Cranberries’ effects in preventing and treating urinary tract infections in women

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1. Overview

Urinary tract infections are extremely common in women, and once occur tend to be recurrent. It seems that cranberries are one of the berries that help prevent and treat urinary tract infections and there is scientific evidence of this.

With very few contraindications and drug interactions, cranberries are one of the safest herbal remedies and have excellent results in preventing infections and improving the symptoms of urinary tract infections.


1. Overview
2. Cranberries’ effects in preventing and treating urinary tract infections
3. Cranberries’ benefits for urinary tract health
4. Precautions and contraindications
5. The recommended dosage for prevention of urinary tract infections

2. Cranberries’ effects in preventing and treating urinary tract infections

Studies around the cranberries’ beneficial effects in preventing urinary tract infections were made especially for women and less for children and men.

Experts say that the effect is due to the fact that the fruit makes the urine more acidic and hostile to the growth and multiplication of bacteria Escherichia coli (E. coli), responsible for the occurrence of urinary tract infections. Research conducted so far reveals that cranberries contain substances that prevent E. coli bacteria remain long on the urinary tract walls.

Some theories claim that substances responsible for the prophylactic effect are the antioxidants, while others claim that active substances in fruit creates a slippery layer on the urinary tract walls, preventing bacteria to implant, to develop and cause infection.

3. Cranberries’ benefits for urinary tract health

No matter how it is consumed (as juice or tablets), cranberries and has proven effective in providing a healthy urinary tract and the latest studies of the researchers confirm this.

One study focused on monitoring women who had medical history of urinary tract infections caused by E. coli bacteria. Those who consumed about 50 g of concentrated cranberry juice daily for 6 months had a 20% lower risk than those who have not taken any measures to prevent urinary tract infections.

Another study proven that recurrent urinary tract infections were strongly diminished in sexually active women who combined administration of cranberry tablets with juice from the same fruit. They took one tablet 2 times a day and drank about 240 g concentrated cranberry juice, unsweetened or diluted 3 times a day for 12 months.

Another study focused on the effect of cranberry in preventing urinary tract infections demonstrated that women who frequently consumed cranberry products showed a 2-fold lower risk of developing symptoms of this type of infection.

Currently, there are few health organizations in the world that certified cranberries as treatment of urinary tract infections. Most of them unofficially encourage the consumption of this fruit, emphasizing the qualities in relieving symptoms of urinary infections, but say there are no sufficient medical evidences to attest to the preventative or therapeutic effect of cranberries.

People who want to use cranberries to prevent or combat recurrent urinary tract infections can, because the fruit has very few contraindications and is not hazardous to health.

4. Precautions and contraindications

Even with such evidence at hand, doctors sometimes remains reserved and say that cranberries is not a natural treatment that works for everyone. They also believe that there is some essential information that every patient suffering from these diseases needs to consider before resorting to this treatment.

There is no scientific evidence to show that cranberries offer these benefits for children or men. Research has been conducted on women and what we know for sure is that it helps prevent symptoms associated with urinary tract infections in patients with high risk.

Many studies and experts say that cranberries do not have the power to effectively treat active urinary tract infections, but to prevent them. Once the bacterium E. coli is installed on the wall of the urinary tract, administration of cranberries is useless.

Because of its acidity, cranberries can be quite difficult to manage in some people. More than half of those who took part in various experiments have shown some of these side effects:
- Gastroesophageal reflux;
- Stomach trouble;
- Nausea;
- Diarrhea.

Besides the beneficial effects of cranberry juice on health, there are a number of effects that can harm the body. Cranberry juice is high in some salts called oxalates. When the juice is consumed, oxalates crystallize and form kidney small and hard stones. People at risk of manifestation of this effect are already predisposed or already have problems with kidney stones.

People taking medicines, which are based on warfarin, to prevent blood clots should avoid cranberry, because it interferes with this substance and cause severe bleeding.

Some studies have shown that cranberries can stimulate increased absorption of vitamin B12 in patients who are on treatment with proton pump inhibitors.

In addition, there is a risk that by the administration of cranberry juice or tablets, the kidneys will be stimulated to metabolize alkaline medicines (like antidepressants and opioids) faster than should be and to reduce their efficiency.

5. The recommended dosage for prevention of urinary tract infections

The recommended daily dose varies according to the cranberry’s administration form – juice, tablets, cocktail etc.
Prophylaxis of urinary tract infections is given:
- One tablet of 300 or 400 mg of cranberry 2 times a day;
- 250 g juice, or unsweetened diluted cranberry 3 times a day.



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