We’ve all heard it. “Drink cranberry juice to flush out a bladder infection!” Is this really a medical remedy?
The answer is, Yes!
According to new research published in Archives of Internal Medicine, cranberry- containing products, especially cranberry juice, protect women against bladder infections, especially those prone to recurrent infections. (1)
Bladder infections, or urinary tract infections (UTI’s), are on the most commonly acquired bacterial infections, leading to approximately 7 million office visits and 1 million visits to emergency departments each year in the US, with estimated annual cost of $1.6 billion dollars. Approximately, 40-50% of women will experience at least one episode of UTI during their lifetimes. Some of my patients experience many more!
Fact or folklore?
For years, cranberry juice, and its derivative tablets and capsules, were perceived merely as a folk remedy to prevent UTI’s. Now, findings indicate that cranberry-containing products legitimately do contain powerful substances which protect against UTI’s – in the general population of women, as well as highly susceptible women, such as pregnant women or elderly patients.
The research reviewed 13 different randomized, controlled trials involving over 1,600 men, women and children of different populations including the elderly. The majority of trials were conducted in North America with the remainder performed in Finland, Italy and the United Kingdom.
How do cranberries help prevent bladder infections?
Cranberry ( genus Vaccinium) has been shown to contain a specific substance, known as A-type proanthocyanidins (PAC’s) which interfere with the way bacteria attach to the bladder wall.
To get a bit more technical, the PAC’s inhibit the adherence of P-fimbriated Escherichia coli (or E. coli, the most common bacteria leading to UTI) to urogenital mucosa. Cranberry juice was more effective than capsules or tablets, most likely due to the fact the women drinking the juice consumed approximately 2-3 glasses of cranberry juice /day and thus were better hydrated. The exact dose of PAC’s to prevent UTI’s has yet to be determined, so limit your intake of juice and increase water intake.
Here are 5 tips to decrease your risk of UTI.
1) Stay hydrated. Drink 6-8 glasses of water every day. If you feel some symptoms of UTI coming on, such as burning when you urinate or urinating more frequently, add 1-2 glasses of cranberry juice to your daily intake. (One caution: cranberry juice contains a large amount of sugar so if you are diabetic, speak with your physician before this.)
2) Be careful with personal hygiene. Always clean your genital area from front to back to avoid spreading bacteria from your rectum to your vagina.
3) Urinate after sex. This will help flush out the bacteria that may be heading towards your urethra, which is the opening where urine comes out from your bladder.
4) Avoid the use of scented soaps, feminine deodorants and colored toilet paper. These may contain chemicals which can irritate your genital area.
5) Avoid prolonged activities that may increase urinary tract infections such as prolonged bicycle rides, horse riding or motorcycles. Instead, take a break every 1-2 hours and empty your bladder.
If you are persistently prone to UTI’s, especially after having sex, your physician may prescribe an antibiotic which will prevent these infections.
So stock up on some cranberry juice! Your bladder will thank you for it.
1) Wang, CH., et al(2012). Cranberry-Containing Products for Prevention of Urinary Tract Infections in Susceptible Populations: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Arch Intern Med; 172 (13); 988-996.
Please share any other tips you may have to reduce or treat bladder infections. The Listen To Your Libido Community is waiting to hear from you!