Wives’ Tale Alert: Does Cranberry Really Help Urinary Tract Infections?

Urinary tract infections can be cured with cranberry juice right? Well, the old wives’ tale may not be true after all.  It looks like cranberry juice may not actually be able to treat urinary tract infections.  A recent review examined all the studies related on this topic, and we mean ALL. The researchers looked at laboratory studies, animal studies and human studies, and their conclusions were that the results are too varied to say that cranberry products conclusively assist with UTI prevention.  Some studies showed that in people with recurrent UTIs cranberry juice ingestion can help prevention, though others have not.  Moreover, the evidence supporting that cranberry juice can help with treatment of an already developed UTI is even less convincing.

So why have some women sworn by this method for years?

Cranberries contain anthocyandins, or flavonols that can make it more difficult for bacteria to adhere (and grow) to bladder or urethral walls.  Unfortunately, this approach seems to work in only some of the people some of the time.  Also, the only way that one can even possibly ingest enough cranberry products to see an effect would be through juice, not dried, fresh cranberries or in  baked goods with cranberries.  It seems that if you suffer from recurrent UTIs, the most conservative way to prevent them is through antibiotics, folks.

However, there are many other reasons to keep eating cranberries.

The flavonols have anti-cancer properties, reduce your risk of heart disease, and keep your skin looking young.  They are also high in fiber and vitamin K, as well as being a naturally sweet treat that are low in calories.  Be careful when drinking the juice on a regular basis, it is often loaded with added sugar because the pure juice is too tart for our taste buds.  Either find a sugar free variety, or water it down.

So toss the little red fruit in your salad or your morning yogurt this summer and enjoy!

For more information about natural relief from UTI’s check out this article.


  • Two problems with this article: First — Who is “they”? (“They looked at laboratory studies…”). I assume researchers, but shouldn’t a science and health e-zine make that clear for the reader?

    Second — The articles you claim to cite have to do with UTI prevention, not treatment. The writer even points this out as the focus of the studies surveyed by “them.” Why then is the focus of the article the debunking of the “treatment” tale?

    Also, FYI, there are grammatical errors in the title and health tip.

  • I have frequent urinary tract infections and the only medicine I use is cranberries–because it works every time.

  • I started taking cranberry tablets as a preventative after experiencing one urinary tract infection; I have not had another one (I used to get an infection every few months). My doctor recommended taking the Lady Soma Cranberry Concentrate with Vitamin C (which he recommended for his wife and it worked wonders) to avoid recurrent infections. I hate taking antibiotics and I worry about antibiotic immunity. I usually take 2 pills a day and then 2 after I have intercourse as an additional preventative measure.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *