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In test tube studies, cranberry prevents E. coli, the most common bacterial cause of UTIs, from adhering to the cells lining the wall of the bladder. This anti-adherence action is thought to reduce the ability of the bacteria to cause a UTI.11, 12 The proanthocyanidins in the berry have exhibited this anti-adherence action.13 Cranberry has been shown to reduce bacteria levels in the urinary bladders of older women significantly better than placebo, an action that may help to prevent UTIs.14 A small double-blind trial with younger women ages 18–45 years with a history of recurrent urinary tract infections, found that daily treatment with an encapsulated cranberry concentrate (400 mg twice per day) for three months significantly reduced the recurrence of urinary tract infections compared to women taking a placebo.15 Other preliminary trials in humans suggest cranberry may help people with urostomies and enterocystoplasties to keep their urine clear of mucus buildup and possibly reduce the risk of UTIs.16 However, one trial found that cranberry did not reduce the risk of UTIs in children with neurogenic bladder disease (a condition that does not allow for proper flow of urine from the bladder) who were receiving daily catheterization.17
One capsule of concentrated cranberry juice extract (400 mg) can be taken two times per day.18 Several 16-ounce (500 ml) glasses of high-quality unsweetened cranberry juice from concentrate each day approximate the effect of the cranberry extract. Cranberry tincture, 1/2–1 teaspoon (3–5 ml) three times per day, can also be taken.
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The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2016.