Does Cranberry Juice Help with a UTI?

UTIs are unpleasant conditions where bacteria enter the urethra and travel up the urinary tract, often infecting the bladder. One of the most popular home remedies associated with UTIs is drinking cranberry juice. However, research suggests that cranberry juice may be more effective in preventing UTIs than treating active infections.

Continue reading to see how cranberry juice helps prevent UTIs and what you can do to cure and prevent a UTI.

Is Cranberry Juice Good for a UTI?

While medication is available to treat UTIs, cranberry juice and cranberry juice supplements remain popular natural remedies for preventing and treating UTIs.

This is because cranberries contain compounds such as flavonoids and phenolic acids, which possess properties that may help with UTIs.

The flavonoids and phenolic acids which are found in cranberries can interfere with the ability of bacteria to stick to the lining of the urinary tract. If the bacteria cannot stick to the urinary tract, then they will not be able to infect it and can be flushed out of the body when urinating. This is one way in which cranberries, or more specifically their compounds, may help prevent UTIs and assist in treating them. 

These compounds in cranberries also decrease the number of bacteria held in “reservoirs’ in the gastrointestinal tracts and bladder. These bacteria can lead to UTIs, so decreasing their numbers lowers the risk of UTIs.

Cranberry juice may also help to decrease inflammation, which can help relieve symptoms in those with an active infection.

Can Drinking Cranberry Juice Prevent a UTI?

The research shows that cranberry juice may help to prevent UTIs, with a review of seven studies showing that cranberry supplements and cranberry juice reduced UTI recurrence by 26%.

Despite the potential of cranberry juice to prevent UTIs, there is much more evidence supporting the abilities of cranberry extract to prevent UTIs. This is because cranberry extract is more concentrated and contains more of the compounds that help prevent UTIs.

Can Cranberry Juice Cure a UTI?

While evidence suggests that cranberry juice may help prevent UTIs, research has not been able to provide enough evidence to prove that cranberry juice or cranberry extract can treat and cure UTIs.

The lack of evidence is partly because most studies only focus on the ability of cranberry juice to prevent UTIs, not on their ability to cure an active infection.

However, one feasibility study on 46 women did find that taking cranberry juice reduced the need for antibiotics and helped to clear the infection quicker than when taking antibiotics alone. However, this study possessed only a small sample, and larger studies are needed to confirm these results.

How Much Cranberry Juice Should You Drink?

If you’re looking to drink cranberry juice to prevent UTIs, it is typically most effective when drinking 8 ounces daily.

A 2016 study found that women with a history of recent UTIs who drank 8 ounces of cranberry juice each day for 24 weeks had fewer UTIs than women who did not drink cranberry juice. In fact, the number of UTIs experienced in the women who drank cranberry juice was almost half the number of UTIs in the placebo group.

However, if you are drinking cranberry juice regularly, it is recommended to drink unsweetened cranberry juice to avoid excess calories that can contribute to weight gain. 

How To Cure a UTI?

UTIs are most often treated with antibiotics to kill the bacteria and cure the infection. Antibiotics play an important role in controlling the infection and ensuring it does not become something more serious. They accomplish this by killing the bacteria or preventing the bacteria from multiplying. 

When taking antibiotics for UTIs, it is crucial to follow the complete course of antibiotics to reduce the risk of reinfection or antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Other Home Remedies for UTIs

While no home remedies can kill the bacteria causing UTIs in the way that antibiotics can, they are able to help relieve the symptoms caused by UTIs.

Drink Water

Urinating can be painful with a UTI, but it is essential to help flush the bacteria from your body. To help with urination, make sure that you stay hydrated and drink plenty of water.

Take Probiotics

When used along with antibiotic medication, probiotics may help to treat and prevent UTIs. This is because probiotics can help restore the balance of good bacteria in the body, which can fight the bad bacteria that infiltrate the urogenital system with a UTI.

Wear Loose Clothing

When your clothes are tight, moisture can become trapped, which allows bacteria to grow in the genitals and worsen the infection. By opting for loose-fitting clothing, your genitals remain dry and clean, which can help ease your symptoms.

How To Prevent a UTI?

You can implement many techniques and habits if you experience frequent UTIs and would like to prevent them.

Studies have shown that staying hydrated can help protect against UTIs. Additionally, with all the extra hydration, you will inevitably have to pee more often. When you get the urge, don’t delay going to the bathroom, as this allows bacteria to accumulate in the urinary tract, which can increase the risk of UTIs.

Your diet can also play a role in UTI risk, with studies finding that UTIs increased in frequency in those who consumed soda, coffee, or animal proteins. By lowering these foods and beverages, you may help to reduce your UTI risk.

When To See a Doctor?

UTIs can develop into severe conditions with health complications if they are left untreated, so it is essential to see a doctor if you notice any signs of a serious infection, including:

  • shaking
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • chills
  • a fever over 103ºF
  • blood in your urine

Get Help from An Online Doctor

If you suspect that you have a UTI, an online doctor is a convenient way to discuss your symptoms. With DrHouse, you can be connected with a board-certified doctor in just 15 minutes who can prescribe antibiotic medication to treat your infection and relieve your symptoms.

Key Takeaways

UTIs are unpleasant yet common conditions. When it comes to UTIs, one of the most common home remedies is drinking cranberry juice, although the research suggests that cranberry juice is more effective at preventing UTIs than treating an active infection.

While some UTIs go away on their own, many require antibiotics to avoid a more serious infection. Home remedies can also help relieve symptoms, with actions such as staying hydrated, taking probiotics, and wearing loose clothing helping your infection clear faster.

If you think you have a UTI, meeting with an online doctor is a great way to discuss your symptoms and receive an antibiotic. 

Sources:

  • Fu, Z., Liska, D., Talan, D., & Chung, M. (2017). Cranberry Reduces the Risk of Urinary Tract Infection Recurrence in Otherwise Healthy Women: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. The Journal Of Nutrition, 147(12), 2282-2288. doi: https://www.doi.org/10.3945/jn.117.254961 
  • Babar, A., Moore, L., Leblanc, V., Dudonné, S., Desjardins, Y., & Lemieux, S. et al. (2021). High dose versus low dose standardized cranberry proanthocyanidin extract for the prevention of recurrent urinary tract infection in healthy women: a double-blind randomized controlled trial. BMC Urology, 21(1). doi: https://www.doi.org/10.1186/s12894-021-00811-w 
  • Gbinigie, O., Spencer, E., Heneghan, C., Lee, J., & Butler, C. (2020). Cranberry Extract for Symptoms of Acute, Uncomplicated Urinary Tract Infection: A Systematic Review. Antibiotics, 10(1), 12. doi: https://www.doi.org/10.3390/antibiotics10010012 
  • Gbinigie, O., Allen, J., Williams, N., Moore, M., Hay, A., & Heneghan, C. et al. (2021). Does cranberry extract reduce antibiotic use for symptoms of acute uncomplicated urinary tract infections (CUTI)? A feasibility randomised trial. BMJ Open, 11(2), e046791. doi: https://www.doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2020-046791 
  • Maki, K., Kaspar, K., Khoo, C., Derrig, L., Schild, A., & Gupta, K. (2016). Consumption of a cranberry juice beverage lowered the number of clinical urinary tract infection episodes in women with a recent history of urinary tract infection. The American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition, 103(6), 1434-1442. doi: https://www.doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.116.130542 
  • Akgul, T., & Karakan, T. (2018). The role of probiotics in women with recurrent urinary tract infections. Türk Üroloji Dergisi/Turkish Journal Of Urology, 44(5), 377-383. doi: https://www.doi.org/10.5152/tud.2018.48742 
  • Hooton, T., Vecchio, M., Iroz, A., Tack, I., Dornic, Q., Seksek, I., & Lotan, Y. (2018). Effect of Increased Daily Water Intake in Premenopausal Women With Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections. JAMA Internal Medicine, 178(11), 1509. doi: https://www.doi.org/10.1001/jamainternmed.2018.4204 
  • Zhu, M., Wang, S., Zhu, Y., Wang, Z., Zhao, M., Chen, D., & Zhou, C. (2019). Behavioral and dietary risk factors of recurrent urinary tract infection in Chinese postmenopausal women: a case–control study. Journal Of International Medical Research, 48(3), 030006051988944. doi: https://www.doi.org/10.1177/0300060519889448 
  • Chen, Y., Chang, C., Chiu, T., Lin, M., & Lin, C. (2020). The risk of urinary tract infection in vegetarians and non-vegetarians: a prospective study. Scientific Reports, 10(1). doi: https://www.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-58006-6 
  • Maserejian, N., Wager, C., Giovannucci, E., Curto, T., McVary, K., & McKinlay, J. (2013). Intake of Caffeinated, Carbonated, or Citrus Beverage Types and Development of Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms in Men and Women. American Journal Of Epidemiology, 177(12), 1399-1410. doi: https://www.doi.org/10.1093/aje/kws411 

DrHouse articles are written by MDs, NPs, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. The contents of the DrHouse site are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you are experiencing high fever (>103F/39.4C), shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chest pain, heart palpitations, abnormal bruising, abnormal bleeding, extreme fatigue, dizziness, new weakness or paralysis, difficulty with speech, confusion, extreme pain in any body part, or inability to remain hydrated or keep down fluids or feel you may have any other life-threatening condition, please go to the emergency department or call 911 immediately.

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