Can cranberries cure Urinary Tract Infections? New study says, 'yes'
Whenever we look for home remedies for Urinary Tract Infections, or UTIs, on the internet, cranberries pop up on our screens. And, makes us wonder - are they any good to treat the painful condition most women experience at least once in their lifetime? 50 to 60 per cent, to be exact, according to a journal titled Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections Management in Women published in the National Library of Medicine journal.
To answer this pressing question, researchers have reviewed 50 previous trials covering 8,857 participants, in total, for a new study. And, they say that "drinking cranberries as a juice or taking capsules reduces the number of UTIs in women with recurrent cases, in children and in people susceptible to UTIs following medical interventions such as bladder radiotherapy".
The study says that the risk of developing a UTI reduces by more than a quarter in women with recurrent cases of infection, by over a half in children, and by just over a half for people likely to get UTIs after medical procedures.
"The studies we looked at included a range of methods to determine the benefits of cranberry products," says epidemiologist Jacqueline Stephens from Flinders University in Australia. "The vast majority compared cranberry products with a placebo or no treatment for UTI and determined drinking cranberries as a juice or taking capsules reduced the number of UTIs in women with recurrent cases, in children and in people susceptible to UTIs following medical interventions such as bladder radiotherapy."
Very few participants in the 50 trials reported side effects, stomach pain being the most common. And, they didn't compare cranberry products directly to antibiotics or probiotics. The vast majority compared cranberry products with a placebo or no treatment for UTIs.
Other reported gaps in the study: The findings don't apply across the board. No benefits of cranberries were shown for pregnant ladies, older adults, or people with bladder emptying problems. However, it does show a reduced risk of UTIs in some groups of people.
"This incredible result didn't really surprise us, as we're taught that when there's more and better evidence, the truth will ultimately come out," says epidemiologist Gabrielle Williams from The Children's Hospital at Westmead in Australia.
Cranberries have been used by Native Americans for many years to treat bladder and kidney ailments. Therapeutic applications of the berry date back to the 17th century, as an effective remedy for blood disorders, stomach ailments, nausea, liver problems, and in some cases, even cancer. Before the discovery of antibiotics like Norflox 400, cranberry was considered a popular treatment for urinary tract infections (UTIs). However, scientific evidence to back this traditional remedy is still limited.