The Medicinal Relationship between Cranberries and UTI

About 60 percent of women will experience Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) and the painful, frequent and sometimes urgent urination that goes with it over their lifetimes. Literature often discusses that drinking cranberry juice or taking cranberry supplements can prevent and treat UTIs. Is this accurate? We discussed the topic with Kelly Halderman, MD. Dr. Halderman is one of the top nutraceutical formulators in the country who provided her thoughts regarding this important topic..  

Natural Solutions:      Today we’re going to talk a little bit about Urinary Tract Infections (UTI). The product that you have is a cranberry based product, cranberries and UTI, there’s lots of controversy in that?

Right this product is cranberry combined with a prebiotic soluble fiber call Sunfiber. Iit’s instantly soluble in water. Cranberries have had a medicinal relationship with UTI for years, hundreds and hundreds of years. The analogy that I think of is that all of a sudden we have an explosion of Kombucha on our shelves, but is it anywhere near what our grandmothers, great-grandmothers used to make for their medicinal purposes? Absolutely not. When we’re looking at cranberries, as it pertains to medicinal uses what we want to look for an organic cranberry product, one that definitely has the amount of PACs, that stands for “proanthocyanidins”, in it because those PACs are what makes the cranberry actually help with urinary health.  It is important for a cranberry supplement to be scientifically tested for PACs and anti- adhesion activity so you know it will work. 

When you’re looking at someone who says, “Well I have a UTI. I’m going to drink cranberry juice.” It’s like wait, wait a minute. We want to go with a company that has done the clinical research and that the research is showing that in SunCran offers a cranberry extract where the PACs have been tested for and they are present. The product that I recommend has science to back its use; this study was done with Rutgers where the actual anti adhesion effects were measured and when it was combined with Sunfiber, which helps support the gut that those anti adhesion effects got even more statistically significant. And that’s what I look for as a researcher myself, the data.  So, when you hear the word cranberry as it pertains to UTIs and urinary health, there’s a big difference between juice on the shelf versus studied ingredients, such as SunCran.

What about cranberry products pumped with sugar?

Right. Exactly. On the supplement side, it’s different because you don’t need the sugar there because you don’t have the sour taste. And sugar is not helping our situation with these UTIs, because sugar feeds bacteria. There are approximately 10 million doctors’ visits a year for UTI and that’s when they walk into the doctor’s office. You think about the recurrence rates and those women who self-treat and aren’t seen in a doctor’s office. With the infections that are treated with antibiotics we now have to be concerned about antibiotic resistance.  The reoccurrence rate is very high even if you are treated with antibiotics; there’s a 50% chance a person will get another one in less than six months.  We need a solution or a the very least a better long-term strategy.   We know cranberry can help, just like we knew seatbelts in cars helped to save lives.  Then the airbag was discovered and it helped even more and now the research is showing the positive benefits of combining cranberry with prebiotic fiber and it helped even more so than with cranberry alone. This is cutting edge. Hippocrates said all disease begins in gut, now we’re finding you can combine it with something that supports the gut; the SunFiber in SunCran helps to support our foundation of health, the gut!

Sunfiber, which has 120 human clinical studies backing its effectiveness and feeds the good bacteria in the gut. Also when it was added to that SunCran, that cranberry extract, it increased the anti-adhesion effects. So it’s a two for one, it’s a turnkey solution for a problem. Again, that’s not getting any better.

What impact does it have on gut flora?

It positively impacts your gut by feeding the good bacteria (flora) and creating a better environment for good bacteria to live and changes the terrain so the bad bacteria do not thrive.  With all the use of antibiotics used to treat UTIs, we really need gut support more than ever. And then we’re looking at the downstream effects of that with the antibiotic resistance, which is really scary. And then you look at the other side of spectrum when we’re using the sun fiber from Tomorrow’s Nutrition Pro. It strengthens the gut. It nourishes the good bacteria. We’re adding something in and also helping with the UTI itself with that anti adhesion effect and the recurrence because those bacteria they want embed into the bladder wall. We also want to focus on prevention with proper hydration, urination after sexual intercourse and good hygiene. Menopause also puts you at risk for UTIs as does pregnancy.

Some things will cause the bacteria that commonly embeds into the urinary bladder’s membrane to come out, starting up an infection. We see this a lot in terms of reoccurrence. At times, we need look at using something for prophylaxis, something that makes it less likely that reoccurrence will happen. SunCran is a great option if you’re prone to getting UTIs.  Again, it really helps to strengthen your gut and it also to help bind the E coli and get it out in your urine, rather than for it to cause another UTI. What wer are also doing is having people put it by their bedside so if they’re going to have sexual intercourse and their also prone to UTI, take some before and then take some after.  All this should be run past your licensed healthcare provider, of course.

And did you find it as a product that’s a long-term solution or do people take it for say 90 days and then go off it and then when they come back to a UTI comes back, then they go back on it again?

I see it as both. I see it as we’re trying to find the correct dose so that we are, if they’re prone to them, then we’re decreasing the rate of recurrence. If they, they’re not quote unquote prone to them, but they’re starting to feel one coming on. They’re very common in women. And I myself, when I was pregnant, I had a run, I had three of them with my last child, and I would’ve given my left arm for products such as this because I ended up having to go on antibiotics. But I would say that I wasn’t quote unquote prone to them, but when I was pregnant, I would have loved to have taken something where it would have helped and help to decrease the reoccurence rate.

When I first got that inkling like, “Ooh, something’s off,” I would’ve started taking it. And again, it’s case by case. I also want to add that patient’s need to work with their practitioner. I don’t see any harm and the research and in the science behind using Sunfiber, a soluble fiber and a cranberry extract. But you, you always have to make sure just check with the provider that you’re with. But I myself would use that.

In the long term would you build up like a resistance to it where it doesn’t do much good anymore because you’re taking it all the time?

We’re not seeing that. I’m not seeing that Dick. I’ve definitely thought about that. So we’re not seeing, because it’s working in a different, it’s adhering, it’s binding to the bacteria and not killing it. So, as far as that goes, I don’t have a paper or a reference that I could say either way, but that the PACs themselves, they are as effective as they were when we started researching as they are now. So, that may be a question that we can answer later, but I might… But from my experience, I would say that I would not expect that.

You indicated UTIs are far more common in women than men. What about using I guess I don’t even know how men know if they have a UTI.

It’s perfectly safe for men as well. And sometimes I will have the partner of the woman who is prone to them go on a short course of it to see if I can clear out anything that they may be bringing to their partner, a male will have the same experience and they’re very, they’re much less likely to get a UTI. They’ll just have burning, increased frequency of urination.

 And so then, so when you have patients who, for whatever reason, menopausal or pregnant women, whatever, who are more prone to UTIs, before they even have a UTI, do you recommend the product or do you wait until they have issues?

No, it’s case dependent, but I am, I have a few women in my care that I’ve put on as prophylaxis and they haven’t gotten any. The UTI that they expected to have at the three months mark hasn’t come back. The product that’s for professional use only is called CranXym from US Enzymes and Tomorrow’s Nutrition Pro – you can only obtain from a licensed healthcare provider. This product is the same as SUnCran with it’s cranberry and SunFiber but it also has the added benefit of having nattokinase in it, which is helpful for mucus secretions.    

And so the SunCran is the, it’s from North America, North America grown. And that is the cranberry extract coupled with the Sunfiber. And that you can buy at www.tomorrowsnutrition.com And you can read all the studies on Sunfiber at www.sunfiber.com.

Kelly Halderman, MD completed a Family Practice Medicine internship with the University of Minnesota; has a Naturopathic Medical Degree from Kingdom College of Natural Health where she is the current Academic Dean of Students. She holds certification in MethylGenetic Nutrition by the Nutrigenetic Research Institute, certification from The American Functional Neurology Institute in Functional Neurology and Neurofeedback, board certification in Clinical Nutrition, certification in Plant Based Nutrition from Cornell University and health coaching certification from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She is one of the top nutraceutical formulators in the country. She works alongside her husband, who is also a doctor at Halderman Wellness LLC in the Twin Cities. Her practice interests include proper detoxification, nutrition and regenerative therapies.

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