February 22, 2011 in Features

Cranberry juice treats urinary-tract infection

Joe And Teresa Graedon

On the Web

• In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. E-mail them via their Web site: www.PeoplesPharmacy.com

Q. Do you have any information about remedies for urinary-tract infections (UTI) other than antibiotics? What about cranberry juice?

A. Cranberry juice is a time-honored folk remedy for preventing or treating UTI. The science, on the other hand, is quite confusing.

An analysis of 10 different controlled trials concluded that there is some evidence cranberry juice or pills prevent recurrent UTIs (Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Issue One, 2008).

The most recent study did not find a difference between cranberry juice and a look-alike, cranberry-flavored placebo beverage (Clinical Infectious Diseases, Jan. 1, 2011). The authors were surprised, however, that women in both arms of the trial had only half as many infections as anticipated. They speculate that the placebo might accidentally have contained the infection-fighting ingredient in cranberries.

Readers of this column report that cranberry pills have been helpful: “I was having frequent UTIs when a friend suggested taking a 500 mg capsule of cranberry daily. I haven’t had a UTI in the two years since then.”

Q. I love reading about all the unusual remedies people try for their health problems. Have you put their experiences in a book? I would love to get a copy.

A. We have collected a large number of these stories in our book “Favorite Home Remedies From the People’s Pharmacy.” They include everything from topical milk of magnesia for underarm odor to yams for hot flashes. Anyone who would like a copy can find it at www.peoplespharmacy.com or by sending $8.95 (plus $4 S&H) to: Graedons’ People’s Pharmacy (Dept FHR), P.O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027.

Q. For some time, I have had increasingly bad pain in my right knee, left hip and lower back. I was getting so depressed because I was barely functioning.

A friend recommended turmeric, and I decided to try it. Up to that point I had been living on way too much ibuprofen every day. Since the first turmeric tablet, I have not needed another ibuprofen.

The results with turmeric are much better than with ibuprofen. My energy level also is better.

The lady at the health-food store recommended fish oil, and I have been taking that, too. I definitely recommend turmeric as an anti-inflammatory to anyone who can take it.

A. The active ingredient in turmeric, curcumin, has well-established anti-inflammatory activity. We could find no studies on the combination of fish oil and turmeric for arthritis pain in humans. Preliminary rodent research suggests that this combination might be helpful in fighting inflammation (Biochimica et Biophysica Acta, Nov. 10, 1994).

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