Antibiotics bested cranberry capsules in preventing urinary tract infections. The research was conducted among more than 200 Dutch women who had experienced at least three urinary tract infections during the previous year. The volunteers were randomized to receive either preventive antibiotics or cranberry capsules. The antibiotic used was a combination of trimethoprim and sulfamethoxazole, frequently known by the brand names Bactrim or Septra.

The women who took the cranberry capsules averaged about four infections over the course of the next year. Those on antibiotics averaged only two infections. Although such results favor the prophylactic use of antibiotics, resistance to the medication developed quite quickly. Side effects and drug interaction problems associated with these antibiotics make regular, long-term use problematic. It may be that cranberry juice is more effective than cranberry capsules. Cranberries are far less likely to be associated with bacterial resistance.

[Archives of Internal Medicine, online July 25, 2011]

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  1. MC

    At the “first” sign of a UTI, I take something called “D-Mannosse” by Clear Tract. You can get it at Whole Foods or any health food store. It’s a powder. Mix in water and drinks several times that day. I also will take Uva Ursi herb and Cranberry capsules. This usually stops the UTI from getting worse. If things do get worse, I’ll go get my urine tested and even if they say I have an infection, I don’t start the antibiotics until they get the test results back. Often, they call and say there was no infection. If I do have an infection and I go on antibiotics, I make sure when I’m done with antibiotics to take Probiotics DAILY for 6 months to build up the good bacteria in my intestinal tract. Otherwise, you’ll be susceptible to catching all sorts of things if you don’t replace that bad bacteria with good. I like the pre- and probiotic called “Optiflora” by Shaklee (www.mcress., It’s wonderful and doesn’t need to be refrigerated. Make sure to take daily for 6 months!

  2. JLH

    I took Cipro, too. It worked like a charm on the UTI–but then my Achilles’ Tendons swelled up and nothing could calm them down. (My doctor didn’t even know about this fairly common side effect–or that the damage could be permanent!) It’s been three years since I took the Cipro–and I still have periods of time when that danged tendon starts to ache and swell. Talk about a rock and a hard place!

  3. CG

    Thanks for the reply. I just finished Nitrofuradantin and am waiting to see if it worked. I started Organic Cranberry Juice a few days ago and eww it is not good. I will gladly switch to the capsules. I have reading a lot on UTI’s lately since I started having so many in the last 5 months. I read that because of the dryness of the vaginal mucosa, bacteria can adhere much better. Don’t know what to do about that exactly but if you have any idea, please share.

  4. Barbara W.

    In my opinion cranberry capsules beat the juice for efficacy AND price any time! AND if you feel a UTI starting, take 8 of them and blammo: it’s gone!

  5. CG

    I have had frequent UTI’s this year for the first time and was/am treated with antibiotics but keep getting re-infected. I’ve just bought some organic cranberry juice with optimism. Here’s my question, has anyone used a topical gel to protect a dry vaginal area to prevent E.Coli from adhering to the mucosa?

  6. wdc

    Cranberry juice is usually in the fruit juice section, but for some reason it is a different section next to all the other flavored and combo juices. This is true at all three of the stores I frequent.

  7. EM

    If you are near a Trader Joe’s store, they have cranberry juice that is not a drink but straight juice and is their brand. Much cheaper!

  8. jla

    I forgot to include this little fact: One of my meds, a calcium channel blocker is likely the cause of my recent issues. Reports show UTIs are a low 2% chance of unlisted side effects and the majority in this group, 86%, are women over 60. That includes me.

  9. jla

    Generally the R.W Knudsen cranberry juice is found on the topmost shelf of your local grocery store. It is usually stored among the higher priced pure juices. I am sure they would have a web site with a locator for their product, too.
    I had posted response to the original post about frequent UTIs but I must not have verified it soon enough. Please do this is you have frequent UTIs. Check ALL reported side effects for your meds at the FDA’s website. There are more side effects listed there than on any other web site you visit. AND, if you are using feminine products or panties for leakage or urinary incontinence, change them often.
    The newer extra absorbent products are made overseas and contain the tiny little beads of plastic which absorb up to hundreds of times their weight. In spite of the “stay dri” linings you may be exposing your private part to a condition similar to a diaper rash which irritates the urethera and thus irritates the bladder.
    Only you can protect yourself by self-educating.

  10. RKL

    I was experiencing many UTI’s and taking Cipro… then I started taking one tablespoon of Cystex per day. (it is concentrated) and equals drinking 8 glasses of cranberry
    juice. So far, all is good and no UTI in sight. You can purchase Cystex over counter at your drug store.

  11. Marion

    My doctor had me on low dose antibiotics for frequent UTI’s and I developed a reaction to it. I now use Oil of Oregano and am still UTI free. I am grateful for the information about cranberry juice vs. cranberry drink since the drink did not help me.

  12. Helen

    Where do I find RW Knudsen cranberry juice?

  13. JAS

    I have had cipro many times for UTIs. The last time, I took cipro, I had and still have, tendinitis in my left arch, very likely due to the cipro. I asked about its safety for a woman my age (mid-70’s) and the doctor said it would be fine. But it wasn’t. I now rely on cranberry capsules, cranberry juice, daily, and drink a lot of water. So far, no UTI for a year.

  14. Gerry Anne M.

    Different sources are not in agreement as to whether cranberry should be in a diet where coumadin is being used. Whenever cranberry is recommended, I hope to hear a reliable caution if the connection to coumadin is accurate.

  15. Dolores

    I had frequent severe urinary tract infections, twice being hospitalized with them. I was frequently on some medication or antibiotic. Someone told me about drinking cranberry juice.
    I started drinking it and I haven’t had a urinary tract infection since. Whenever I feel like one coming on or anything wrong with my urinary tract, I increase the amount of juice to 1/2 cup once or twice a day. When the symptoms are gone I go back to 1/4 cup or less a day as a maintenance.
    I am talking about actual juice, not cranberry drink. The drink has sugar in it and I don’t know if the percentage of actual juice is sufficient. The actual juice is not sweet and you must get used to the taste. But I overcame that quickly because of what it does.
    A friend of mine said her doctor told her to drink cranberry juice. The juice can be expensive depending on what brand you buy. I buy R. W. Knudsen brand by the quart @ about 7.99-9.99, and/or a concentrate 8 oz. bottle (which you mix with a little water) for the same prices depending on the store. There are other brands which I haven’t used.
    Just make sure it says real juice with no additives or mixtures of other juices. For those that I know who use it, it works, they say even the cranberry drink, though they drink more of it, at less cost per bottle, to I guess, apparently do the same thing.

  16. Barbara W.

    I had dreadfully painful urinary infections for years. My solution now is one
    cranberry capsule a day and when I feel myself getting a UTI, I take 8
    immediately. I plan to follow by more if the pain continues. So far, 8 have done it.

  17. paulbyr

    I would want to know if Septra (or others) is more effective in “curing” the UTI in chronic sufferers who routinely ingest cranberry juice or pills. We ALL know that if someone takes the same antibiotic for a long time the bacteria it attacks will become resistant to that drug. It is therefore of little interest (to me anyhow) that long term use of Septra is more effective than cranberry capsules.

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