Cranberry - What is it & How to use

What is it?

  • Cranberry is a native evergreen shrub that grows throughout North America.
  • Historically, cranberry fruits or leaves were used for bladder, stomach, and liver disorders, as well as diabetes, wounds, and other conditions.
  • Today, cranberry is used as a dietary supplement primarily for urinary tract infections (UTIs).
  • The berries are used in beverages and food. They are also made into dietary supplements in the form of extracts, powder, capsules, and tablets.
  • There’s mixed evidence that cranberry can help to prevent UTIs.
    • In a 2016 year-long study of 147 women living in nursing homes, taking two daily cranberry capsules decreased bacteria levels in their urine in the first 6 months of the study, but didn’t decrease their frequency of UTIs over the year of the study, compared to taking a placebo. The two capsules together contained as much proanthocyanidin, a compound that is believed to protect against bacteria, as 20 ounces of cranberry juice.
    • A 2012 research review of 13 clinical trials suggested that cranberry may help reduce the risk of UTIs in certain groups, including women with recurrent UTIs, children, and people who use cranberry-containing products more than twice daily.
    • A 2012 research review of 24 clinical trials concluded that cranberry juice and supplements don’t prevent UTIs but many of the studies were poor quality.
  • Cranberry hasn’t been shown to be effective as a treatment for an existing UTI.
  • NCCIH-supported research is looking at the possible effects of cranberry on cancer-related anemia and tumor cells.

Safety Concerns

  • In a 2016 year-long study of 147 women living in nursing homes, taking two daily cranberry capsules decreased bacteria levels in their urine in the first 6 months of the study, but didn’t decrease their frequency of UTIs over the year of the study, compared to taking a placebo. The two capsules together contained as much proanthocyanidin, a compound that is believed to protect against bacteria, as 20 ounces of cranberry juice.
  • A 2012 research review of 13 clinical trials suggested that cranberry may help reduce the risk of UTIs in certain groups, including women with recurrent UTIs, children, and people who use cranberry-containing products more than twice daily.
  • A 2012 research review of 24 clinical trials concluded that cranberry juice and supplements don’t prevent UTIs but many of the studies were poor quality.

* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.