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Cystitis and urinary tract infections can be counteracted with cranberry, here is the definitive study

May 04, 2023
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Cystitis and urinary tract infections can be counteracted with cranberry, here is the definitive study

Cranberry juice and capsules containing extracts of this fruit are a valid remedy to prevent cystitis and recurrent urinary tract infections. The research that unequivocally demonstrates this was published a few weeks ago in the Cochrane Reviews magazine by an Australian team from Flinders University and The Children's Hospital at Westmead (Williams et al, Cochrane Reviews, Apr 2023).

Cystitis and urinary tract infections, causes and symptoms

The Escherichia coli bacterium is the main cause of cystitis and urinary tract infections in general. These urinary infections cause pain in the lower abdomen, burning, difficulty urinating and sometimes even back pain and fever. And what's worse is that these infections tend to come back even several times a year, becoming a very annoying disorder indeed. Antibiotics are usually used to treat urinary tract infections, but with the problem that bacterial infections are often very resistant to treatment and medicines can cause side effects. On the other hand, if not properly treated, urinary tract infection can, in some cases, cause kidney complications. Urinary tract infections are very common conditions that can affect up to a third of all women, the majority of the elderly, and those who have bladder problems due to trauma or surgery.

Therefore, given the possible consequences and the number of people involved, it is clear that it is very important to find safe and effective remedies that help prevent urinary tract infections.

Cranberry, can it help against cystitis?

The cranberry is a berry, red and shiny, characterized by a sour taste.

The cranberry also has another important characteristic, namely that it is rich in proanthocyanidins, which are antioxidant substances capable of inhibiting the adhesion of some bacteria, such as Escherichia coli, to the lining walls of the bladder. Over the years, several studies have focused on the properties of cranberry to prevent cystitis and tradition has always indicated cranberry as a valid remedy against urinary tract infections. However, in 2012 a review based on 24 studies failed to provide a conclusive result about the effectiveness of the remedy. This is where the study we are talking about today comes into play. This research is one of the largest as it analyzes 50 studies, including 26 very recent studies, for a total of almost 9,000 people involved.

Cranberry prevents cystitis

Study compares and analyzes data from 50 previous studies. What is clear is that cranberry in all its forms, both juice and extract capsules, is a valid remedy for preventing cystitis and recurrent urinary tract infections. In particular, cranberry intake in women reduces the risk of recurring urinary infections by 25%, in children by more than 50% and in people with bladder problems following trauma or surgery by as much as 53%. The preventive action of the cranberry is found to be greater than probiotics and very similar to that of antibiotics, although this aspect is yet to be investigated with certainty. Finally, the cranberry does not cause any side effects.

Conclusions

Cranberry juice or cranberry extract capsules are a valid remedy to prevent cystitis and recurrent urinary tract infections. Cranberry juice is commonly found in supermarkets and grocery stores while the extract is available in chemist's and herbalist's shops. In specialized shops it is also possible to find frozen cranberries. The only note to add is that the cranberry should be taken, as always, without excesses also because science has not yet clarified whether the cranberry, especially if in the form of juice taken in large quantities and for long periods of time, can increase the risk of formation of urinary tract stones. No studies have, to date, demonstrated this association, only an increase in oxalates in the urine, which could potentially increase the risk of stone formation. On the other hand, however, other studies have reported a protective effect and a reduction in oxalates following the intake of the juice. We need to wait for science to take its course and in the meantime avoid excesses.

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