Do cranberries really help prevent urinary tract infections?

For decades, the idea has circulated that cranberry juice can treat or prevent UTIs, and some evidence from clinical trials suggests that this idea is more than an old wives’ tale, although the evidence for UTI prevention is more robust than for treatment.

In addition to clinical evidence, there is some mechanistic data to support the idea that consumption of cranberries might reduce UTIs.

What's with Cranberries that can help treat UTIs?


Cranberry juice and cranberry supplements have previously been recommended for preventing and/or treating UTIs, as cranberries are rich in potentially helpful phenolic compounds. Many plant phenols, such as flavonoids and tannins, have been investigated for therapeutic or medicinal properties, including antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.


For a UTI to occur, bacteria must adhere to and invade the lining of the bladder. Cranberries are rich in a compound called proanthocyanidins which interfere with the bacteria’s ability to the bladder wall, reducing the likelihood of infection.

Proanthocyanidins have documented antibacterial properties against both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria.

However, cranberry juice will not do the trick


Cranberry juice, especially the juice concentrates you find at the grocery store, will not treat a UTI or bladder infection. It can offer more hydration and possibly wash bacteria from your body more effectively, but the active ingredient in cranberry is long gone by the time it reaches your bladder.”

– Dr. Timothy Boone, Ph.D

Is it safe to take cranberry juice or supplement if you are on antibiotic treatment?

Recent studies have shown that cranberry juice may affect the way the body absorbs and metabolizes antibiotics used to treat UTIs so it’s safe not to take cranberry when in antibiotic treatment.

Other benefits of cranberries

In addition to antioxidants, cranberry juice offers small amounts of several vitamins and minerals, including:

  •  Vitamin B1
  • Vitamin B2
  •  Vitamin B3
  •  Vitamin B6
  •  Vitamin K
  •  Folate
  •  Calcium
  •  Magnesium
  • Manganese
  •  Potassium
  • Copper

So, what’s the conclusion?

Cranberries have many health benefits and can help reduce the risk of UTI.

But you should remember that there’s a certain concentration level of cranberry juice needed to be effective for the treatment of UTIs. Ditch the sweetened cranberry juice from the supermarket as it won’t be effective and opt for supplements instead.

Also, don’t consume cranberry if you’re on antibiotic treatment as recent studies have shown that cranberry juice may affect the way the body absorbs and metabolizes antibiotics used to treat UTIs.

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