Wednesday’s Ask Dr. Walt — What about Cranberries for UTIs?

Dear Dr. Walt,

Are cranberry supplements helpful for men or women when it comes to urinary health? Can they help with symptoms of BPH or prostatitis in men or urinary tract infections in women?

—Seeking Kidney Health in Kansas

Dear Urinary Aficionado,

FOR WOMEN:

Cranberry has been used with some success by women for many decades to prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs).

We now know that compounds in cranberries known as PACs (proanthocyanidins), and maybe others, limit the ability of the E. colibacteria that cause the infection to attach to the walls of the bladder and urinary tract and gain a foothold.

Meta-analyses of clinical studies suggest that taking cranberry products, including cranberry juice or cranberry extracts, can reduce the incidence of UTIs by 35% to 38% compared to not taking the products.

This risk reduction was especially prominent in women with recurrent infections and children.

According to the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database (NMCD), cranberry products that have been shown to be effective in clinical research include cranberry juice cocktail (Ocean Spray) 300 mL consumed daily and cranberry juice plus alpine cranberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea) 50 mL daily.

In addition to drinking cranberry juice, clinical research also supports the use of certain cranberry-containing capsules such as Natural Cranberry with Vitamin C (Solgar) 800 mg twice daily or a those containing a specific cranberry extract (Cran-Max from Buckton Scott) 500 mg daily.

The experts at the NMCD say, “The evidence for cranberry just keeps getting stronger.”

They add, “Explain to patients that cranberry might be worth trying for preventing recurrent urinary tract infections. Recommend either cranberry juice cocktail or one of the specific cranberry capsule products that have been studied.”

However, and this is very important to emphasize, they add, “Tell patients that there is no evidence cranberry juice is effective for treating an acute urinary tract infection.”

FOR MEN:

For us guys, the news is not as good.

The experts at the NMCD say, “There is insufficient reliable evidence to rate cranberry use for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) or prostatitis.”

However, they add that preliminary research shows that taking powered dried cranberry fruit 500 mg three times daily for six months may improve symptoms in men with clinically confirmed non-bacterial prostatitis.

Dr. Walt

© Copyright WLL, INC. 2018. This blog provides a wide variety of general health information only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from your regular physician. If you are concerned about your health, take what you learn from this blog and meet with your personal doctor to discuss your concerns.
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