While most people infected with Helicobacter pylori do not show any symptoms, those that do may struggle with abdominal pain, nausea, and appetite changes, among other symptoms. If left untreated, a H. pylori infection may lead to peptic ulcers and even gastric cancers.1
Mostly known for their role in preventing urinary tract infections, cranberries have potent antibacterial abilities, thanks to their proanthocyanidin content. Since H. pylori infections are treated with antibiotics, cranberries' natural properties could render them useful as an alternative treatment.
The purpose of this double-blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled trial was to assess the effects of cranberry juice on H. pylori infections.
Researchers from Peking University conducted this clinical trial on 189 adults with H. pylori infection. They shared their findings in the Helicobacter journal.
For a period of 90 days, half of the participants drank 250 mL of cranberry juice twice a day, while the other half drank the placebo beverage (which contained vitamin C, sugar, and cranberry coloring and flavoring).
Before, during, and after the trial, participants underwent the 13C-urea breath test, which is used to detect H. pylori infections.
All 189 participants tested positive for H. pylori at the beginning of the study. After 90 days, 14.43% of the cranberry juice participants tested negative for H. pylori, in comparison to 5.44% in the placebo group.
Smaller but already significant improvements were seen at the 35-day check-up, with 11.34% of the participants testing negative on the 13-C-urea breath test.
What Does this Mean?
It was the first clinical trial to demonstrate that cranberry juice may help treat H. pylori infections. These promising findings could give rise to new treatment approaches, without the side effects of the antibiotics.
Researchers call for additional studies to better understand the mechanism behind cranberries' beneficial effects as well as the exact compounds responsible for them. Since this study was sponsored by a cranberry juice manufacturer, there is a potential conflict of interest to consider.
- Helicobacter, Efficacy of cranberry juice on Helicobacter pylori infection: a double-blind, randomized placebo-controlled trial, 2005
- Clinical Microbiology Reviews. (2010). Helicobacter pylori and Gastric Cancer: Factors That Modulate Disease Risk. Retrieved February 10, 2022 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2952980/