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Putting Out the Fire – Cranberry and UTIs

utiHave you tried antibiotics to treat urinary tract infections?

Maybe the antibiotics  temporarily masked the symptoms or perhaps they opened the door to recurrent infections that progressively got worse over time.

Cranberry supplements (derived from the fruit) are well known for traditional use in herbal medicine in reducing the incidence of urinary tract infections (UTIs).

They do this by providing rapid relief of symptoms such as urinary irritation, discomfort and frequency of urination.

Additional properties of cranberry are its antioxidant effect which assists in protecting the body from the damaging effects of free radicals.

Cranberry also provides a useful source of vitamin C for an extra immunity boost.

When buying a cranberry product look for a high proanthocyanidin (PAC) content which allows for effective treatment of UTIs.


Proanthocyanidins (PAC)

The unique anti-adhesion activity of cranberry is primarily due to a natural compound in the fruit called proanthocyanidins (PACs). PACs are one of the most potent antioxidants in nature.

PACs found in the Nutrition Care Cranberry for example are a rich source of a rare type-A proanthocyanidin. Having a high proanthocyanidin content allows for both effective and therapeutic treatment of UTIs.


Active Constituents of Cranberry

For a little fruit, the active constituents of cranberry are considerable.

Cranberry contains flavonoids (anthocyanins, flavonols, ellagitannins, flavonol glycosides, gallotannins, and proanthocyanidins), substituted cinnamic acids, coumaroyl iridoid glycosides, stilbenes, triterpenoids (ursolic acid and its esters), alpha-linolenic acid, n-6 fatty acids and n-3 fatty acids.


Screen Shot 2017-02-08 at 2.56.53 PMUrinary Tract Infections (UTIs)

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are among the most common of all bacterial infections.

Women have a 1-in-3 chance of developing a urinary tract infection in their lifetime.

This is about 50 times more than for men and is because the urethra is structurally far shorter in females allowing for easier transmission of bacteria.

Anyone of any age can have a UTI. However, young to middle-aged women who are sexually active are most often affected by UTIs.

Depending on where the infection is located in the urinary tract, UTIs have different names with varying signs and symptoms.


UTIs in the kidneys are known as acute pyelonephritis. Signs and symptoms are upper back and side pain, high fever, shaking, chills, nausea and vomiting.


UTIs in the urethra are known as urethritis. Signs and symptoms of urethritis are burning with urination and discharge.


UTIs in the bladder are known as cystitis. Signs and symptoms of cystitis are pressure in the pelvic region, lower abdomen discomfort, frequent painful urination and blood in urine.


The organisms that are most commonly involved in UTIs are:

  • Gram negative Escherichia coli in 49% of cases
  • Gram positive Staphylococcus aureus  in 5-10% of cases
  • Gram negative Klebsiella pneumoniae or Proteus mirabilis in 9% cases

The main routes for spread of bacterial infection is via the ascending pathway of the urinary tract.

The uropathogens noted above come from the fecal flora invading the vagina effectively displacing the normal urogenital flora. The uro-pathogens then enter the bladder via the urethra and further multiply as they pass up the ureters to the kidneys.

Urine pH is usually between 4.5 – 8, the average is 6. A lower acidic pH has been shown to inhibit the growth of bacteria but too high a pH impedes the bodies immune response to a UTI.


Screen Shot 2017-02-08 at 2.59.36 PMHow Cranberry Works on UTIs

Cranberry with a high PAC content prevents adhesion of bacteria in the urinary tract.

Studies have shown that 120mg of type A-PAC for only 5 days exceeds the efficacy of antibiotics and provides good clinical outcomes for treating acute UTIs.

The anti adhesive effects on bacteria that protect the uroepithelium from pathogenic bacteria implicated in this are PAC concentration dependant.


Dosage (Nutrition Care Cranberry 2:1)

  • Liquid Cranberry take 5-15mL/daily or 35-105mL/weekly
  • Every 15ml contains 450mg of PAC – Type A Proanthocyanidin
  • In acute/ active UTIs take up to 15ml daily for 5-7 days
  • To prevent recurrent UTIs take 5-10 mls per day for up to 8 weeks



  • Allergies to any natural product can occur with sensitive individuals.
  • Caution should be taken in individuals suffering nephrolithiasis (kidney stones) as oxalates in Cranberry potentiate the risk of calcium oxalate stone formation.
  • For those individuals taking warfarin as several of cranberry components may inhibit the activity of CYP2C9 thereby potentiating warfarin effects.
  • Do not exceed the recommended dose as this may cause gastrointestinal discomfort.


Herb/ Drug Interactions

  • Take separately from iron, zinc, calcium and magnesium supplements as oxalates and polyphenols may reduce their gastric absorption and/or metabolism.



  • Cranberry can be safely used in pregnancy and lactation.


Children and the Elderly

Liquid Cranberry is suitable for kids and the elderly who have difficulty swallowing capsules


Further Reading:

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