I guess it's time to lay this folk remedy to rest.
For a long time, there has been a persisting belief that urinary tract infections (UTI) can be treated at least somewhat by using cranberry products.
However, a new study published online in the Journal of the American Medical Association tested the theory and it turns out that cranberries (in all of the many forms they can take) are not actually effective in treating or alleviating common bacterial infections.
Nearly 9 million doctor visits per year are attributed to urinary infections, according to Cosmopolitan, and symptoms of the uncomfortable infection include fatigue, itchiness, painful urination, and more. In short: having a UTI is no fun, and if you're unlucky enough to get one, you want it gone, and fast.
Researchers studied 147 women in nursing homes who randomly took either two cranberry capsules, or two placebo capsules per day. After a year of follow-up, however, it was revealed that the women who took the active product actually had the same rate of bacteriuria with pyuria as those who were on the dummy pills. That means the cranberries were not any more effective in treating the infections than a bunch of fake pills were.
According to Lindsay Nicolle, MD, of the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, the study just goes to show that "it is time to move on from cranberries."
She wrote in an additional editorial: "[C]linicians should not be promoting cranberry use by suggesting that there is proven, or even possible, benefit," and went on to argue that those who do so, "are doing their patients a disservice."
So, what should you do if you suspect that you might have a urinary infection?
First of all, go and see a doctor for diagnosis and treatment before anything else. You're free to chug as much cranberry juice as you want, but you probably shouldn't be drinking it in place of actual, proven treatments, and a professional's recommendation.
Hopefully, additional research will come out soon with a more thorough and prescriptive recommendation for how to treat those pesky (and often infuriating) urinary infections, but until then, just remember: cranberry juice can be enjoyed as a treat (or, if you're like us, as a great mixer for vodka), but shouldn't be used as a cure-all for problems in your body!