Taking cranberry for prostatitis treatment can be useful to men with both bacterial and nonbacterial types of prostatitis. For centuries, people have valued using cranberries (Vaccinium macrocarpon, the American cranberry) for their healing abilities, and Native Americans have long since used them to treat bladder and kidney conditions. Cranberries are related to blueberries, buckberries, and huckleberries and provide an excellent source of antioxidants, including phytonutrients called proanthocyanidins (PACs), as well as vitamin C.
Besides cranberries, other foods also contain PACs; for example, apples, chocolate, green tea, grapes, and maritime pine bark (Pycnogenol) are good sources of the phytonutrient. Cranberries, however, contain a unique type of PACs. The main types of PACs in cranberries are called A-type PACs, and these differ from those found in other foods, which are called B-type PACs.
Only the PACs in cranberries have the ability to prevent bacteria from adhering to the walls of the urinary tract, which is the essential characteristic that makes cranberries so helpful in managing urinary tract infections.
Cranberry for Prostatitis Treatment — Does It Work?
Studies from around the world show that taking cranberry may be helpful in managing prostatitis, urinary tract infections, and enlarged prostate, also called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Cranberry is a Tier 2 supplement for prostatitis, meaning that cranberry for prostatitis has significant clinical studies and research backing up its use. Men with either bacterial prostatitis or chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CP/CPPS), which is not caused by bacteria, can benefit from taking cranberry supplements.
Studies on cranberry for prostatitis treatment and urinary health include the following:
- Cranberry’s ability to help relieve lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) was seen in a study of 42 men who had CP/CPPS. All the men were assigned to take either 1,500 mg of dried powdered cranberries or no cranberry supplement daily for six months. By the end of the study, men who had taken the cranberry supplement showed a significant improvement in LUTS when compared with men in the control group. The study’s authors concluded that their findings were “the first firm evidence that cranberries may ameliorate LUTS, independent of benign prostatic hyperplasia.”
- French scientists measured the PACs in cranberries using a method called the 4-dimethylaminocinnamaldehyde (DMAC). Then in 2004, France became the first country to approve a health claim for the American cranberry, noting that use of at least 36 mg of proanthocyanidins can “help reduce the adhesion of certain coli bacteria to the urinary tract walls.” Numerous studies since then have demonstrated the ability of cranberries to help manage urinary tract infections, supporting the use of cranberry supplements or juice (unsweetened) for this purpose.
- A Czech Republic study included 42 men at risk of prostate disease because they had LUTS, elevated prostate-specific antigen (PSA), negative prostate biopsy, and chronic nonbacterial prostatitis. The participants were given either 1,500 mg of dried powdered cranberries per day for six months or no cranberry supplement. Compared with the control group, men who had taken the cranberry supplement had statistically significant improvement in International Prostate Symptom Score (IPSS), quality of life, urination factors (e.g., rate of urine flow, average flow, total volume, post-void residual urine volume), and lower total PSA levels at the end of the six-month study. Men in the control group showed no statistically significant improvement. The authors noted that their results were “the first firm evidence that cranberries may ameliorate LUTS, independent of benign prostatic hyperplasia or C-reactive protein level.” (Vidlar 2010)
- Cranberries showed evidence of relieving prostatitis symptoms in a study involving 48 rats with chronic bacterial prostatitis (CBP). The rats were given either coli extract, cranberry, ciprofloxacin (an antibiotic), or no intervention. After four weeks, the found that the infection rate in the antibiotic group was significantly lower than the rate in the control group, and that the E. coli and cranberry groups showed significantly reduced bacterial growth and prostatic inflammation when compared with the control group. Based on these observations, the authors concluded, “cranberry also exhibits promising activity in this context.” (Kim 2010)
- Besides helping prostatitis patients, cranberry has demonstrated usefulness in preventing bladder infections in men undergoing radiation for prostate cancer. A study in Cancer Management and Research reported that a cranberry extract was effective in reducing the risk of urinary tract infections and LUTS in men who were undergoing radiation therapy for prostate cancer. Specifically, of the 184 men given cranberry extract, only 16 (8.7%) experienced a urinary tract infection associated with radiation therapy compared with 45 of 186 men (24.2%) in the control group. The researchers also reported a lower rate of LUTS among men in the cranberry group.
Uses and Side Effects of Cranberry
Cranberry is most beneficial in supporting urinary tract health and managing urinary tract symptoms at a dose of 500 mg daily. Cranberry is considered safe with no serious side effects. However, cranberry contains high levels of oxalate, chemicals that can increase risk for kidney stones, so be sure to consult your doctor before taking cranberry if you have had kidney stones. Cranberry may also interfere with the effects of blood-thinning drugs.
References for Cranberry for Prostatitis Treatment:
Howell AB et al. Dosage effect on uropathogenic Escherichia coli anti-adhesion activity in urine following consumption of cranberry powder standardized for proanthocyanidin content: a multicentric randomized double blind study. BMC Infect Dis 2010 Apr 14; 10(1): 94
Howell AB. Bioactive compounds in cranberries and their role in prevention of urinary tract infections. Mol Nutr Food Res 2007 Jun; 51(6): 732-37
Howell AB, Foxman B. Cranberry juice and adhesion of antibiotic-resistant uropathogens. JAMA 2002 Jun 19; 287(23): 3082-83
Kim SH et al. Do Escherichia coli extract and cranberry exert preventive effects on chronic bacterial prostatitis? J Infect Chemother 2010 Nov 2
Sengupta K et al. A randomized, double-blind, controlled, dose dependent clinical trial to evaluate the efficacy of a proanthocyanidin standardized whole cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon) powder on infections of the urinary tract. Current Bioactive Compounds 2011 Mar; 7(1): 39-46
University of Maryland Medical Center
Vidlar A et al. The effectiveness of dried cranberries (Vaccinium macrocarpon) in men with lower urinary tract symptoms. Br J Nutr 2010 Oct; 104(8): 1181-89