There’s not a lot that’s worse than a urinary tract infection (UTI). It’s uncomfortable, annoying–and, even though most women know exactly what it is when it hits, still usually requires a visit to the doctor and some pee in a cup. Which is why so many women turn to one well-known remedy at the first sign: Cranberry juice. Unfortunately, according to a new study, cranberry juice may not actually work for a UTI–and it definitely doesn’t work if the infection moves to the bladder and kidneys.
The study, which followed almost 4,500 women, found that cranberry juice offered little to no benefit for bladder and kidney infections, and very, very little benefit in the case of a UTI. Women would have to drink two glasses of cranberry juice a day, researchers said, to see any preventative or protective results.
Bladder and kidney infections are most often caused by a UTI that is left untreated.
This research contradicts previous studies, which have found cranberry juice to be effective at preventing or treating bladder and kidney infections, as well as UTIs, for both women and children. It also runs against conventional wisdom and the advice of doctors, who often recommend pure cranberry juice (read: not sugary, low-in-nutrients cranberry “cocktails” that are usually sold in grocery stores) for this purpose. However, say the doctors of this study, these studies are unreliable.
“We can’t see a particular need for more studies of the effect of cranberry juice, as the majority of existing studies indicate that the benefit is small at best, and the studies have high drop-out rates,” lead researcher Dr. Ruth Jepson told the BBC.
So should you ditch your regimen of red juice at the first sign of a UTI? Maybe not. There does appear to be a small benefit from high-quality cranberry juice, even if it is small. And staying hydrated is key to healthy kidney and bladder function, so if a little juice gets you drinking enough fluids, it’s for the best. Just make sure you also head to the doctor for the infection doesn’t move.
Image by Flickr user TheDeliciousLife