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Cranberry and Urinary Tract Infections

Cranberry and Urinary Tract InfectionsChances are good that your grandmother already knew this. The advice has been passed down for generations- “Drink cranberry juice to prevent bladder infections”. Modern science has now caught up with this effective home remedy. From basic science to clinical use, numerous studies have been conducted and we now have a deeper understanding of just how beneficial this little berry can be.



Tablet or Juice- They Both Reduce Bladder Infections

In a randomized, placebo controlled trial presented at the national meeting of the American Urological Association in June, 2001 “Both cranberry juice and cranberry tablets statistically significantly decreased the mean number of symptomatic urinary tract infections per year compared with placebo”. The study, presented by Dr. Lynn Stothers, also went on to demonstrate that “Total antibiotic consumption was decreased by 58% annually in both treatment arms compared to placebo”. This is obviously great news, but especially so for the many who develop secondary problems such as yeast infections after taking antibiotics. The amount of antibiotics needed for women who took cranberry juice or extract was reduced by more than half.



Studies Confirm Cranberry’s Benefits

Back in 1994, researchers at Harvard Medical School, in a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, demonstrated that women who drank 10 ounces of cranberry juice daily were 58% less likely to have bacteria and white blood cells in their urine. Fast forward to more recent times, and in a open, randomized study published June 30, 2001 in the British Medical Journal, researchers found that daily consumption of cranberry-lingonberry juice significantly decreased the number of urinary tract infections in the women studied.



It’s Not the Acid

The older thinking held that cranberry juice made the urine acidic. This acidic environment would kill bacteria, leading to a reduction in the number of bladder infections. Recent research has shown this to be wrong. It is felt that a compound found in cranberries, called proanthocyanidins, prevent certain bacteria from sticking on to the bladder lining. This allows the bladder to wash out the bacteria during urination, preventing the establishment of an infection.



Heart Healthy As Well?

Investigation into other health benefits of cranberries is underway. Research from the University of Wisconsin-Madison suggests a role for cranberry in maintaining healthy cholesterol levels. Scientists found that regular intake of cranberry juice powder substantially reduced total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels in pigs with high cholesterol levels in their bloodstream. Other research from the same institution suggests a role for cranberry as an antioxidant helping to maintain a healthy cardiovascular system.



Sources:
The Journal of Urology, 2001, Vol 165, No. 5 Supp, p 78.
Journal of the American Medical Association, 1994, Vol 271, pp 751-754.
British Medical Journal, 2001, Vol 322, p 1571.

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