If you suffer from UTI quite frequently then it's very likely that you’ve heard about how cranberry juice is beneficial for treating or preventing UTI. You may even be currently using some kind of cranberry pills or capsules to help with your UTI. So, is cranberry juice effective against UTI? The research that has been done so far on this subject has given very conflicting results.
In some studies, cranberry was found to be really effective, while others proved that it didn’t. This study, for example, consisting of 13 trials and 1616 participants proved that those who consumed cranberry juice and pills were found to be preventing UTI, whereas this study observed that it didn't help at all. And there are many more such examples.
So, what should you do? Should you use cranberry juice as a measure to prevent UTI? Or should you just drop using it any further?
Consider the following 8 things before making any decisions.
1. Is Cranberry Juice Really Effective Against UTIs?
Urinary tract infection or UTI is the infection of your kidneys, ureters, bladder and/or urethra, i.e. the urinary system. The infection usually begins from the urethra and moves in the upward direction towards the kidneys. Mostly commonly UTI is caused by an organism called E.Coli, which has a special part called fimbriae that helps them easily attach to the urinary system, and establish an infection.
Cranberry is a native North American shrub that was the preferred fruit for the management of UTI by the Native Americans back when antibiotics did not exist. With research, it was found that proanthocyanidin (PAC), a component of cranberry, prevents the adherence of E.coli and other bacteria on the urinary tract. Without adherence, bacteria cannot cause infection.
This forms the basis of the hypothesis that states cranberry helps with UTI. And there are some studies that have shown cranberry to be effective, but with so much inconsistency in the results of many other studies, cranberry juice can only be treated as a supplement and not as a replacement of traditional medical management for UTI.
2. Are Cranberry Pills and Capsules Better?
Cranberry juice is very astringent and therefore some people cannot tolerate cranberry juice. A high dose of cranberry juice may even upset your stomach. Therefore, for such people, pills and capsules were produced.
Now the question arises: are pills and capsules superior to cranberry juice? Turns out, no!
When compared to cranberry juice, pills are less efficient, according to this study involving 1616 subjects. So, maybe save your money at that!
These pills are dietary supplements, and dietary supplements don't need the approval of the FDA in order to reach the store-counters. This means that there is no standard dosage for these pills and capsules. This could possibly be one of the many reasons why some pills work and some don't.
3. So, Should You Consider Cranberry Juice for Your UTI?
With mixed results from research, it's not a good idea to depend on cranberry products completely for the treatment of UTI.
There's no harm in trying out cranberry juice, though. It's a good source of antioxidants and will provide some great health benefits to you and is quite safe to use. And so you can try it out safely.
Trying out cranberry juice rather than pills or capsules would be superior. You can then go with your own experience. If it works for you, continue using it, and if not, then you can just enjoy the benefits of antioxidants.
There are no standard doses regarding its use, and apparently, every study used a different dosage. But you can get 8 ounces of pure cranberry juice three times a day to get the maximum benefit.
4. What Kind of Cranberry Juice You Can Consider for UTI?
Pure cranberry juice is most likely the version Native Americans were using, so that's your best bet at it right now.
Even if you are deciding to use cranberry juice for its other health benefits, pure cranberry juice is the best option. Do not go for the cranberry cocktails. Commercially produced cranberry juice full of artificial sweeteners.
Artificially sweetened cranberry juice may further worsen your UTI. Sweeteners like sodium saccharin, acesulfame K, and aspartame, are known to cause irritation to the bladder and worsen the symptoms of UTI.
Pure cranberry juice is what you need.
5. But Be Careful, It May Cause Drug-Interactions
Very little research has been done when it comes to cranberry juice and its interaction with drugs. However, some drug interactions have been reported with cranberry juice and certain medications.
1. A high dose of cranberry juice, i.e even 1-2L per day can possibly cause drug interaction with warfarin. The persistence of warfarin in your system for a longer time will make you prone to internal bleeding. Therefore, avoid using cranberry juice with warfarin.
2. Cranberry was also noted to delay the absorption of certain antibiotics like amoxicillin and cefaclor. Though, at moderate dose reduced absorption was not observed.
3. Some in-vitro studies have shown it to interfere with nifedipine (an antihypertensive medication). Whether or not similar action will be seen in humans is not known yet as no studies have been done in humans to confirm this so far.
Until more research proves otherwise, consider avoiding all cranberry products-- juices or supplements-- along with these medications.
6. Kidney Issues? You Might Want to Avoid Cranberry Supplements
Cranberry supplements have an added advantage of having no artificial sugars, and the added benefits of probiotics and vitamin c that further gives you an antioxidant boost and promote healthier digestion. But if you have kidney issues, especially kidney stones, you should avoid all kinds of cranberry supplements.
Several studies have suggested that cranberry supplements increase the risk of developing oxalate kidney stones. It is best that you use these supplements with precautions. Kidney stones can further worsen your UTI.
7. Keeping Hydrated Might Help You If You Have UTI:
Drinking water does a lot more than just making your skin glow and keeping your attention level high. It also flushes out the toxins from our system.
More hydration means more trips to the toilet, which in turn means flushing out the bacteria from the bladder and urethra more frequently. When you don't pee for a long time that allows the bacteria to multiply undisturbed in your urinary system.
So, if you have a problem with frequent UTI, focus on your hydration level more. Drink at least 2-3 liters of water each day.
8. Other Health Benefits of Pure Cranberry Juice That You Should Consider
Cranberry juice may not be that helpful in treating your UTI but it sure has some amazing health benefits that will make you consider adding cranberry juice in your routine. Some of its science-backed benefits are as follows:
- It is a good source of vitamins and minerals. Pure cranberry juice contains a healthy amount of vitamins A, B6, B12, C, E, and K. It is also rich in other electrolytes and minerals like potassium, calcium, and phosphorus. Not to mention, it keeps you hydrated. You can use it to supplement your daily dietary requirements.
- It's a rich source of antioxidants. Apart from having a good amount of vitamins A, C, E; all of which being antioxidants, they are also rich in polyphenols. Antioxidants are responsible for neutralizing the free-radicals that are responsible for inflammation in our body. They also provide some protection against cancer, cognitive decline, atherosclerosis, and various other chronic conditions.
- It helps maintain good heart health by increasing the good cholesterol levels (HDL) and thus reducing the risk of atherosclerosis. It maintains the vascular health and lipid profile in postmenopausal women as well.
- It may even help you if you are currently under triple therapy for gastric ulcers. Studies have shown that pure cranberry juice helps in eradication of H. pylori, a bacteria responsible for GI ulcers, when used with other medications for the treatment of gastric ulcers. It even maintains your digestive health by reducing intestinal inflammation.
- Cranberry juice also improves the lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) that are not linked to BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia) in older men, suggesting that it might be a good idea for older men to add cranberry juice in their diet to avoid voiding issues.
Should you depend on cranberry juice to treat your UTI? No! The results so far are quite conflicting and it's rather wise to go see your doctor if you pee burns. Antibiotics are still the gold-standard for the management of UTI.
But that doesn't mean that drinking cranberry juice every day is a bad idea. It has some pretty great health benefits, and you should not miss them.
To tackle your UTI, maintain good hygiene, proper hydration, a good diet, and seek medical help whenever required.