I have had a number of patients over the past few years rush into my office, looking terribly uncomfortable and telling me they think they have a bladder infection. Then they open up their handbag (it is almost always universally women) and had me a jam or Marmite jar full of a very murky kind of liquid.
Patients are pretty good at self diagnosing this one, especially if they have had a bladder infection before. The symptoms are pretty uncomfortable .. frequently needing to urinate and a burning or stinging sensation while passing urine.
Well, as I peer into the jar at the murky contents it is blatantly obvious this is a nasty case of a bladder infection… so here is your prescription for antibiotics.
But what about those patients who have one bladder infection after another and are just sick of antibiotics and then further bladder infections (not to mention inadvertent cases of thrush).
And why are these little beauties so great for preventing bladder infections???
Cranberries have long been used to treat urine infections. It was thought up until the 1980s that the cranberries changed the acidity of the urine and made the environment too inhospitable for those pesky bacteria to invade the urethra and bladder. However we have since discovered that cranberries contain a substance called A-type proanthocyanidins or PACs. This substance is able to inhibit E.coli – the common culprit for causing bladder infections – from sticking to the urethra and bladder walls. This makes it harder for the bacteria to gain entry to the body and therefore less able to cause a bladder infection.
A recent meta-analysis (a study which pools the results of all relevant studies) published in Archives of Internal Medicine has improved our understanding of these benefits of cranberry for bladder infections.
- Cranberry juice is more effective than cranberry capsules
- More than 2 doses per day is more effective than fewer daily doses.
- The PAC content varied between supplements from 0.8mg to 224mg per day – so check the PAC content rather than the cranberry content as this is the active component of the product.
- cranberries for prevention of bladder infections is most effective in
- those with recurrent bladder infections & children