Cranberry For UTI: Are They Effective?

Cranberry For UTI

People are increasingly using Cranberry for UTIs (urinary tract infections). I have been seeing lots of prescriptions of cranberry supplements for UTIs.

It is very important to note that cranberry is not an antibiotic and treating UTI with cranberry supplements is not wise.

This is especially true for older patients and patients who have diabetes, urinary tract obstructive symptoms, and those who are immunocompromised.

Cranberries may relieve some of the lower urinary tract symptoms in individuals with cystitis, but they should not be used to treat UTI, and complicated UTI in particular.

With the growing health costs, people are preferring OTC treatments over prescription medicines.

In addition, it is a misconception that natural products such as cranberry extracts do not have any side effects. Hence, people opt for natural remedies.

Let’s explore the benefits and side effects of cranberries in the context of UTI treatment.


What are Cranberries, and How do they prevent UTIs?

cranberry for uti

Cranberry is a shrub that produces dark red fruits that contain abundant amounts of salicylic acid and phytochemicals, particularly proanthocyanidins.

Interestingly, these proanthocyanidins possess some anti-adhesive properties. As a result, these phytochemicals prevent the adhesion of bacteria to the walls of the urinary tract.

Moreover, cranberries make the urine comparatively more acidic, making it less friendly for bacteria like Escherichia coli.

It is also known to reduce inflammation and boost immune responses within the body.

In this way, cranberries help in the prevention of UTIs. However, it is not a confirmed substitute for medical treatment because this mainly works as a preventive measure.


Scientific Evidence on Cranberry for UTI

We know that cranberry has the potential to prevent UTIs. Let’s check if this effect of cranberries is scientifically proven.

According to one study, around 50 RCTs that involved 8857, the study reported that cranberry products help to prevent UTI symptoms in women and children with frequent UTIs.

However, the study said that this intervention was ineffective in older adults, adults with bladder dysfunction, and pregnant women. [Ref]

Another study concludes that cranberry juice in high concentrations of proanthocyanidins effectively prevents pediatric nonfebrile UTIs[Ref]

Some findings also suggest that cranberry helps reduce UTI-related symptoms by suppressing inflammation in the body. [Ref]

A recent study concluded that the use of cranberry juice decreased patient complaints after three days and improved their well-being within seven days.

The study also suggested cranberry as a favorable alternative to antibiotics, particularly in uncomplicated UTIs. [Ref]

Although much data supports cranberry use for UTI prevention, it is still insufficient to make this an alternative approach to antibiotics. Moreover, some conditions like active UTIs might still need a medical approach to be cured properly.

However, there is strong evidence that cranberries prevent UTIs and can also contribute to the existing challenges of antibiotic resistance.


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What is the Dosage of Cranberry for UTI?

Although cranberry helps ease UTI symptoms, you cannot expect it to work wonders just with one cup. To have a proper effect, you need a fixed daily dose.

Unfortunately, natural products are the most overdosed ones as people think they might have adverse effects. That is wrong; everything is beneficial when taken within the recommended doses.

According to scientific data, 240-300 mL of cranberry juice per day is safe for urinary tract infections.

For supplements, the safe dose is 500 mg daily in women with recurrent UTIs.

Cranberry Juice or Extract: Which one is Good for You?

Cranberry juice or its extract is beneficial as far as its impact on UTI is concerned. However, both have different doses, and some people might benefit more from one as compared to the other.

For instance, if you are diabetic, it’s safer to use cranberry extract to avoid the extra sugar intake that comes with the juice. Similarly, if you are conscious about your calorie intake, you might want to skip the juice option.

Apart from this, cranberry juice is a convenient and easy way to get the optimal health benefits. Moreover, some people like its taste, so juice is pretty much an option for them.

Besides this, some data also supports that cranberry extract is more beneficial as it has a higher concentration of the particular phytochemical necessary for UTI prevention.


Side Effects of Cranberry Extracts:

Cranberry is a natural product, and that is why the side effects are minimal. But they cannot be overlooked in certain people like the elderly, pregnant women, and people with chronic diseases.

Some of the common side effects include:

  • Allergic reactions
  • The citrus juice might cause sore throat.
  • It might cause discomfort in people with GERD
  • It might interact with blood thinning medications.
  • Cranberries are high in oxalates. This can increase the risk of oxalate stones in high-risk groups.
  • It might have mild interactions with other medications like statins, etc.


Cranberry is not yet a certified treatment option for urinary tract infections. However, it can be used to prevent recurrent UTIs in women and children.

To be on the safe side, cranberry juice or extract should be used in a calculated dose for the recommended time only.

Additionally, authentic research is needed to support its use as an alternative to antibiotics and other medications.

Still, the use of cranberry can highly overcome the present issue of antibiotic resistance, which is becoming a common problem these days.


What do you think?

Written by Dr. Ahmed

I am Dr. Ahmed (MBBS; FCPS Medicine), an Internist and a practicing physician. I am in the medical field for over fifteen years working in one of the busiest hospitals and writing medical posts for over 5 years.

I love my family, my profession, my blog, nature, hiking, and simple life. Read more about me, my family, and my qualifications

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