I have heard that drinking a glass of cranberry juice a day can eliminate and prevent kidney stones. Is there any truth to that? And why? Also… I was looking at the bottle in the fridge, and it said ‘CALCIUM’ in big letters. Now correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t calcium the very source of most kidney stones?
And, although cranberry juice may have some plumbing preventitive properties, I’m not sure how it could eliminate kidney stones. If it did this, there would be millions of rejoicing individuals who were looking at the prospect of having to pass them!
Anecdotal evidence: I have a history of UTIs and kidney stones (3 so far; one was an oxalate stone). I haven’t had a recurrence (since 1996) since I started drinking cranberry juice on a somewhat daily basis.
I’m one of the few males that ever had a urinary tract infection (what’s next? a yeast infection?) and the doc told me to drink cranberry juice. I sure didn’t mind, I love the stuff. This was between 1981 and 1985.
Does all cranberry juice have calcium? Lots of juices now are fortified with stuff not naturally found in them (I suspect for kids and adults who don’t like to drink milk), so maybe your bottle is just special, benson, and cranberry juice doesn’t really contain calcium.
In order for cranberry juice to be effective against UTIs, you’d have to drink gallons and gallons of the stuff, which would probably lead to other complications; not that drinking it is bad for you, indeed fluid intake is generally good and cranberry juice has vitamins etc, but there’s no conclusive evidence that it is effective against UTIs (that’s what I keep hearing anyway).
Fresh cranberries contain 7mg of calcium per 100g, which is rather low - strawberries contain twice as much, oranges contain 40mg (nearly six times the amount), spinach contains thirty times the amount
Well, every time I’ve felt a UTI coming on, I’ve staved off the symptoms by chugging cranberry juice. (It’s always fun when the UTI starts on a Friday night, when you know the only way you’ll get to see a doctor before Monday is to go to the ER, which seems a bit extrme.) It works for me. Other liquids don’t. Heck, even my gyno recommended it. It’s never killed off the UTI entirely, but lessed the symptoms enough that I could function unitl I got to the doctor.
Time for the straight dope which, in medical matters, is usually the findings of a Cochrane Review.
Below is the conclusion of Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2001;(3):CD001321, “Cranberries for preventing urinary tract infections” by Jepson RG, Mihaljevic L, Craig J.
REVIEWER’S CONCLUSIONS: The small number of poor quality trials gives no reliable evidence of the effectiveness of cranberry juice and other cranberry products. The large number of dropouts/withdrawals from the trials indicates that cranberry juice may not be acceptable over long periods of time. There is no conclusive evidence to recommend cranberry juice for the prevention of UTIs. Further properly designed trials with relevant outcomes are needed.
Even if the chemcial compound in question isn’t in a high enough dosage to do much good unless you practically OD on cranberry juice, the fact that you’re pushing fluids helps. (Flush out those kidneys! Rinse out that bladder! Watch your water bill go sky high from flushing every 10 minutes!)
And, to add to the anecdotal ‘evidence’: I, my sister, and my mother all can successfully fight off a UTI if we start chugging the 'juice at the first signs of a problem. But, if that’s the cranberry or the sudden fluid rush flushing out our systems… I can’t tell. End result is what matters to me though, in this case.
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