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Cystitis - How Much Cranberry Juice?

May 20, 2018 Cystitis / UTI

Cystitis is a painful urinary tract infection which causes a burning sensation when going to the toilet.  Sufferers feel an urgent need to pee and feel generally unwell. Most cases go away after a few days without medical intervention.  

Many people believe cranberry juice helps to relieve symptoms but there is no scientific basis in that suggestion. Men and women suffer from the condition but it is more common in women because their urethra and anus are close together. 

It is a bacterial infection which responds well to antibiotics. You risk contracting a kidney infection if you don’t treat your symptoms.  Natural ways to treat cystitis include drinking plenty of liquids, taking over the counter painkillers, resting and using a hot water bottle.

Whether cranberry juice actually helps to treat cystitis is still up to debate but some sufferers believe it works.

We will look into the science of the infection and the properties of cranberry juice to see if there is any truth in the connection.  Drinking lots of cranberry juice increases your liquid intake which ultimately relieves symptoms in the end.

What is Cystitis?

Cystitis is inflammation of the bladder due to a bacterial infection. It causes sufferers to feel generally unwell, have a fever, painful urination, an urgency to pee and passing bloody or cloudy urine.  Causes include wiping from forward to back after going to the toilet, sexual intercourse, using a diaphragm or using tampons.

Antibiotics successfully treat cystitis and most women suffer it infrequently.  Some women are sadly more prone to it than others and repeatedly have it.

The following conditions increase your risk of having it; not emptying your bladder, pregnancy, cancer treatment, diabetes, menopause, using highly scented body wash and taking recreational drugs such as ketamine.

Intestinal cystitis has similar symptoms but is due to bladder damage and requires different treatment. (Source: NHS.UK)

Why Cranberry Juice?

The NHS is unable to see a connection between cranberry juice and cystitis relief except for the benefits of drinking the extra liquid.  

A study by the Cochrane Collaboration into the use of cranberry products and cystitis cures was unable to find a connection between the two.  If this is the case why do so many women swear by the tasty red juice?

Many internet searches and advice from older generations suggest cranberry juice cures the condition. Ironically research tells the opposite story. It actually increases your chances of having recurring cystitis and prevents the bladder from fighting infection.  

Scientists have found a link between the ascorbic acid in cranberry juice and the growth of gram-negative bacteria. What does this mean for sufferers who swear by cranberry juice? It seems sensible to swap water for cranberry juice and dilute the water in your bladder without exposing it to harmful ascorbic acid.  

By all means, drink cranberry juice to prevent yourself from developing cystitis but don’t expect it to cure the condition.

By Parv Sagoo (Jan 2018)

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