Cranberry juice is derived from one of the three native berries of North America --the cranberry. The herbal properties of these red berries are especially advantageous to those who suffer frequent urinary tract infections, or UTIs for short. Although specific dosages of this herb are advised, drinking a gallon -- or 16 eight-ounce glasses -- will not clean the urine. Science has proven that cranberry juice does not clean urine, but it provides protection against those would-be UTIs .
When floating in the urine, microbes such as E. coli and staph adhere to susceptible spots in the urinary tract and grow. These microbes cause a painful inflammatory response in these tissues, which leads to the classic UTI symptoms of painful, frequent urination and occasional blood in the urine. Cranberry juice does not actually clean the urine. The phytochemicals, or plant extracts, of cranberries adhere to the walls of the bladder and urethra, giving them a virtual Teflon coating against germs.
Cranberry juice is available in an array of choices from cocktails, low-calorie versions and even concentrated tablets. For UTI prophylaxis, the American Academy of Family Physicians suggests drinking three 8-oz glasses a day or taking one tablet of cranberry extract twice a day by mouth. The AAFP also suggests finding a cranberry extract tablet of at least 300 to 400 mg strength for full effect. Some juice daily is better than none; "Chemical & Engineering News" cites that the benefits of cranberries remain active in the urinary tract for as long as six to 24 hours after the last glass.
Sweet or Unsweet
Scientific research is unclear on the efficacy of sweet versus the unsweetened natural cranberry juices. "Chemical & Engineering News" quotes studies that state sweetened juice, such as cranberry juice cocktail, has the same anti-microbial properties as its diet counterpart. However, The American Academy of Family Physicians suggests using only unsweetened, natural cranberry juice or cranberry tablets to fight UTIs.
Besides preventing some urinary infections, cranberry juice has shown effectiveness in fighting some forms of fungal infections as well as helping the teeth. The same property that allows cranberry juice to prevent E. coli from adhering to the bladder applies to dental plaques, or tartar on the teeth. Unfortunately, no science has proved that cranberry juice can stop the fungus causing yeast infections.