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Does Cranberry Juice Really Help with UTIs?

If you get a urinary tract infection (UTI), the first piece of advice you’ll get from just about everybody you know is to drink cranberry juice.

But does cranberry juice really help with UTIs? Or is it just an old wives’ tale?

Before I answer that question, it’s important to understand UTIs. In a nutshell, 80-90% of UTIs are caused by a strain of E. coli called UPEC bacteria. (That’s a lot easier to pronounce than “uropathogenic Escherichia coli!”)

And while women are more prone to urinary tract infections than men, it doesn’t mean men don’t get UTIs.

Both men and women have urethras that bacteria can slip into. The only difference is that the male urethra is much longer than that of a female. So in men, the bacteria have to travel further to get into the bladder and cause an infection. But it can, and it does, still happen.

Now, the question at hand…

Does Cranberry Juice Really Help with UTIs?


A new analysis by Australian researchers concludes that, indeed, cranberry products do have a protective effect against UTIs and recurrent UTIs. They came to this finding after reviewing a total of 50 studies on the topic.

The magic comes from the polyphenols found in cranberries. These powerful antioxidants work to prevent bacteria from adhering to the wall of the bladder. And if the bacteria can’t gain any traction, it can’t infect the mucosal surface. Instead, the bacteria will pass out of the bladder and into the toilet.

In fact, some studies show cranberry extract provides up to an 80% adhesive reduction in the E. coli associated with UTIs.

But here’s the thing. A bottle of sugary cranberry juice cocktail isn’t going to do the trick. You need the good stuff! It’s better to drink pure, unsweetened cranberry juice, cranberry extract or take a cranberry supplement.

To ramp up your protection against UTIs I recommend D-Mannose as well.

It works similar to cranberries, but may be even more powerful.

The E. coli bacteria that commonly causes UTIs will stick to the D-Mannose. So the E. coli don’t have the chance to form a colony on the wall of the bladder, where they protect themselves in their protective mucus so antibiotics can’t get to them.

This is an important point, because when German researchers treated UTI patients with either D-Mannose or antibiotics, the cure rates between the two groups were similar. Additionally, symptom relief after three days was comparable between the D-Mannose group and the antibiotic group.

Plus, D-Mannose appears to protect against recurrent UTIs, which is a big benefit to those who frequently find themselves with symptoms.

Get Rid of UTIs Without Antibiotics

I think this information is something people prone to urinary tract infections need to know, especially considering how mainstream medicine tends to treat UTIs these days.

Generally, most clinics won’t even bother to do a urine analysis and sensitivity test. Instead, they’ll put you directly on an antibiotic like Bactrim. Or a quinolone. And maybe some Pyridium so that it doesn’t burn as much when you pee.

Not only does this contribute to antibiotic resistance, but it creates a serious short-term threat to your mental health.

Importantly, UTIs among older patients can often produce symptoms of confusion or delirium. So that’s not a good thing.

The problem is that, when you throw an antibiotic in on top of it, it can lead to further mental disturbances. Penicillin, sulfonamides, fluoroquinolones and macrolides are all associated with psychosis.

So, all in all, it’s not a good idea to mix UTIs with antibiotics unless you absolutely have to.

Instead, at the first sign of symptoms I recommend taking D-Mannose powder or tablets two or three times a day with unsweetened cranberry juice, cranberry extract or a cranberry supplement. At the same time, get plenty of fluid each day – preferably in the form of good old-fashioned water.

And two more things…

  1. Never hold your urine unless you absolutely have to. Peeing helps get rid of the bacteria in your urinary tract. If you don’t go when you need to, it allows the bacteria to gain ground.

  2. Don’t trap your “junk” in tight fitting clothes or unbreathable fabrics that promote bacterial growth in the genitals. This is practically an invitation for bacteria to grow and multiply.

When you take these steps, you may be able to completely avoid a UTI – naturally!


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