Myth or Fact: Does Cranberry Juice Treat Urinary Tract Infections
“Just drink some cranberry juice.”
That was what my mother always told if I got a urinary tract infection. I accepted it as a fact. Now, if a friend is complaining of pain, I repeat the phrase to them without thinking much of it. But, what if my mother and I had been wrong? What if cranberry juice does nothing for UTIs? I lost count of how many friends and acquaintances I had shared this information with. I felt a little bad that I had never looked it up. I decided to finally do some research.
A Prevention Not a Treatment
It was really easy to find information about cranberry juice and UTIs. Both the sources I found explained that cranberry is not a treatment. The National Kidney & Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse explains that it can be used as a way to prevent UTIs in the first place. Cranberries are acidic and eating them affects the acidity in the vagina. When the vagina becomes more acidic, it is more difficult for bacteria to grow and live in that environment.
On the other hand, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine states that there are no studies that link cranberry juice to preventing UTIs. It cited a clinical study where they gave a placebo to one group and cranberry to the other. Their research showed that there was no difference between the placebo and cranberry in preventing UTIs.
An article in the oxford journal referred to the first study done on cranberry and UTIs in 1966. After subjects went through cranberry juice therapy “53% of had a positive response and an additional 20% had a more modest benefit.” Unfortunately, 6 weeks after they stopped the treatment, the bacteria reappeared in a majority of the subjects. This article went on to reference more clinical trials that had been done over the years. The trials ended the same as the very first one. Either the cranberry juice had no effect or once the treatment stopped, the bacteria came back.
Myth or Fact?
So, what is the verdict? Myth or fact? From the evidence provided, cranberry does not treat UTIs, but it seems like they can help you prevent them…until you stop taking it. This doesn’t mean you should discard cranberry as an important fruit and nutrient. Cranberry contains antioxidants, such as flavonoids, anthocyanins and catechin. Triterpenoids are found in cranberries as well and are known to have anti-cancer properties.
Although, cranberries may not help treat UTIs or prevent them, they help our health in many other ways. Try integrating them into your diet. The benefits are worth it and the taste is delicious.