How do cranberries help to support urinary tract health?
Cranberries possess natural compounds that have the ability to maintain a healthy urinary tract.* It was once believed that the method of action for cranberry’s urinary tract benefits was limited to its ability to acidify the urine. Recent scientific studies suggest that there’s more to it than just its ability to lower urinary pH.*
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine (339: 15, 1085-1086, 1998) offered evidence that certain tannins (polyphenolic plant compounds) found in cranberry juice called proanthocyanidins are actually responsible for cleansing the surface tissues of the urinary tract, and allowing for healthy elimination.*
Cranberries also have small amounts of a naturally-occurring sugar called D-mannose, which is believed to provide additional cleansing properties that enhance the naturally occurring proanthocyanidins in cranberries.* Together proanthocyanidins and D-mannose may help to maintain the healthy surfaces of the urinary tract; however, they’re unlikely to have any effect on pre-existing build-up.
Some cranberry products also contain Uva Ursi and Grapeseed extracts; what is their purpose?
Uva ursi has a long history of use in the support of urinary tract health.* Modern scientific research indicates that the tannins in uva ursi may support normal immune responses.* Grapeseed extract has polyphenols similar to the tannins found in cranberries, and these polyphenols complement the actions of cranberries.
Do any of the ingredients mentioned above treat infections?
Absolutely not! While certain nutrients and/or herbs may help to maintain a healthy microbial balance,* they’re not antibiotics and they’ll have no effect on existing colonies of bacteria that may have colonized the urinary tract. If you believe you have a urinary tract infection, please consult a physician for proper treatment, and make sure to inform him or her of any supplements you are taking.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.