Cranberry pills: blessing or a curse?


Cranberries are believed to be curative from a long time and have the reputation to be particularly useful for urinary tract infections (UTIs). They cannot treat them but have the tendency to prevent UTIs. For years, they have been linked with many health perks and in modern times they are taken in the form of supplements and pills. The pills have to be taken in the prescribed amount and in a proper routine. Doctors also recommend cranberry pills for treating certain bladder diseases particularly, treating neurogenic bladder. Cranberry pills basically contain some chemicals that do not allow the bacteria that cause UTI to stick to urinary duct. If bacteria stick to urinary duct, it can multiply over there and lead to causing UTI. Though, it has the ability to prevent the cells sticking to duct, it is of no use with respect to removing already present bacteria. It is, probably, due to this reason that it has little effect on treating UTI and can only be helpful with preventing the disease.

Though it has been proved to carry certain health benefits, it has also shown some serious side effects. Following are some of the side effects that can be caused due to usage of cranberry pills:

- It can cause certain allergic reactions. Cranberry pills contain salicylic acid which is a compound like aspirin. People who are allergic to aspirin should also avoid cranberry pills. Moreover, people who are allergic to Vaccinium also should not take cranberry pills.

- They are also a cause to gastrointestinal distress and diarrhea.

- Cranberries have high sugar content which makes it unsuitable for diabetics. Moreover, it can also cause diabetes.

- Cranberries contain considerable amounts of a chemical called oxalate. Researchers have shown that cranberries can elevate the level of oxalate in urine. Unfortunately, oxalates can combine with calcium to form kidney stones.

- It is notorious for its interaction with other drugs. The combination can cause serious issues and it is particularly dangerous with drugs like warafin.

Moreover, it has shown some complications with pregnant mothers, so, it should be avoided by them. Though, cranberry supplements are pretty useful, their unsuitability in some cases and general side effects hinder them from common use. Cranberry juices have also shown little difference from cranberry pills, with respect to their behaviour.  Unsweetened cranberry juices, produced from concentrates, however, seem to curb many of these problems.  More importantly, unsweetened cranberry juice can provide you all the benefits that cranberry supplements can provide without causing most of the side effects. Following are some of the benefits you have with using unsweetened cranberry juice:

- It is useful in preventing urinary tract infections.
- Polyphenolic compounds in it can prevent tumors.
- It can lower the risk of health diseases and improves the functioning of heart.
- It is good for people dealing with obesity.
- It can prevent cancer.
- It has been shown to be particularly useful for treating respiratory diseases.

Excess of anything is bad and therefore, it should also be used with a moderate approach. Usage could be anything between 8-10 ounces, but should never exceed 16 ounces a day.