Cranberries for Urinary Tract Health

cranberryCranberries have been used for centuries among Native American Indian tribes for treating urinary conditions and are currently a popular remedy for urinary tract infections (UTI’s). Research shows that cranberries are effective in preventing UTI’s by introducing chemicals into the bladder which keep bacteria from adhering to it. However, cranberries had no effect on bacteria which are already stuck to the bladder lining, making cranberries ineffective once someone is already suffering from a UTI. Cranberries have additional benefits in the urinary tract, including deodorizing of urine in those who suffer from urinary incontinence and treatment of neurogenic bladder.

Another interesting feature of cranberries is the high levels of salicylic acid they contain. Salicylic acid can reduce inflammation in the body, reduce the risk of blood clots, and protect the body against development of certain types of cancer.

If you are interested in supplementing with cranberry extract, take 300 to 400 milligrams one to three times per day. I had taken 400 milligrams daily for years with not a single UTI. Then I suddenly ran out and decided to take a month off to see if it would make a difference. Two weeks later, I was struck with a wicked UTI which completely flattened me out for two days. Needless to say, I resumed the daily cranberry extract supplementation and have recommended it to my female patients more heartily than ever.

Two cautionary points:

1) Cranberries contain large amounts of oxalates which collect in the urine. Since kidney stones are primarily composed of oxalate combined with calcium, those at risk should avoid drinking cranberry juice or taking cranberry extract.
2) Cranberries interact with warfarin (Coumadin) so individuals who are taking this medication should avoid them.

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