Sunday, 8 March 2015

Cranberries and Their Use in Treating Urinary Tract Infections

Can Cranberries Really Help with Urinary Tract Infections?

cranberries on the bush
cranberries on the bush from
This is one of my occasionally posts on specific medical problems. I have often been asked if natural remedies really work, in this case using cranberries as part of a treatment programme when you have a urinary tract infection. Do they really work? Providing you are not using sweetened cranberry juice since the sugar has the opposite effect, I would say, yes to that.

Natural Healing Properities of Cranberries

Cranberries do indeed have a beneficial effect on the urinary system, perhaps more effectively in prevention than in treating urinary tract infections (UTIs). Cranberries contain proanthocyanidins which have been proved to stop bacteria, in particular E coli, from sticking to the walls of the bladder. It is less effective on bacterial cells that are already adhered but can still be useful during acute cystitis. Some tips on preventing UTIs are included at the end of this short article.
I would however, warn against using processed packaged cranberry juices. These tend to contain too much sugar and chemical preservatives to be of any value. Indeed the sugar will aggravate the situation as bacteria thrive in sweet environments. If possible squeeze your own cranberries. Simply wash them thoroughly and put in a blender or food processor.
In preventing recurrent urinary tract infections 400 mgs in capsule form taken twice daily for 3 months can be beneficial. Like every supplement it is inadvisable to take them continuously. I would only recommend cranberries be used routinely in prevention therapy only by those people who have a recurring problem with UTIs.
To simplify it, one serving is about 55 grams, about half a cup, of cranberries will make around 6 ounces of pure cranberry juice. Pure cranberry juice is very bitter but don't be tempted to add sugar or sweetener. Think of it as medicine, only without the 'spoonful of sugar to help it go down'. Alternately dilute it with water or make it into a tea or tisane. You could even consider adding raw berries to your morning cereal.
In addition cranberries are known to contain antioxidants, those natural chemicals that destroy free radicals that cause heart disease and cancer and is known to reduce cholesterol and so have additional healthy benefits.
Warning: Taking large amounts of cranberry juice over a period of time can cause gastro-intestinal problems and anyone on warfarin, the blood thinning drug, must not take cranberries at all.

lady with glass of cranberry juice
lady with glass of cranberry juice from

All this said, other measures of prevention of UTIs and treatment in cystitis should also be emphasized.
1. Drinking at least eight glasses of pure water every day will help flush the urinary tract system, more is needed during cystitis attack.
2. Try to go to the bathroom as soon as you feel the urge to urinate as urine sitting in the bladder is a perfect environment for bacterial growth.
3. If you are prone to repeated infections it is particularly important that you pay close attention to personal hygiene. Most UTIs are caused by E coli from the digestive tract, so wiping from front to back after urinating and after a bowel movement is advisable.
4. Frequent washing especially after sexual intercourse is also a good preventive measure.
5. Wearing cotton panties, without nylon is also better.
6. A good diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables especially those rich in Vitamin C will help.
7. If you are a smoker, stop. It destroys Vitamin C which is a good preventative.
8. Cut down on all caffeine rich products including coffee and colas.

1 comment:

  1. I'm trying the cranberry supplements now. Lots of good advice here.