One of the most widely believed “natural” folk remedies is that cranberry juice can treat and cure a urinary tract infection. Cranberry juice was once believed to make urine acidic enough to kill the bacteria that caused urinary tract infections. However, scientists have not found enough evidence to support promoting cranberry juice as a cure for UTIs.

The Truth Behind Cranberry Juice

Cranberries have been used for medicinal purposes in North America for centuries. Native Americans used cranberries to treat bladder and kidney diseases, while the first English settlers used them to promote appetite, fight scurvy and vitamin c deficiencies, and protect from stomach problems and blood disorders.

Research is mixed when it comes to cranberry juice and its benefits on the urinary tract. Some studies show there is an active ingredient in cranberries that may prevent the bacteria E. coli from sticking to the urinary tract walls. This prevents the bacteria from spreading and causing an infection.

On the other hand, not enough evidence was found to definitively support this. The benefits of cranberries don’t work for everyone, and for some the tart acidity can be difficult to swallow. Cranberry juice can also cause kidney stones in people who already get them frequently, and it can cause a negative reaction to certain medications.

Maria Orellana, MD

Maria Orellana, MD

Doctor of Family Medicine

How to Actually Treat a UTI

There is no replacing a visit to your physician when you are experiencing a problem. Your physician can prescribe necessary medication and treatments that are proven to treat your UTI. While drinking cranberry juice won’t hurt, it is unlikely to help the same way as antibiotics in the event of an infection.

Not seeing your physician also increases your risk of the infection spreading further into the kidney or prostate. This can cause the infection to then spread into your blood stream and cause sepsis, a serious medical condition that can shut down your organs.

If you are experiencing symptoms of a UTI, call your provider right away. Most UTIs can be treated quickly and effectively with medication. The longer you wait, the more at risk you are of developing serious, even life-threatening consequences.

The primary care team at Sisters Health Center D’Youville can help. Call (716) 862-2572 for an appointment today!