Probiotic supplement with cranberry significantly reduces recurrent UTIS

A probiotic and cranberry supplement, containing two specially selected strains of live bacteria and cranberry proanthocyanidins (PACs), plus vitamin A, has been shown to significantly lower the number of recurrent urinary tract infections (rUTIs) in premenopausal women, as well as shortening the duration of active UTIs, and reducing the need for antibiotic treatment.

The study, which was published in the journal Expert Review of Anti-Infective Therapy included 90 adult pre-menopausal women (18+) who had been diagnosed with rUTI, based on 2 or more episodes in the last 6 months, or 3 or more episodes in the last 12 months. During this double blind, randomised, placebo-controlled trial1 (the gold standard for medical research), the patients received either the probiotic-cranberry supplement (1 capsule twice per day), or a placebo over the duration of 6 months.

By the end of the 6 month trial, the incidence of rUTIs amongst those taking the probiotic and cranberry supplement versus the placebo was significantly reduced (e.g. 9.1% incidencein the probiotic and cranberry supplement group vs 33.3% in the placebo group) meaning those in the probiotic and cranberry group were almost 4 times less likely to experience a UTI than the placebo group.

The probiotic and cranberry supplement group also produced statistically significant improvements compared with the placebo group in several secondary endpoints, including:

  • A longer period before the first UTI (174 days vs 90)
  • A reduced duration of infection (5 days vs 12)
  • Fewer women requiring antibiotic treatment for acute UTIs (3 women vs 11)
  • Fewer courses of antibiotics needed to treat acute UTIs (3 vs 14)
  • The average duration of antibiotic treatment was >40% shorter than the placebo group (4 vs 7 days)

The study is the first of its kind to show that a probiotic can significantly reduce rUTIs in women vs a placebo, as well as significantly reducing rUTIs specifically in premenopausal women.   

Leading GPs are encouraged by the research findings, which they hope will provide relief from the significant discomfort caused by rUTI, as well as the overuse of antibiotics, and the substantial demands placed on the NHS. Dr Mohammed Naveed Baig, GP and senior partner at Riverhouse Surgery comments, ‘Urinary tract infections have a significant impact on patient’s quality of life and are responsible for a substantial proportion of antibiotic prescriptions in the community. The reduction in frequency of recurrent infections and courses of antibiotics identified in this study are very promising. Further large-scale trials are needed to validate these positive results.’

Prominent gut health expert, Prof Glenn Gibson, professor of Food Microbiology and head of Food Microbial Sciences at the University of Reading adds, ‘This is a very well conducted and reported study that adds to the body of important data on positive effects of probiotics. UTIs are a source of much discomfort and pain for millions of women worldwide and anything that can be done to alleviate this is

certainly welcome. The mechanisms of action here are likely direct inhibition of the pathogens responsible for UTIs, as well as overall immune stimulation. The added advantage is that good probiotics are safe for human use and therefore carry negligible risk. It is good to see in vivo studies such as this, as these provide a much more reliable assessment of impact than animal or laboratory models.’

Dr Ashton Harper, medical director at ADM Protexin Limited and author concludes, ‘UTIs are amongst the most common types of infection with the highest incidence occurring in adult women. Over 50% of all women will experience at least one UTI during their lifetime, with 20-30% suffering from recurrent infections. Antibiotics are commonly used to both treat and prevent UTIs. However, the alarming rise in antibiotic resistance coupled with the negative ecological impact they can have on our beneficial resident microbes results in a double edged sword. The substantial reduction in both the number of UTIs and antibiotic courses achieved in this trial is extremely encouraging. Future research conducted in the hospital setting, and additional patient sub-groups, will hopefully broaden the scope of application of this product even further.’

18th November 2019

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