Cranberries have been utilized for centuries to ward off cystitis in women. However, a recent study by Australian scientists has provided scientific justification for these properties. Cystitis is a prevalent problem that is usually treated with antibiotics. Still, it can manifest into a chronic condition, persistently recurring over time. Conversely, urethritis is another disorder that affects men more frequently than women.
Furthermore, an untreated urinary tract infection (UTI) can potentially lead to pyelonephritis. It is a severe complication characterized by inflammation of the kidneys, which can cause sepsis and even death.
Why are cranberries so special?
Cranberries are particularly remarkable due to their active ingredients, which prevent bacteria from adhering to the walls of the bladder. Consequently, cranberry juice and supplements made from this berry have been touted as a natural remedy for preventing cystitis. However, a previous review in 2012 based on data from 24 studies found no conclusive evidence to support this claim.
How the benefits of cranberries were determined
The medical scientists at Flinders University and the Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Adelaide recently conducted an updated review to refine the existing data on the properties of cranberries. This comprehensive review analyzed 50 studies that included nearly 9,000 participants.
To determine the benefits of cranberry products, the researchers employed a range of methods. Most of the studies involved comparing cranberry products to placebos or the absence of treatment. However, the true benefits of cranberry products emerged when the researchers broadened the scope of the review to include the latest available clinical data.
Results and conclusions of the researchers
Cranberries, whether taken as juice or capsules, have been found to reduce the occurrence of urinary tract infections (UTIs) in individuals with recurrent UTIs. The reduction is significant, at over 25% for women and more than 50% for children. In those who are prone to UTIs after medical procedures such as bladder radiation therapy, the reduction is as high as 53%.
What’s more, the incidence of side effects is minimal, with abdominal pain being the most commonly reported.
It is worth noting that the benefits of cranberry did not extend to elderly individuals, pregnant women, or those with bladder emptying issues. The researchers concluded that while cranberry does help prevent UTIs in women with frequent recurrences, further research is necessary to determine which UTI patients will benefit the most from consuming cranberry products.