TLDR; The kind of cranberry juice you buy in a grocery store isn’t effective for treating a UTI.
Urinary tract infections are the second most common type of infection in the body. Women are especially prone to UTIs; their lifetime risk of having a UTI is greater than 50 percent. They affect more than 3 million Americans per year.
UTI’s are unpleasant (and can be painful), but they’re easy to treat with antibiotics and plenty of water. Untreated, they may progress into kidney infections which are much more serious.
Many people drink cranberry juice to “treat” a UTI. The active ingredient in cranberry (A-type proanthocyanidins or PACs) can actually block the adhesion of bacteria to the wall of the bladder.
But a new article from Texas A & M Health and Science disproves the idea that simply drinking cranberry juice will supply enough PACs to help.
“PACs interfere with the bacteria’s ability to bind to the wall of the bladder and create an infection,” said Timothy Boone, M.D., Ph.D., vice dean of the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine Houston in an article posted on Newswise.
However, PACs aren’t present in cranberry juice —only in cranberry capsules.
A study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that cranberry capsules lowered the risk of UTIs by 50 percent in women who had a catheter in place while undergoing gynecological surgery.
The cranberry dose in the capsule was the equivalent of drinking 28 ounces of cranberry juice.
“Cranberry juice, especially the juice concentrates you find at the grocery store, will not treat a UTI or bladder infection,” said Boone. “It can offer more hydration and possibly wash bacteria from your body more effectively, but the active ingredient in cranberry is long-gone by the time it reaches your bladder.”