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Does Cranberry Juice Treat UTIs? Experts Say Nope

Cranberries may be a good source of vitamin C, but experts say they aren't useful for treating urinary tract infections. (Steve Johnson/Flickr)
Cranberries may be a good source of vitamin C, but experts say they aren't useful for treating urinary tract infections. (Steve Johnson/Flickr)
October 10, 2017

SEATTLE – If you've ever had a urinary tract infection, chances are someone has suggested drinking cranberry juice as a natural way to cure it. The suggestion that the fruit product can cure infections exists widely, including on health websites. But does cranberry juice actually treat UTIs?

Adrianne Wesol, a urogynecologist at Kaiser Permanente, says studies large and small have found the answer is no. She says cranberry products, including tablets, capsules or powders, have not been shown to help with the infections.

"Definitely not effective for treating a urinary tract infection and very little effect for preventing a urinary tract infection," she says.

Wesol says people on blood-thinning medications such as warfarin or aspirin should avoid cranberry products altogether because of the potentially damaging effects they can have on the liver in large doses. UTIs are the most commonly diagnosed infection in older female patients. As men grow older, their chance of infection grows as well.

So how does one treat a UTI? Wesol says antibiotics are the most common form of treatment once an infection is underway. She says to prevent them, drink plenty of water.

"For some patients, I recommend increasing fluids to increase the liquid in the body and dilute the urine," she adds. "So the urine should be a light yellow and not a dark yellow."

Wesol says older folks should make sure to empty their bladders when they go the bathroom. She also says the medication estriol is the most common treatment besides antibiotics for menopausal women who experience frequent UTIs.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - WA