"Cranberry has long been touted as a natural preventative for UTIs, and numerous clinical studies using either juice or dry extracts have lent credence to this premise," Bill J. Gurley, of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock, wrote in an accompanying editorial.
Exactly how cranberries may prevent or treat UTIs is not fully understood, but cranberries contain fructose (fruit sugar) and type A proanthocyanidins, which can prevent E. coli from sticking to the bladder walls. The cranberry extract may not have been as bioavailable as the antibiotic, which could have skewed the findings in favor of the antibiotic in this study, Gurley wrote.
"We have been using cranberry juice extract and capsules for a long time," said Dr. Carolyn Dean, a naturopathic physician in Maui, Hawaii. "It stops adhesion of bacteria to the bladder wall."
Antibiotics kill bacteria, while the cranberry extract provides more of a mechanical solution, she explained.
Dean said there is still a role for cranberry juice and/or extract in preventing UTIs. "Sexually active women whose bladder feels irritated after sex should take cranberry capsules after intercourse as a preventative," she said. "If you do develop a UTI, you can increase the amount of cranberry extract you are taking or consider antibiotics."
The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has more on urinary tract infections.
SOURCES: Suzanne Geerlings, M.D., Ph.D., infectious diseases expert, Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam; Bill J. Gurley, Ph.D., University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, Ark.; Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D., n
All rights reserved