CRANBERRIES - TREATMENT FOR URINARY TRACT INFECTIONS
WHAT ARE URINARY TRACT INFECTIONS?
For those of you, like me, who have suffered for years with Urinary Tract Infections, the symptoms of which are frequency, urgency, burning and pain when passing your urine, OUCH., it is intolerable and certainly can make our lives a living hell and leave us feeling very miserable indeed. However, women do seem to be at risk more than the men. This is most certainly due to the fact that our urethra's(the tube that transports our urine from our bladders) is actually shorter and anatomically closer to our anus than the males are
Urinary Tract Infections - These are generally caused by bacteria from our gastro-intestinal tracts. In fact, 90% of all Urinary Tract Infections are caused by bacteria called, Escherichia Coli (E.Coli), which is found in the colon and rectal region. The most common treatment for this terrible complaint has up till now been antibiotics. However, I found as most people these days do, that antibiotics are expensive and do come with the dreadful side-effects. These can include such things as gastro-intestinal problems and nausea and vomiting. In fact, it has been found that using these antibiotics on a frequent basis, can cause resistance, which leaves patients, usually in the long term very vulnerable to bacteria. Therefore, with the ever increasing problem of people overusing antibiotics, me included, I must admit, and getting thrush now all the time, Medical Professionals have become more and more interested in finding and exploring some of the non-pharmacological alternatives to taking antibiotics.
This has been very important to me as I am one of those people who have almost had a diet of antibiotics due to one urinary tract infection after another. Then, after that I have to put up with the never ending onslaught of Thrush. I can't tell you how many times I have had to deal with thrush. In fact, I don't even think that it every really goes away, it doesn't seem to anyway.
WHAT ARE CRANBERRIES AND HOW DO THEY WORK
When I found the article in a "Health Journal" that I had been reading in my Urologist's Surgery, I started to wonder whether or not they work. In fact, I went even one further I bought some Cranberry Juice on the way home just to see if there was any truth in what I had just read. I was not disappointed at all. Straight away I started to feel different to the way I had felt beforeI had starting to drink the juice. The symptoms started to dissipate and soon I was saying to myself "where have the symptoms gone, the burning had lessened and the urgency also wasn't nearly as bad as I had remembered.
Cranberries - these are one of the three native fruits produced in America. The others are of course, grapes and blueberries. The cranberries are grown on long runny vines on ground that is boggy and they are harvested from mid-September to American Thanksgiving.
There is evidence that shows that Native American Indians not only ate the cranberries as a part of their staple diet, but they actually believed that these cranberries had Medicinal Properties. They thought that these berries could help problems with their stomachs, liver disorders and kidney problems. It is also documented in records that Seaman in 1800's, took cranberries in an effort to prevent them from contracting Scurvy ( A condition brought on by Vitamin C deficiency)
WHAT IS THE EVIDENCE?
I have read recently that studies that have been done into the effect of cranberries, were still very tentative. Back in 1923, a study was undertaken, which reported that there is an increase in the acidity of our urine, when we are eating cranberries. It said that as bacteria generally prefer to live in an Alkaline environment, it was thought the increased acidic content of our urine would inhibit the growth of the bacteria.
In fact, studies have shown that over the decades, there have been vast amounts of literature produced on the therapeutic effects of cranberries. However, the majority of this has been shown to be anecdotal. It wasn't until the 1980's, that the researchers decided to really look at this fruit a lot more closely, and explored alternative theories on how these cranberries actually are helping to prevent us from getting these Urinary Tract Infections.
The first study that was done to challenge the Urine Acidification Theory was carried out in 1984. Soboto, was responsible for the production of a study which looked at whether cranberries helped prevent the adhesion of bacteria to the uroepithelial cells (bladder walls),in the hope of preventing infection from happening. The outcome of his experiment showed that when the mice invested the cranberry juice, over a period of time, this inhibited the adherence of bacteria by up to eighty percent. In 1994, Soboto's theory was again confirmed, when a six month study was carried out at a long-term care facility upon 153 of its elderly women. Half of the women were given 300 mls of cranberry juice, while the other half had been given a placebo(substitute for the cranberry juice). At the conclusion of this study, it was found that 28 percent of the women who had the placebo, still were found to have bacteria present in their urine. In comparison, the women who had taken the cranberry juice were found to have only fifteen percent present in their urine
Another study was carried out in 2002, which not only looked at whether or not cranberries helped to prevent Urinary Tract Infections, but also at what costs would be implicated with treating these women.
RESULTS - The initial results showed that both the groups of women, the ones taking Cranberry Juice and the ones taking the Placebo, had a significant reduction in the number of Urinary Tract Infections over a period of twelve months. As well as this fact, the cost implications of treating a Urinary Tract Infection also had a significant reduction in both of these groups of women.
There is substantial evidence to support the theory that Cranberries have clinical properties in preventing Urinary Tract Infections. However, limitations and inconsistencies were found to be evident in all the studies carried out. For example, it was found that the amount of cranberry supplement or juice given to the participants in these studies, seemed to vary considerably in each of these studies. At the end of each of these studies, not one of the researchers could justify the amounts that are recommended.
Although the amount of cranberry juice or supplement needed to make any difference at all remains unclear, it is recommended that a daily glass of cranberry juice (200-300mls) or a cranberry capsule may be sufficient to help prevent the recurrence of a Urinary Tract Infection.
Cranberry Juice is an expensive commodity and it is difficult to justify recommendation by the Health Professionals without the evidence to back it up. I feel that if more concentration was placed on the effectiveness from not only a therapeutic but also a cost point of view, then maybe we would have a better idea of whether or not this is a viable commodity for all of us who suffer from this terrible affliction.
I think that there is enough evidence to support the use of cranberries as a preventative measure against Urinary Tract Infections, but not from a treatment point of view. I discussed this with my Doctor who said by reviewing all the information that we now have on this subject, we not only have the facts, but we have an informed choice when we are considering what to do for our problems of Urinary Tract Infections and how to avoid getting them.
We have learned from all of this is to watch out for these symptoms , because it could be a sign of a URINARY TRACT INFECTION:
- GOING TO TO TOILET MORE TIMES THAN IS USUAL FOR YOU
- BURNING AND SCALDING FEELING WHEN PASSING YOUR URINE
- PAIN WHEN PASSING YOUR URINE
PLEASE SEE YOUR DOCTOR IF YOUR EXPERIENCE ANY OR ALL OR THESE SYMPTOMS