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Cranberries May Not Cure a UTI, But They Can't Hurt

Cranberries May Not Cure a UTI, But They Can't Hurt

By Jeffrey Sparenborg, MD

Sep 7, 2017

Updated Jul 13, 2023

5 min read


The debate around cranberry juice and treating or preventing UTIs has gone on for decades. And there’s some actual science behind why cranberries were singled out in the fruit stand as a remedy for such an infection.

Why cranberries?

Cranberries are known to contain a compound that prevents bacteria from sticking to the inner lining of the bladder. This compound is known as Type-A proanthocyanidin. It binds to the bacteria and prevents the bacteria from adhering to the bladder.

Do cranberry supplements actually work for a UTI?

There have been endless studies to examine if cranberry juice or an extract powder form (like Azo Cranberry tablets) are effective at treating an infection. The literature varies and many studies show a benefit. However, in 2012, a comprehensive review of primary research on this topic did not find any significant reduction in the number of infections women treated with cranberry juice had compared to women drinking a placebo.

Regardless, there are other factors people may want to consider. With the rise of drug resistant bacteria and the potential for damage to the lining of the bladder with long-term antibiotic use, doctors and patients are looking for safe and effective alternative forms of treatment.

Every bladder is unique.

We’re also learning from the latest science that infections have a great deal to do with one’s personal microbiome, the microorganisms in a particular environment including the body or a part of the body. This term was virtually foreign to most doctors less that a decade ago.

Each individual’s bladder “fingerprint” is unique so it makes sense that some patients found cranberry juice effective and others found it did nothing to help. Either way, it certainly doesn’t hurt, so there is no risk for a patient to give it a try.