The red berries of the cranberry shrub are common in foods such as juice and muffins. Traditionally, cranberries have been used for urinary conditions and other ailments.
Why do people take cranberry?
A number of studies, many sponsored by juice manufacturer Ocean Spray, show that cranberry juice helps prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs) in people who repeatedly have them. Some studies of cranberry supplements have had similar results. Cranberries might stop bacteria from sticking to the sides of the urinary tract.
Studies have not shown that cranberries are effective treatments for UTIs once you have an infection.
Cranberries could help in other ways. They seem to help prevent H. pylori infections in the stomach that lead to ulcers. They also might slow the buildup of dental plaque.
Cranberry is an antioxidant, a substance that could protect cells from damage. Some lab studies show that cranberries might have an anticancer effects on cells. It isn't known if it might help people with cancer.
How much cranberry should you take?
There is no standard dose of cranberry. Some studies have used between 10-16 ounces of cranberry juice cocktail daily to prevent UTIs. Other studies have used between 800-1,600 milligrams daily of cranberry supplement capsules.
Can you get cranberry naturally from foods?
Cranberries are a common food. They're sold fresh, frozen, and dried. They're also in products like juice, jelly, sauce, baked goods, and tea.
What are the risks of taking cranberry?
- Side effects. Cranberries, cranberry juice, and cranberry extracts are safe. Excessive amounts could cause upset stomach or diarrhea. Pregnant women might suffer these side effects at lower doses.
- Risks. If you think you have a urinary tract infection, don't rely on cranberries. There's no good evidence that it will help. Instead, see a doctor. If you have health conditions like aspirin allergy or kidney stones, check with a doctor before using cranberry for a health condition. Sweetened cranberry drinks can be high in calories and high-fructose corn syrup, and thus may be inadvisable for people with diabetes or weight problems.
- Interactions. If you take any drugs regularly, talk to your doctor before you start using cranberry supplements. They could interact with medicines like blood thinners, some antibiotics, aspirin, statins, antacids, proton pump inhibitors, and drugs that affect the liver.
While cranberry juice is generally safe, children or women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not take cranberry for medical purposes unless a doctor recommends it.