Whether you call it cystitis, a bladder infection or urinary tract infection (UTI), it's painful to urinate. And if you suffer from recurring UTIs – that's three or more episodes a year – you have three times the pain, or more.
You can opt to take antibiotics on a regular basis to try and prevent the next infection, or take antibiotics each time one develops. Either way, you're giving the bacteria responsible for your suffering a chance to get stronger each time they do battle with another round of the drugs.
Or you can drink cranberry juice.
The effectiveness of this home remedy for UTI has received growing support as more and more research puts it to the test. The latest study published in the September 2012 issue of the Journal of Infection and Chemotherapy looked at whether cranberry juice can prevent UTIs in people who have a high recurrence rate.
The study was conducted on an out-patient population in 40 urology clinics in Japan. The study design was a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blinded trial - the gold standard for clinical research. It included 213 Japanese women between the ages of 20 and 79 years with a history of chronic cystitis. The participants were randomly divided into two groups, with one group receiving cranberry juice and the other a similar looking and tasting drink that served as a placebo.
The women drank one bottle (125 mL or approximately 4 ounces) of their assigned beverage every day before going to sleep for 24 weeks. They visited the clinics every four weeks to be interviewed about their symptoms. If they had a relapse of UTI at any point in the 24 weeks they were treated with medication and removed from the study.
The researchers found a significant difference between the two groups in the rate of UTI reoccurrence among women aged 50 years and older. In that subgroup, only 29% of those drinking cranberry juice experienced a relapse of UTI while 49% did in the placebo group.
Although the results did not show a reduction in occurrence of UTI with cranberry juice for all subjects, the authors suggest that might have been due to the small number of subjects in each age group. But based on the scientifically significant reduction in relapse rates seen in the women age 50 and over, the authors did conclude that using cranberry juice as a home remedy for UTI provides a safe, effective treatment option for women over 50 at risk for recurring UTIs.
And now, just in time for the biggest cranberry eating day of the year, the Cranberry Institute has announced that all forms of cranberries provide similar health benefits. So if you plan to use cranberries to control UTIs, the following items are considered equivalent to an 8 ounce serving of a cranberry juice cocktail with 27% juice (sugar-sweetened or diet):
- ¼ cup fresh cranberries
- 1/3 cup sweetened dried cranberries
- ¼ cup cranberry sauce
- 2 ounce 100% cranberry juice
And for more on Urinary Tract Infections (UTI):