Myth busting: Does cranberry juice actually help with UTIs?

Will a glass of cranberry juice really be the solution to your pain?

Roseanna Leconte
15th February 2023
Image credit: pixabay

Many of us will know the painful experience of urgently needing to pee, making a dash for the toilet, only for a few burning drops to come out. Here we go again, you have a UTI.

A Urinary Tract Infection happens when bacteria enter the urinary tract via the urethra, and it is more likely to happen to women. I remember finding myself with a UTI for the first time, clueless as to why I was in so much pain. My flatmate at the time very kindly bought me a carton of cranberry juice, as she told me this helps. This is a common piece of advice given for UTIs, but the million-dollar question is: does cranberry juice actually help?

Well, according to the NHS, there is no evidence that cranberry juice does anything to ease the symptoms of a UTI. However, this doesn’t mean it’s a total myth. Many studies show that the heroism of cranberry juice, or cranberry supplements, lies in its preventative qualities. Cranberries contain compounds called polyphenols which can help to reduce the chances of getting a UTI. One of the main ways they help is by reducing the bacteria’s ability to ‘stick’ to the lining of the urinary tract. Cranberries are also a rich source of Vitamin C, which is good for the immune system. Scientific studies about the effects of cranberry juice in preventing UTIs have overall positive results, with many women testifying that they suffered from the infection less often. 

All in all, next time you find yourself needing a painful wee every 10 minutes, it’s probably too late to reach for that glass of cranberry juice…

So, it seems that although cranberry juice may not help to treat a UTI, it does have other benefits that can help to prevent one. And I’m sure we’ve all been told to pee after sex as another preventative measure. If you have a UTI, a trip to the doctor isn’t always necessary, unless it’s your first time, or if it’s particularly persistent, in which case a short round of antibiotics usually does the trick. Otherwise, make sure to drink plenty of water to flush the bacteria out, avoid sex, and you can take paracetamol for the pain. All in all, next time you find yourself needing a painful wee every 10 minutes, it’s probably too late to reach for that glass of cranberry juice…

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