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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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September 05, 2008

Cranberry Juice and UTIs

By Worker Bee
20 Comments

cranberriesYou’ve known for years that cranberries can help stave off urinary tract infections (UTIs), but now scientists have figured out the mechanism behind the benefit!

In a study published in this month’s Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces, researchers from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts analyzed the Gibbs free energy of adhesion changes between bacteria and uroepithelial cells exposed to varying concentrations of cranberry liquids. In English? Essentially, the researchers extracted some cells from the inside of the urinary tract, threw in some bacteria, doused them with cranberry juice and watched to see how they would interact.

According to the researchers, when bacteria with fimbriae (a fancy term for hair-like projections on an organism) are exposed to even low concentrations of cranberry juice, the energy levels of the bacteria were increased to levels that made it difficult to attach to the urinary tract cell. Confused? So were we…until you consider that those hair-like projections are always present on the virulent bacteria responsible for causing UTIs and not on other, healthy bacteria.

Speaking to the mechanism behind the…uhhh…mechanism, the researchers suggest that the fact that the cranberry juice only affected bacteria with fimbriae suggests that something in the juice may directly change the molecular structure of the fimbriae themselves.

Commenting on the data, study author, Terri Camesano, notes that in the case of UTIs, “cranberry juice targets the right bacteria — those that cause disease — but has no effect on non-pathogenic organisms, suggesting that cranberry juice will not disrupt bacteria that are part of the normal flora in the gut.” In addition, Sano notes that “unpublished work also shows cranberry juice has potent effects on disease-causing bacteria, but that the effect is temporary.”

So how much juice are we talking here? Well, according to the researchers, fewer and fewer attachments were observed as the concentration of cranberry juice were increased, suggesting that in order to “realize the antibacterial benefits of cranberry, one must consume cranberry juice regularly, perhaps daily.” They do note, however, that regular cranberry juice cocktail and sugar-free cranberry juice both work equally well to reduce infections.

To keep it primal, we’d suggest adding a handful of raw cranberries to a salad (a 100g serving has 12 grams of carbs). If you’re in a rush though (or simply prone to UTIs) we’d suggest opting for a reduced sugar cranberry juice – just make sure it’s made with actual juice!

amayu Flickr Photo (CC)

Further Reading:

Workout in a Pill?

Calorie Restriction and Bone Loss

Sleep More to Forget Less

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20 Comments on "Cranberry Juice and UTIs"

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Jen
Jen
8 years 24 days ago

That’s awesome!
And no I had no idea that cranberries could help cure UTI. Just goes to show that science is making breakthroughs all the time.

Steve
Steve
8 years 24 days ago

Very well explained. And I do enjoy cranberries, but unfortunately not on a daily basis.

almost vegetarian
8 years 24 days ago

Fascinating stuff. But there is one small snag: I can not abide the taste of cranberries. Well, not unless there is rather a lot of sugar involved. Too much sugar, actually.

So it is just not going to work for me.

Ah well.

Cheers!

Mary Staudinger
Mary Staudinger
6 years 4 months ago

You can use Stevia as a replacement for sugar without all the calories and it tastes like sugar. I cook with it.

Crystal
Crystal
8 years 24 days ago

This info. has been around a long time. I developed a bladder infection while pregnant and didn’t want to take anti-biotics. I kept my bladder full of cranberry juice for 2 days–all better.

I wouldn’t buy the stuff at the grocery store that is full of sugar and water. At the health food store you can find 100% cranberry juice. Mix 2-4 oz. with water to taste. Not bad at all, especially if you need it.

RBH
RBH
8 years 24 days ago

Yes this is one of the few things that truly delivers!

Supplemental forms of cranberries such as concentrates, extracts, and the D-Mannose sugar found in cranberries and some other fruits, also works very well. You can even find these in the grocery store now.

Every time I get a UTI I am eternally grateful that I have this berry at my disposal.

BTW Mark your website is wonderful.

Karin RN
8 years 23 days ago

Yes, it works for UTI. Not well known, though, is it’s effect to Coumadin level. It elevates coumadin level (measured as INR in blood test) eradically, making the coumadin dangerous and its level hard to control. So, for those who take coumadin as a blood thinner for clots, stroke, atrial fibrillation, be careful. You may not find it in the books or any study just yet, but from working in 3 different nursing homes in the past, we noticed a big correlation. A few other nurses, the veteran ones, know about this as well.

Anna
8 years 23 days ago
Ahhh, UTIs. I remember them well. Haven’t had one since I gave up starch and sugar foods and got my blood sugar in a normal range. High sugar/starch consumption and/or hyperglycemia (high blood glucose) is a underlying and often overlooked risk factor for frequent UTIs. Other risk factors (for females) include synthetic hormone contraception, tissue changes from the hormonal shifts of perimenopause and menopause, not to mention, certain, um, activities, and dehydration, etc. Staying healthy, rested, nourished, and keeping the immune system in tip-top shape (dare I say, follow the Primal Blueprint?) goes a long way toward warding off UTIs… Read more »
Di
Di
6 years 4 months ago
This is great information. I used to get UTIs a lot. In fact, I used to go to my doctor so much (because they would not prescribe a prescription without funning tests). My doctor just told me that bladder infections are something that I just have to live with. I was so bummed. Knowing that everytime I travel I always have to take my antibiotics with me. If I ever left them home, I always had on my mind that one was going to come. I started following the primal blueprint because I entered into a challenge at my crossfit… Read more »
Tina
Tina
5 years 3 months ago

I have tried it all and I am so happy I found your post!! Everytime I go to the Doctor they find not bacteria in my test. I am currently between insurance. My new insurance kicks in I will be evaluated for IC in the meantime I will start a regimen of baking soda.

Lottie
Lottie
2 years 8 months ago

Hi Anna, I know this post is years old but what is the book on IC you mentioned

Thanks Lottie

Brooke
Brooke
7 years 11 months ago

For all of you who cannot “abide” the taste of cranberries (love that!) or who are watching your sugar intake, which can be high in cranberry juice, there is an option. I myself cannot handle the acidity, although I enjoy the flavor. I take a concentrated cranberry capsule. Works wonders!! It works as quickly if not quicker then gallons of juice!

M123
M123
7 years 9 months ago

Cranberry is poison. Do not take. There is high correlation between cranberry intake and UTI mimicking chronic illness known as interstitial cystitis. Please read the following:

http://www.bladder-health.org/e-coli-cranberry.htm.

trackback
7 years 8 months ago

[…] BPAs are still a problem despite government reassurance (like the irradiation issue), cranberry juice and UTIs, limiting fructose intake may help weight loss, 15-minute meals from Mark *drool* (over […]

Sully
7 years 2 months ago

Very interesting read…I like the mention of my Alma Mater too (Worcester Polytech aka WPI)…

Helen
Helen
6 years 5 months ago

Thank you for that detailed advice, Anna – very helpful!

Tina
Tina
5 years 3 months ago

Anna,

I have tried it all and I am so happy I found your post!! Everytime I go to the Doctor they find not bacteria in my test. I am currently between insurance. My new insurance kicks in I will be evaluated for IC in the meantime I will start a regimen of baking soda.

Lottie
Lottie
2 years 8 months ago

Has the baking soda helped?

trackback

[…] has proven effective at preventing urinary tract infections, but whether or not it can be an effective treatment remains to be […]

Nicole
Nicole
2 years 2 months ago
I have been prone to UTI’s since I was a baby. Throughout my life I have been on a low dose preventative antibiotic. My mom would always have cranberry juice in the house and made me have a cup a day. I hated it, but still did it. I don’t think this is new information, as I was doing this in the mid 80’s. Then as a young adult I did a lot of research and tried getting of the preventative antibiotics and do the straight cranberry regime. I would try and try again, but it never would consistently hold… Read more »
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