Cranberry is most commonly used for the prevention and treatment of urinary tract infections (UTIs).
Cranberry is also used for kidney stones, enlarged prostate, common cold, and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses.
In foods, cranberry fruit is used in cranberry juice, cranberry juice cocktail, jelly, and sauce.
How does it work ?
Cranberry, as well as many other fruits and vegetables, contains significant amounts of salicylic acid, which is an important ingredient in aspirin. Drinking cranberry juice regularly increases the amount of salicylic acid in the body. Salicylic acid can reduce swelling, prevent blood clots, and can have antitumor effects.
Uses & Effectiveness
Possibly Effective for
- Infections of the kidney, bladder, or urethra (urinary tract infections or UTIs). Some research shows that taking certain cranberry capsules or tablets can help prevent UTIs in people who have had UTIs in the past. However, research is unclear whether drinking cranberry juice helps prevent repeat UTIs. Taking certain cranberry products or drinking cranberry juice might prevent UTIs in older people living in nursing homes, in pregnant women, and in children who have had UTIs in the past. But cranberry does not appear to help prevent UTIs in other people who have conditions that make them a high risk for UTIs. This includes people undergoing surgery near the bladder or urinary tract, as well as people with a bladder condition (neurogenic bladder) caused by an injury to the spinal cord.
While cranberry may help prevent UTIs for some people, it should not be used for treating UTIs.
Possibly Ineffective for
- Diabetes. Research shows that taking cranberry supplements by mouth does not lower blood sugar in people with diabetes.
Insufficient Evidence for
- Enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH). Early research shows that taking dried cranberry daily for 6 months might improve urinary symptoms and reduce levels of certain biomarkers associated with BPH.
- Heart disease. Some research shows that drinking cranberry juice or taking cranberry capsules might slightly improve some risk factors for heart disease, such as blood pressure and body mass index (BMI). But cranberry does not seem to improve other risk factors like cholesterol levels, blood sugar levels, or waist size.
- Common cold. Research shows that drinking cranberry juice daily for 70 days does not reduce the risk of cold or flu, but might reduce cold and flu symptoms.
- A digestive tract infection that can lead to ulcers (Helicobacter pylori or H. pylori). There is inconsistent evidence regarding the ability of cranberry juice to eliminate bacteria (H. pylori) in the stomach. Some research shows that drinking cranberry juice daily for up to 90 days can help eliminate H. pylori in adults and children. But other early research shows that drinking cranberry juice along with taking conventional medication used to treat H. pylori infections is not better than taking the medication alone.
- Flu (influenza). Research shows that drinking cranberry juice daily for 70 days does not reduce the risk of cold or flu, but might reduce cold and flu symptoms.
- Kidney stones. There is inconsistent evidence on the use of cranberry to lower the risk of kidney stones. Some early evidence shows that drinking cranberry juice might lower the risk of kidney stones forming. However, other early evidence shows that drinking cranberry juice or taking cranberry extracts might actually increase the risk of kidney stones.
- Memory. Early research shows that drinking cranberry juice twice daily for 6 weeks does not improve memory in older people.
- A grouping of symptoms that increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke (metabolic syndrome). Early research shows that drinking cranberry juice twice daily for 8 weeks can benefit some antioxidant measurements in the blood, but it does not appear to affect blood pressure, blood sugar, or cholesterol levels in people with metabolic syndrome.
- Build up of fat in the liver in people who drink little or no alcohol (nonalcoholic fatty liver disease or NAFLD). Early research shows that taking cranberry extract tablets might help improve some blood levels, but not others, in people with NAFLD.
- Overactive bladder. Early research shows that taking dried cranberry powder capsules daily for 24 weeks can reduce the number of times women with overactive bladder urinate. It can also reduce the number of sudden urges to urinate each day.
- Urinary odor. Early research shows that drinking cranberry juice might reduce the odor of urine in people with difficulty controlling urination.
- Irritation of the bladder caused by radiation therapy. Some early research shows that cranberry juice might reduce the risk for this type of irritation in men who are receiving radiation therapy for prostate cancer. But not all research agrees. Also, some research shows that it is not helpful in people who are receiving radiation therapy for bladder cancer or cancer of the cervix.
- Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).
- Wound healing.
- Other conditions.
Special Precautions and Warnings
Children: Cranberry juice is LIKELY SAFE for children when taken by mouth as a food or drink.
Aspirin allergy: Cranberries contain significant amounts of salicylic acid. Salicylic acid is similar to aspirin. Avoid drinking large quantities of cranberry juice if you are allergic to aspirin.
Inflammation of the stomach lining (Atrophic gastritis): Cranberry juice might increase how much vitamin B12 the body absorbs for people with atrophic gastritis.
Diabetes: Some cranberry juice products are sweetened with extra sugar. If you have diabetes, stick with cranberry products that are sweetened with artificial sweeteners.
Low stomach acid (hypochlorhydria). Cranberry juice might increase how much vitamin B12 the body absorbs for people with low levels of stomach acid.
Kidney stones: Cranberry juice and cranberry extracts contain a large amount of a chemical called oxalate. In fact, there is some evidence that some cranberry extract tablets can boost the level of oxalate in the urine by as much as 43%. Since kidney stones are made primarily from oxalate combined with calcium, healthcare providers worry that cranberry might increase the risk of kidney stones. To be on the safe side, avoid taking cranberry extract products or drinking a lot of cranberry juice if you have a history of kidney stones.
Warfarin (Coumadin) interacts with CRANBERRY
Warfarin (Coumadin) is used to slow blood clotting. Cranberry might increase how long warfarin (Coumadin) is in the body, and increase the chances of bruising and bleeding. Be sure to have your blood checked regularly. The dose of your warfarin (Coumadin) might need to be changed.
Be cautious with this combination
Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 2C9 (CYP2C9) substrates) interacts with CRANBERRY
Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver.
Cranberry might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking cranberry along with some medications that are broken down by the liver can increase the effects and side effects of some medications. Before taking cranberry, talk to your healthcare provider if you take any medications that are changed by the liver.
Some medications that are changed by the liver include amitriptyline (Elavil), diazepam (Valium), zileuton (Zyflo), celecoxib (Celebrex), diclofenac (Voltaren), fluvastatin (Lescol), glipizide (Glucotrol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), irbesartan (Avapro), losartan (Cozaar), phenytoin (Dilantin), piroxicam (Feldene), tamoxifen (Nolvadex), tolbutamide (Tolinase), torsemide (Demadex), warfarin (Coumadin), and others.
Be watchful with this combination
- For preventing infections of the kidney, bladder, or urethra (urinary tract infections or UTIs): Capsules or tablets containing 120-800 mg of dried cranberry taken once or twice daily have been used. Drinking cranberry juice 120-300 mL 1-3 times daily has also been used.
- For preventing infections of the kidney, bladder, or urethra (urinary tract infections or UTIs): 50 mL of a cranberry and lingonberry concentrate taken daily for 6 months has been used. Also, 5 mL/kg of cranberry juice taken daily for 6 months has been used. A standardized cranberry extract (Anthocran) 120 mg taken daily for 60 days has been used in children 12-18 years of age.
CONDITIONS OF USE AND IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor or health care professional before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your health care plan or treatment and to determine what course of therapy is right for you.
This copyrighted material is provided by Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Consumer Version. Information from this source is evidence-based and objective, and without commercial influence. For professional medical information on natural medicines, see Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Professional Version. © Therapeutic Research Faculty 2018.