Cranberry pills contain powdered cranberries, and the cranberry pills benefits include helping to prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs), providing antioxidants and a variety of other health benefits. Cranberry pills are considered safe, have limited side effects and are available in different dosages.
Cranberry Pills Dosage
The Food and Drug Administration does not make any recommendations or regulate cranberry pills since they are a supplement. As a result, cranberry pills do not have a uniform or recommended dosage. The size of the dose can vary greatly between brands.
You should talk to your doctor before starting to take cranberry pills. Your doctor can recommend a safe dosage for you and review any drug interactions that cranberry pills may cause. They can provide you other information that can help you determine if a cranberry supplement is right for you.
According to Cleveland Clinic, most cranberry juice and supplements don't contain enough cranberry to treat a UTI. However, the Cleveland Clinic also says taking them can't hurt. While there is no standard dosing information for a UTI, typical doses generally start around 600 milligram pills or capsules, but they are available in does of higher than 1,200 milligrams. However, manufacturers sell doses ranging from around 400 milligrams to 4,200 milligrams cranberry pills.
Cranberry Pill Benefits
One of the benefits people often mention about cranberry pills is that they help prevent UTIs so you don't get them again. Some people claim that they can help treat UTIs, but these claims are not backed with research.
Read More: What Are the First UTI Symptoms?
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), there is competing evidence on the effectiveness of cranberry pills in helping prevent UTIs. They reference two older reviews both from 2012.
One review looked at 13 studies and found that women, children and certain other groups had a reduced risk of UTIs when taking cranberry supplements. The other review looked at 24 studies and concluded that cranberry juice and supplements do not help prevent UTIs. However, NCCIH notes that the second review looked at studies that were of poor quality.
A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in November 2016 looked at 185 older women living in a nursing home. They found that the group of women taking cranberry supplements saw a decrease in the amount of bacteria in their urine in the first six months. However, the study did not show a decrease in UTI frequency in the first year.
Still, another study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology in August 2015 looked at over 150 post-surgery women and the effects taking two cranberry capsules has on preventing UTIs. The researchers found that of the participants that took the cranberry supplements had a significantly lower occurrence of UTIs compared to the placebo group.
Other cranberry pill benefits may include some of the following. According to Pennington Biomedical Research Center, possible health benefits of cranberries may include:
- Cranberries have a high level of antioxidants that help prevent free radicals
- May help prevent chronic disease
- May help treat stomach ailments
- May benefit wound treatment
- May help with prevention of cancer
Cranberry Pills Side Effects
For most people, cranberry pills are safe to take. However, there are some potential, though mild, side effects you may experience, including:
- Stomach pain or discomfort
- Potential to cause kidney stones, especially if you are susceptible to them
- May increase affects of blood thinning medications such as warfarin
If you have or suspect you have a UTI, you should see your doctor for treatment. There is limited to no proof that cranberry supplements or juice can cure a UTI. Instead, your doctor can prescribe antibiotics to fight the infection.
If you do notice any side effects from taking cranberry supplements, you should discontinue use. You can also talk to your doctor about potential alternatives to cranberry supplements and if they believe you need them.
- National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH): "Cranberry"
- Journal of the American Medical Association: "Effect of Cranberry Capsules on Bacteriuria Plus Pyuria Among Older Women in Nursing Homes: A Randomized Clinical Trial"
- American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology: "Cranberry juice capsules and urinary tract infection after surgery: results of a randomized trial"
- Cleveland Clinic: "Can Cranberry Juice Stop Your UTI?"
- Pennington Biomedical Research Center: "Cranberries"