries have what are known as "anti-adhesion" activity. This helps guard the body from certain harmful bacteria that cause urinary tract infections (UTIs), gastric ulcers and gum disease. This anti-adhesion activity is primarily due to molecules called proanthocyanidins (PACs) found naturally in cranberries and other foods. Cranberry PACs contain a unique A-type structure that is responsible for this anti-adhesion mechanism of action, while most other foods contain only the more-common B-type PACs.

Researchers discovered that cranberry compounds can reduce the growth of P. gingivalis and subsequent plaque development — the initial step in the development of periodontitis. Periodontitis occurs when inflammation or infection of the gums is left untreated or treatment is delayed. Infection and inflammation spreads from the gums to the ligaments and bones that support the teeth and eventually leads to tooth loss.

In a paper in the Journal of Dental Research the same researchers had previously shown that cells treated with cranberry juice showed significantly less inflammation than cells that were not treated.

Not only can cranberry compounds decrease the growth of P. gingivalis, they may also prevent certain oral bacteria from directly destroying gum tissue itself — another major factor contributing to periodontitis. This may have more widespread implications as recent studies have also linked severe gum disease with an increased likelihood for heart disease and stroke.

The study was part funded by the Ocean Spray agricultural cooperative that sells cranberry juice.

Brushing, flossing and regular professional cleaning reduces the risk of developing periodontitis by helping to prevent the onset of gingivitis, or gum infection. Cranberries may provide an interesting ingredient in the development of new therapeutic approaches for treatment of periodontitis.

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About Richard G. Petty, MD
Dr. Richard G. Petty, MD is a world-renowned authority on the brain, and his revolutionary work on human energy systems has been acclaimed around the globe. He is also an accredited specialist in internal and metabolic medicine, endocrinology, psychiatry, acupuncture and homeopathy. He has been an innovator and leader of the human potential movement for over thirty years and is also an active researcher, teacher, writer, professional speaker and broadcaster. He is the author of five books, including the groundbreaking and best selling CD series Healing, Meaning and Purpose. He has taught in over 45 countries and 48 states in the last ten years, but spends as much time as possible on his horse farm in Georgia.

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