Renal Effects

Ammoniacal fermentation, or alkalinization and decomposition of urine, is responsible for the foul odor of urine (4). The results of one study (4) found that a single dose of 16 oz of cranberry juice lowered the urine pH of six men with chronic urinary tract disorders, and decreased ammoniacal odor and turbidity. The urine pH of five of six men free of urinary tract infections was also lowered with this dose. In another study (5), hospital personnel noted a decrease in urine odor in the geriatric wards of a nursing home, but a change in urine pH or change in ammonia levels in the air could not be detected. Other subjective comments by nursing home personnel included a decrease in complaints among patients who had experienced burning upon urination, and more frequent voiding.

Another potential effect of the use of cranberry is in the management of calculus formation because of the association between alkalinization of the urine and stone formation (7-9,16). A specially prepared sweetened cranberry juice consisting of 80% juice was administered to 41 people who were randomly assigned to ingest 150, 180, 210, or 240 mL of the juice with each meal for 1 week (25). Each subject served as his or her own control. Urine pH was measured by the subjects at each voiding, and a urine sample was collected daily after the evening meal. Mean urine pH was decreased to a statistically significant extent with cranberry juice ingestion compared to baseline. The decrease was not dose-related. Cranberry juice had some effect in lowering daily fluctuations in urine pH, but this effect again was not dose-related. The effect of cranberry juice on urine pH persisted throughout the experimental period (i.e., the kidney did not compensate for changes in pH). Side effects included weight gain and increased frequency of bowel movements.

In another study of cranberry's effect on urinary pH (20), two 6-oz servings of cranberry juice daily for 20 days were able to lower urinary pH more than orange juice in eight patients with multiple sclerosis, but were unable to lower pH consistently to below 5.5.

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