Medscape takes a negative view for prevention and treatment of infection.
Dr. Lie from the University of California at Irvine tells us the following.
Evidence for cranberry juice to prevent bacteruria and pyuria (signs of infection) in the elderly is equivocal, based on a 2008 Cochrane review.
No evidence for treating urinary tract infections (UTIs), based on a 1998 Cochrane review.
Cranberry juice cocktail in children with neuropathic bladders shows no benefit.
And then, there are the side effects.
Case reports of warfarin drug interactions and increased bleeding risk.
Increased risk for calcium oxalate renal stones and hypersensitivity.
The caloric content of cranberry juice if consumed daily in large amounts.
Gastrointestinal distress, including diarrhea.
Risks in patients with a history of kidney stones, although it has been observed that cranberry products may have a role in the prevention of kidney stones.
The bottom line?
The distinction between treatment and prevention is important.
I was attracted to the Cochrane Review in 2008, which rather than “equivocal,” concluded “There is some evidence that cranberry juice may decrease the number of symptomatic UTIs over a 12 month period, particularly for women with recurrent UTIs.”
Importantly, there is no evidence for cranberry as a substitute for antibiotics to treat UTI, as Dr. Lee points out.
All of this is probably mute, since I defy anyone to drink the recommended amount of cranberry juice day after day — 90 to 480 mL of cranberry cocktail twice daily or 15 to 30 mL of unsweetened 100% cranberry juice daily.
John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.