Cranberry juice is popularly known as an alternative remedy for urinary tract infections. Does cranberry juice help UTI? Although health professionals don’t guarantee complete effectiveness, they say that people may drink it to help relieve symptoms.
Cranberries can be taken as a juice, as a concentrate, or as a supplement. They have varying levels of effectiveness depending on the levels of the active ingredient called PAC.
How Cranberry Juice Works
The cranberry ingredient Proanthocyanidins (PAC) may prevent bacteria from adhering to the walls of the urinary tract. Although researchers aren’t sure how this happens, they think that PAC alters bacterial structure or creates a slippery coating on the urinary tract.
Evidence for Cranberry Juice’s Effectiveness
A number of studies were done to determine whether cranberry juice does work against UTI. These are some of them:
A 2012 study conducted by Cochrane states that cranberries can decrease the number of UTIs over a one year period with women who are prone to developing the condition. This means it is good for females with recurrent UTI.
According to a 2013 meta-analysis of research studies, cranberry in juice and supplement form reduced more UTI cases as compared to placebos. Thus, cranberries do have the capability to help UTI.
There are studies that suggest the PAC in cranberry juice is not destroyed by the digestive juices in the stomach. It is said that this takes effect within 8 hours of consumption of the juice.
A study of women who drank cranberry-lingonberry juice concentrate for 6 months revealed that they decreased their risk of developing a UTI by 20% compared to women who didn’t take this concoction.
In another experiment, cranberry juice and pills were given to sexually active female patients who took them three times daily for a year. These women got fewer symptoms of UTI as compared to those who got placebos.
Some Precautions in Drinking Cranberry Juice
There are some cons to drinking cranberry for UTI though. Cranberry juices may not contain enough PAC to be effective against infections. Commercial processing strips off nutrients and decreases PAC levels.
If you want to get the most out of the juice, try making the juice yourself, or get organic products. You can also choose concentrates to drink more.
Juice vs. Supplements
Cranberry supplements are more potent than juice. In some studies, subjects who took cranberry supplements benefitted more than those who drank juice. However, it’s difficult to tell whether a supplement really contains PAC so buy only from reputable brands.
Seek Your Doctor’s Advice
Cranberries may not work for everyone. There is evidence that they help UTI-prone women, but studies with other types of people are few. You may still try it though, for as long as you’re ok with it.
As mentioned, cranberry ingredients only prevent bacteria from lingering in the urinary tract, but they do not kill them. If you’re infected, you probably need an antibiotic treatment.
Cranberries are relatively safe but it is still best to talk with your physician before drinking it for UTI. They may cause side-effects such as stomach upsets, GERD, and nausea. Some medication may interact with them and cause bleeding disorders.
Does cranberry juice help UTI? Yes, it may help with UTI but effects are not guaranteed. Consult your doctor to be sure on what to do!