Cranberry is the first thing, which comes to mind when thinking about natural urinary tract infection (UTI) prevention and treatment ideas. I came across several research papers, which state that cranberry doesn’t help treating or preventing urinary tract infection. I also read the same amount of research papers, which state the opposite. The US National Library of Medicine has over a 100 studies on this topic, but there is no consensus among researchers.
However, the scientists agree on the following:
Cranberry products could be used for UTI prevention:
- Researchers believe that cranberries contain substances that prevent infection-causing bacteria E. coli from sticking to the urinary tract walls.
- The existing clinical trials, which support cranberry usage to prevent UTI, stress that cranberry products will not treat an existing infection.
There is no easy way to tell, which cranberry product will work:
- There are various types of cranberry products and supplements, but the integrity (including authenticity, standardization, efficacy and safety) of cranberry fruit, juices and dietary supplements is not monitored by the FDA.
- Most studies of cranberry products (tablets and capsules) did not report how much of the ‘active’ ingredient the product contained, and therefore the products may not have had enough potency to be effective.
There are certain side-effects, which need to be considered, when taking cranberry products for a prolonged periods of time:
- Participants of the studies reported problems such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), upset stomachs, nausea and diarrhea.
- Patients might experience symptoms of bladder irritation.
- People who take the blood-thinning medication warfarin should avoid cranberry products because cranberries can interact with warfarin and cause excess bleeding.
- People who are prone to kidney stones should avoid cranberry juice due to the salts it contains, which could promote development of the oxalate stones.
My take on it:
I used cranberry pills for three months after my last UTI. I also used probiotics to prevent UTI recurrence. I have not had UTIs since then for more than a year now, but I feel like this is due to a range of solutions and tactics (read here about my tips to prevent UTIs naturally) rather than any one particular product.
- Don’t attempt to treat UTI with cranberries
- Choose tablets over sweetened juice
- Stop if you feel experience symptoms of irritated bladder