One of the first well intentioned pieces of advice that is passed on to women who develop UTIs is that cranberry juice helps cystitis.
According to a study published in the January 2011 issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases, this is unfortunately not the case. It is simply a response to the desperate need for an alternative to increasingly defunct allopathic approaches. Gradually people are beginning to understand the necessity of using antibiotics sparingly; they realise the impact on overall health of indiscriminately killing off bacteria and Doctors and patients are choosing to avoid the magic bullet approach to health.
"The researchers studied 319 otherwise healthy college women, with a mean age of 21 years, who were diagnosed with acute UTI at the Michigan Health Service laboratory between August 2005 and October 2007. They observed the participants for 6 months or until a second infection occurred and assumed that 30% of the women would experience another UTI during the observation period.
The subjects were randomly assigned to drink 8 ounces of 27% low-calorie cranberry juice cocktail (n = 155) or the same amount of a placebo juice (n = 164) at 2 times a day throughout the 6-month follow-up. Self-collected vaginal and rectal specimens and a clean-catch midstream urine specimen were presented by the women at baseline and at 3 months and 6 months. These were cultured to determine the presence of uropathogens". Medscape Medical News
The interesting finding was that cranberry juice drinkers had a greater recurrence of cystitis and UTIs:
So why does the idea that cranberry juice is useful against Cystitis and UTIs still persist? Is it to do with old studies or perpetuated wisdom that we find hard to let go of. We find the most compelling evidence is to do with acidity of the urine. Cranberry juice contains ascorbic acid, which actually acidifies the urine. Most people now share the view that there is a link between acidic urine and exponential growth of gram negative bacteria.
The cycle: E.Coli and Klebsiella (and some other gram negative uropathogens) have 'burst cycle' population explosions that occur under optimum feeding conditions. You drink cranberry or something else that makes the urine acidic - or get dehydrated and there is a build-up uric acid in the bladder. When the acidic urine enters your bladder, there is a burst of proliferation of the E.Coli, doubling their colony size over the next 20 to 30 minutes. They use up the acids in your urine in the process, and pass alkalis and endotoxins into the urine. As the urine becomes more alkaline, and the bacteria are effectively living in their own waste, they gradually become semi-dormant, slowing down their multiplication rates by as much as 100%. You ingest more Cranberry Juice or cranberry tablets, and start the process off again. It's not that they can't metabolise alkalis, but they don't seem to be so efficient at it.
In conclusion, the controversy continues, with the ESFA looking to Ocean Spray to modify its claims with regard to Cranberry Juice and Cystitis and with some professionals (decreasingly) still recommending Cranberry.
Many people who search for home remedies for their cystitis and UTI problems seem to think that cranberry pills or cranberry juice are good against UTIs. But we at Sweet Cures discovered years ago that, if anything, cranberry pills make UTI problems worse, and cranberry juice completely antagonises the problem.
There are some very good reasons for this: the most common bacteria that cause UTIs are E.Coli and Klebsiella, accounting for up to 95% of all UTIs. These bacteria are very acid resistant to the point where they thrive in acidic conditions. They can metabolise both Uric acid, which enters the urine as a result of breakdown of (mainly) meat proteins, and its close relative Hippuric acid that enters the urine as a result of consuming cranberry juice or cranberry pills.
Looking at this from a common-sense point of view, why would anyone feed the bacteria that were causing their problem? Think of the bacteria that attack the bladder and urinary tract as violent hooligans who are smashing up the street causing a lot of pain and suffering... Who’d feed them, and who’d give them a comfortable environment to replicate in? A better thing to do would be handcuff them and flush them down the loo. That’s what D-Mannose does with bacteria.
We are often asked whether cranberry juice is helpful. One of our satisfied and well informed customers forwarded this unsolicited letter to us. She had originally sent it to a UK magazine:
You probably recall my concerns raised about the lack of any scientific evidence supporting the health claim made by Ocean Spray with regard to cranberry juice. Well on Monday 24th January 2011, the Radio 4 consumer affairs programme You and Yours highlighted this. European scientists have spent the last 4 years investigating the health claims made by many manufacturers on their packaging as a result of the European Nutrition and Health Claim Regulation introduced in 2007. 80% of the assessed health claims have been rejected or disproved by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). This includes health claims made by Ocean Spray.
Following the application made by Ocean Spray related to their cranberry products, the EFSA Panel concluded in 2009: "the evidence provided is not sufficient to establish a cause and effect relationship between the consumption of Ocean Spray cranberry product and the reduction of the risk of UTI in women by inhibiting the adhesion of certain bacteria in the urinary tract." My understanding from this suggests that the clinical trial was not conducted in the correct manner.
I have noticed that cranberry juice is mentioned on your SIA website (under Factsheet-Bladder Management); I strongly urge you to convey the above information to your trustees.
E.Coli Metabolises Cranberry - Extract below
"In fact, giving cranberry juice to women with confirmed bacteriuria, considerably increases the chances of the infection recurring, with increasing severity." View E.Coli Metabolises Cranberry Article here
Scientific Document: Ocean Spray cranberry Products® and urinary tract infection in women - Scientific substantiation of a health claim related to Ocean Spray cranberry Products® and urinary tract infection in women pursuant to Article 14 of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 
Scientific Document: Scientific Opinion on the substantiation of a health claim related to a Uroval® and urinary tract infection pursuant to Article 14 of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006.
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