Dec 30, 2018
This is episode 58, a bit of a mash-up episode that I am titling “Cranberry Sauce” In today’s episode, I will be talking about urinary tract infections (aka UTIs) and how we treat them. And we will be look into the life of Marcus Libby Urann, lawyer and cranberry magnate, founder of Ocean Spray, who first brought canned cranberry sauce to the market in 1912.
This episode came about because I have been thinking about the jellied cranberry sauce that is found on many Thanksgiving and Christmas tables, and was a staple at my grandmothers where I remember it taking center stage, still in the shape of the can.
Cranberries get talked about a lot in the urology clinic. Many patients are searching for a natural treatment for urinary tract infections and dried fruits, juice, or extracts of the American cranberry (Vaccinium Macrocarpon) are increasingly popular in patients with recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs). Patients adopted the folk remedy from the American Indians many years ago, and its presumed benefit has been studied in the laboratory since the 1950s.
Cranberries are a healthy food. Besides being high in vitamin C, manganese and fiber, cranberries are rich in phyto-nutrients (naturally derived plant compounds), particularly proanthocyanidin antioxidants.
Proanthocyanidins (PACs) are bioactive compounds that are linked to a long list of health benefits including reducing the incidence of certain infections, promoting heart health, protecting the urinary tract, decreasing inflammation association with chronic disease and aging, and supporting digestive health.
Laboratory research suggests the interference of adhesion of bacteria to the bladder lining by proanthocyanidins is the way cranberry products prevent infections.
The clinical evidence, however, to support the use of cranberry for UTI prevention or treatment is a mixed bag. After some landmark clinical trials had shown cranberry juice or extracts to be effective for prophylaxis of UTI, subsequent trials with negative outcomes render the current evidence debatable.
I have patients who swear by cranberry supplements, and other patients who say it has no effect.
When recommending or thinking about cranberry supplementation, it is important to consider sugar content, (esp. for diabetic patients because cranberry juice is highly sweetened), the amount of proanthocyanidin and cranberry concentrate in each product, the potential for adherence-or lack thereof-to chosen formulations, the required dosing and frequency, and the type of patient you are.
If you are having problems with frequent or recurrent urinary tract infections talk with your urologist.