If you’ve ever had cranberry juice, chances are, you’ve heard about how it’s good for preventing urinary tract infections (UTIs). While that’s still up for debate, kidney stone patients are often curious if its alleged urinary benefits will apply to kidney stones.
What does cranberry juice do?
Cranberries are often known as a superfood, as it contains a high concentration of nutritents and polyphenols, which acts as a natural antioxidant1. Cranberry juice is often consumed to prevent and/or relieve the symptoms of UTIs, as it may help to prevent E. Coli bacteria from adhering and proliferating in the urinary tract1.
Why do people think that cranberry juice helps with kidney stones?
Early studies conducted in the late 1990s found that consuming 24 oz of cranberry juice could help to lower the urine pH, making it more acidic2,3. As a result, it is commonly believed that an acidic environment would help to dissolve or shrink kidney stones, thereby making them easier to pass.
Moreover, it is also believed that its antioxidant properties in cranberry juice help to keep the kidneys clean, to prevent kidney stones formation.
Can cranberry juice prevent kidney stones?
Not really. Instead, cranberry juice could increase your risk of developing calcium oxalate and uric acid stones.
Cranberry juice can help to prevent brushite kidney stones, due to its effect in lowering urine pH levels4. However, brushite kidney stones are also one of the least common forms of kidney stones5! If you do not have a history of forming brushite stones, chances are, cranberry juice will not be beneficial to your efforts at kidney stone prevention at all.
Instead, you may want to consider limiting your intake of cranberry juice!
Cranberry juice contains high amounts of oxalate, a compound that mixes with calcium to create calcium oxalate stones – the most common type of kidney stones5. In a study of 24 kidney stone formers, daily consumption of cranberry juice led to increased urinary calcium and oxalate, which contributes to calcium oxalate stone formation.
Ditch the cranberry juice! At best, it may work for UTIs, but not for your kidney stones. Stay hydrated with water instead – it’s cheaper, and less likely to increase your risks of forming recurrent kidney stones.
González de Llano, D., Moreno-Arribas, M. V., & Bartolomé, B. (2020). Cranberry Polyphenols and prevention against urinary tract infections: Relevant considerations. Molecules, 25(15), 3523. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules25153523
Kinney, A. B., & Blount, M. (1979). Effect of carnberry juice on urinary pH. Nursing Research, 28(5). https://doi.org/10.1097/00006199-197909000-00012
Jackson, B., & Hicks, L. E. (1997). Effect of cranberry juice on urinary pH in older adults. Home Healthcare Nurse: The Journal for the Home Care and Hospice Professional, 15(3), 199–202. https://doi.org/10.1097/00004045-199703000-00007
Frassetto, L., & Kohlstadt, I. (2011). Treatment and prevention of kidney stones: an update. American family physician, 84(11), 1234-1242.
- Coe, F. (n.d.). Kidney Stone Types. Kidney Stone Evaluation And Treatment Program. Retrieved April 26, 2022, from https://kidneystones.uchicago.edu/kidney-stone-types/