Cranberry Juice For Uti

Findings from other studies have also suggested that cranberry products, including cranberry juice, may help prevent UTIs from coming back in a few different populations, including ( 5 , 6 , 7 , 8 , 9 ):

Can Cranberry Stop Your UTIs?

Cranberries and juice

Here’s a statistic for you: About 60% of women will experience a urinary tract infection (UTI) at some point in their life.

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One of the most widely held beliefs about UTIs is that drinking cranberry juice (or taking cranberry supplements) can prevent and get rid of them.

“There is an active ingredient in cranberries that can prevent adherence of bacteria to the bladder wall, particularly E. coli,” explains urologist Courtenay Moore, MD. “But most of the studies suggest that juice and supplements don’t have enough of this active ingredient (A-type proanthocyanidins) to prevent bacteria from sticking to the urinary tract.”

The science is mixed

Overall, clinical studies on the efficacy of cranberry juices and extracts for preventing UTIs are conflicting.

One 2013 analysis of 13 different trials concluded that cranberry juice and tablets did reduce the occurrence of UTIs compared to placebo in women with recurrent UTIs. But another review found that they didn’t.

In additions to questions about cranberry’s effectiveness in preventing and treating UTIs, the amount of active ingredient that each product contains is not necessarily consistent. Therefore, products may not have enough of the active ingredient to be effective in preventing bacteria from sticking to the bladder wall.

The American Urological Association’s guidelines on recurrent UTIs in women states that clinicians may offer cranberry prophylaxis (for prevention), as there is little risk associated with these supplements, Dr. Moore notes.

The bottom line? “Cranberry won’t hurt, but it may help. It could be worth trying if you struggle with frequent UTIs, as the risk in doing so is very low,” Dr. Moore says.

How you actually can help prevent UTIs

Dr. Moore says she’s heard all of the myths about how to prevent or treat UTIs — drinking lots of water, urinating after sex, avoiding tight-fitting pants and staying away from hot tubs, bubble baths and tampons. None of these beliefs is supported by scientific data, she says.

On the other hand, here are three things that Dr. Moore says women should do to help prevent UTIs:

  1. Take precautions to prevent UTIs after sex. “Frequency of sexual activity is strongly correlated with UTIs,” she says, and having multiple partners and a history of sexually transmitted diseases put you at the greatest risk. If you’re prone to recurrent UTIs, Dr. Moore advises against using spermicides or barrier contraceptives (like a diaphragm) and will often recommend a single dose of an oral antibiotic be taken before or after sex.
  2. Develop good bowel habits. UTIs are caused when bacteria from the rectum strays into the vagina, she says. That most commonly happens when you have constipation or diarrhea, so do what you can to stay regular.
  3. Balance “good” bacteria with bad. For post-menopausal women with recurrent UTIs, Dr. Moore often uses a combination of topical (vaginal) estrogen and probiotics. Menopause alters vaginal pH, which causes a change in bacterial colonization. Topical estrogen normalizes vaginal pH so that the vagina is hospitable to good bacteria again. The “good bacteria,” or lactobacillus, from taking probiotics can then colonize the vagina. “You want more healthy bacteria so less bad bacteria can adhere to the vagina,” she says. Rushing to the grocery store for yogurt isn’t enough, though. “Not all yogurt brands have probiotics in them, and you’d have to eat about seven a day to get what you need,” she says.
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Even though UTIs happen frequently, you can take steps to lower your risk.

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Does Cranberry Juice Help Treat UTIs? Myth vs. Science

Cranberry Juice For Uti

If you get frequent urinary tract infections (UTIs), you’ve probably been told to drink cranberry juice and that it’s effective at preventing and treating these uncomfortable infections.

But is cranberry juice truly helpful for people with UTIs? And does adding cranberry juice to your diet help reduce the risk of a UTI?

This article explains everything you need to know about cranberry juice and UTIs to help you separate the myths from the science.

raw cranberries in a collander

UTIs are a common bacterial infection, especially among women.

In fact, 50% of women, compared with 12% of men, will develop a UTI in their lifetime. What’s more, up to 30% of young women have recurrent UTIs, which can significantly affect their quality of life ( 1 , 2 ).

In addition to medications like antibiotics, many people use natural remedies for UTI prevention and treatment.

Cranberry juice and cranberry juice supplements are perhaps the most popular natural treatments for UTIs.

Cranberries contain compounds such as phenolic acids and flavonoids, which may help treat and prevent UTIs.

These compounds may help ( 2 ):

  • interfere with the ability of bacteria to stick to the lining of the urinary tract
  • reduce inflammation
  • modulate gut bacteria
  • decrease the number of bacteria held in “reservoirs” in the bladder and gastrointestinal tracts that can lead to UTIs

Nevertheless, you may wonder whether cranberry juice is effective at preventing and treating UTIs.

May help prevent UTIs in some people

Some research suggests that cranberry juice and cranberry supplements may reduce the risk of UTIs in certain populations.

One review of 7 high quality studies that included 1,498 healthy women found that taking cranberry juice and cranberry supplements reduced the risk of UTI recurrence by 26% ( 3 ).

Another review concluded that cranberry products seem to prevent UTIs in women, but that they aren’t helpful for this purpose among people who are at an increased risk of contracting UTIs ( 4 ).

Findings from other studies have also suggested that cranberry products, including cranberry juice, may help prevent UTIs from coming back in a few different populations, including ( 5 , 6 , 7 , 8 , 9 ):

  • women with a history of UTIs
  • older adults in nursing homes
  • otherwise healthy children

Some findings also suggest cranberry juice capsules may help reduce UTIs in women who’ve undergone gynecological surgeries during which a catheter was placed in their urethra to empty their bladder ( 10 ).

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It’s important to note that cranberry extract, which is different from cranberry juice, has more evidence supporting its ability to help prevent UTIs from recurring in certain populations.

This is because cranberry supplements are a more concentrated source of the active compounds thought to be helpful in UTI treatment.

One recent study among 145 healthy women with a history of or recurrent UTIs examined the effects of taking cranberry proanthocyanidins daily. Those who took the high dosage received 18.5 mg of cranberry proanthocyanidin extract twice a day for 24 weeks ( 11 ).

Proanthocyanidins are a type of polyphenol compound that is naturally concentrated in cranberries.

The study found that the women who experienced fewer than 5 UTIs per year had a 43% decrease in UTIs when they took the high dosage, compared with those who took a control dose of 1 mg twice daily ( 11 ).

However, the study found that taking this high dose did not result in a significant reduction in UTIs for the overall group of adult women who had recurring urinary tract infections. The effect was only significant among those who had UTIs less often ( 11 ).

While some studies suggest that cranberry products like juice and extract may help reduce UTI recurrence in some people, researchers still aren’t exactly sure which components of cranberries are responsible for their possible protective effects against UTIs ( 2 ).

What’s more, it’s thought that genetics, immune health, metabolism, and differences in gut bacteria may influence the effectiveness of cranberry products against UTIs. In other words, they may be more effective in some people than others ( 2 ).

Plus, not all studies have found cranberry treatment helpful for UTI prevention. Researchers acknowledge that larger, high quality studies are needed to better understand how cranberry products affect urinary tract health.

Probably not a great treatment for active UTIs

While cranberry products help protect against UTI recurrence in some people, evidence supporting the use of cranberry juice and cranberry juice products for improving symptoms in people who have active UTIs is weak.

One review that included three high quality studies concluded that, overall, there wasn’t enough evidence to show that cranberry extract helps treat active UTIs ( 12 ).

Another study that included 46 women found that taking cranberry capsules both alone and when combined with antibiotics may help reduce the need for antibiotic use and improve certain UTI-related symptoms in women with active UTIs ( 13 ).

It’s important to note that this was a feasibility study with 46 participants, designed to assess whether a larger scale study would be feasible. Thus, its results may not be as robust as the results of a larger, high quality study.

Some women in the study noted that taking the cranberry supplements helped reduce antibiotic use and helped “clear the infection” more quickly than antibiotics alone, while others reported no improvement when they took the cranberry supplements.

It’s important to note that most available research focuses on using cranberry products to prevent UTIs, not treat active infections.

Currently, there’s not enough evidence to suggest that cranberry products are effective at reducing UTI symptoms or speeding recovery from active UTIs.

More high quality research is needed to determine whether cranberry products like cranberry juice and cranberry capsules may help treat active UTIs.

Summary

Evidence suggests that cranberry products like cranberry juice and cranberry extracts may help prevent UTIs from coming back in some people. However, there’s not enough evidence to suggest they’re helpful for active UTIs.

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Alex Koliada, PhD

Alex Koliada, PhD

Alex Koliada, PhD, is a well-known doctor. He is famous for his studies of ageing, genetics and other medical conditions. He works at the Institute of Food Biotechnology and Genomics NAS of Ukraine. His scientific researches are printed by the most reputable international magazines. Some of his works are: Differences in the gut Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes ratio across age groups in healthy Ukrainian population [BiomedCentral.com]; Mating status affects Drosophila lifespan, metabolism and antioxidant system [Science Direct]; Anise Hyssop Agastache foeniculum Increases Lifespan, Stress Resistance, and Metabolism by Affecting Free Radical Processes in Drosophila [Frontiersin].
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