What Do Cranberry Pills Do for You, and Is It OK to Take Them Every Day?

  • Medical Reviewer: Mahammad Juber, MD
Medically Reviewed on 8/25/2022

What are cranberry pills?

Cranberry pills are made from cranberry fruit dried and crushed into powder form. Cranberry pills are good for UTIs, heart and gut health, and while they are generally safe it is unknown if they are safe to take long-term.
Cranberry pills are made from cranberry fruit dried and crushed into powder form. Cranberry pills are good for UTIs, heart and gut health, and while they are generally safe it is unknown if they are safe to take long-term.

The cranberry is an evergreen shrub that has dark green leaves, pink flowers, and dark red fruit that we consume and generally refer to as cranberries. 

The cranberry fruit is small and egg-shaped. It is widely used for certain health benefits, like the prevention of urinary tract infections (UTIs). To serve this and other functions, cranberry fruit can be dried and crushed to be made into small tablets or capsules, which are called cranberry pills. 

Cranberry pills are made from cranberry fruit dried and crushed into powder form. The pills come in small tablets or capsules for ease of swallowing. Cranberry pills are dietary supplements and offer an easier way to gain the benefits that the cranberry fruit has to bring. 

People rarely eat the fresh cranberry fruit because of its sour and harsh flavor. This has resulted in a wide variety of cranberry products, including cranberry pills. 

Some cranberry pills may also contain other ingredients that further act as dietary supplements. These ingredients may be vitamin C or probiotics. The capsules or tablets typically contain 200 to 500 mg of dried cranberry. These pills are widely available in drugstores and online. 

Cranberry pills may help with urinary tract infections

It’s been long said that drinking cranberry juice can help with UTIs. Many studies throughout the years have supported this connection, and new research has shed light on the effectiveness of cranberry products on both preventing and treating UTIs. 

It’s now more widely believed that cranberry products work better at preventing UTIs before they occur than treating UTIs after there’s already an infection. This is due to compounds in cranberries that help keep bacteria that cause infections from sticking to the urinary tract. 

One study shows that cranberry fruit powder may reduce the risk of symptomatic UTI in women with a history of recurring UTIs. Cranberry pills have also been shown to be effective in helping young people who have recurrent UTIs. 

In another study with vulnerable older people living in long-term care facilities, taking cranberry pills twice daily reduced some symptoms of UTI. There was no significant difference for people with low UTI risk. This shows that cranberry pills do help with UTI prevention, but the effects are mild, and results vary depending on individual characteristics. 

In specific cases where people have neuropathic bladder, which is the loss of bladder control following a spinal cord injury (SCI), cranberry pills have not been found to be effective. 

Cranberry pills may improve heart health

Many studies have been conducted on cranberry to assess its ability to help with chronic conditions like high cholesterol and cardiovascular diseases (CVD). Cranberries are known to be high in polyphenols, which are antioxidants that neutralize free radicals that can be harmful to your body. One study showed that drinking a cranberry beverage daily for eight weeks improved antioxidant levels and reduced cardiovascular factors. 

Compounds extracted from cranberries have shown to prevent and reduce the risks of cardiovascular diseases. Cranberries also help to protect against the oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), commonly known as “bad” cholesterol.  

Based on evidence gathered from more recent studies, berry products like cranberry pills could be a more natural alternative to lowering blood lipids in adults who are at risk of CVD. Adults can gain the benefits just by drinking two cups of low-calorie cranberry juice or by taking a half to one cup of whole berries every day. 

Cranberry pills may improve gut health

Cranberries contain a chemical compound called proanthocyanidin that is known to help prevent the formation of biofilm, which is a collection of microorganisms that grow on different surfaces. The formation of biofilms is the beginning of an infection. 

Many studies have found that cranberries also keep microbial species from sticking to the stomach, small intestine, and colon. This helps to promote a healthy gut microbiota, which functions to promote metabolism, maintain structural integrity, and protect against pathogens. Maintaining a healthy gut microbiota is important because that plays a critical role in the metabolism of food and body systems, including brain and immune functions. 

Cranberry compounds have been found to reduce diet-induced intestinal inflammation in animals. More research will have to be done, though, to see if humans will experience the same benefits. 

Cranberry pills may help with blood sugar management

Cranberries are high in polyphenols, and studies have shown that a high-polyphenol diet may reduce factors that lead to diabetes. One study showed an improvement in insulin sensitivity in individuals who are overweight, non-diabetic, and insulin-resistant. These individuals took 333 mg of polyphenols from strawberries and cranberries for six weeks over the course of the study.  

There is more evidence that suggests increasing polyphenol intakes from cranberries can lead to improved blood sugar control in individuals with type 2 diabetes

One study showed that plant-derived foods rich in polyphenols are associated with several cardiometabolic health benefits, such as reduced postprandial hyperglycemia. Postprandial hyperglycemia occurs when your blood sugar levels rise significantly after a meal. People with type 2 diabetes don’t secrete the amount of insulin needed to control the rise in blood sugar, and they therefore need insulin injections. Foods high in polyphenols, like cranberries, can similarly help people with diabetes maintain healthy blood sugar levels.


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Other potential benefits

Some other reported health benefits of cranberry pills include their promotion of oral health and ability to help with chronic conditions like cardiovascular diseases and even cancer

Cancer protection

Taking cranberry pills may help protect against cancer due to cranberries' ability to counteract oxidative stress and decrease inflammation. 

Healthier teeth and gums

Cranberry components have been shown to inhibit inflammatory responses and the production and activity of enzymes that cause biofilm formation. This means that cranberry pills may be taken to prevent and treat some oral diseases. 

Lower blood pressure

Previous studies with cranberry juice intake showed a potential benefit of lowering blood pressure. One study performed with healthy individuals and a low dose of polyphenol showed an improvement in blood pressure after eight weeks. Because different cranberry products are used in various studies with different results, more clinical studies with cranberry pills will be needed to further understand the full benefits. 

Helps with obesity and inflammation

Cranberry components may help with weight control and inflammation. An observational study found that polyphenol-containing beverages, like cranberry juice, helped with obesity and inflammation. Another study reported that adding a little bit of cranberry powder, like those used in cranberry pills, had positive effects on levels of serum lipids and antioxidant capacity in rodents. This means that components in cranberries like polyphenol may help with obesity and inflammation. 

Risks and side effects

It is generally safe to take cranberry products, as they have a record of safety and are not known to have significant herb-drug interactions. However, there is a lack of data regarding long-term use of cranberry products. 

One study found that taking cranberry products may increase the absorption of vitamin B12 in individuals with low stomach acid. For individuals taking medications such as antidepressants, taking cranberry products may decrease the effectiveness of these medications. 

Cranberry extracts contain a large amount of a chemical called oxalate. A small study found that taking cranberry extracts can thus lead to a significant rise in urinary oxalate levels. This can increase the risk of kidney stone formation, as kidney stones are made primarily from a combination of oxalate and calcium. Always consult with your doctor or healthcare provider if you’re thinking about long-term use of cranberry products, especially as individuals with a history of kidney stones. 

People who have aspirin allergies should be more careful when taking cranberry products, as cranberries contain a significant amount of salicylic acid, which is similar to aspirin. Individuals who have aspirin allergies or who are already taking aspirin regularly should consult with a healthcare professional before taking cranberry supplements or drinking cranberry juice in large amounts. 

Cranberry products may have some interactions with other medications you’re already taking. For individuals taking a blood thinner called warfarin (coumadin), cranberry may increase the risk of bleeding. Cranberries may also increase the amount of time that warfarin stays in your system.  


Cranberry pills are one type of cranberry product that makes it easier for you to enjoy the health benefits that cranberries bring. These health benefits include preventing UTIs, improving heart and gut health, and helping with blood sugar management. Cranberry extracts may also help with cancer protection, teeth and gum health, lower blood pressure, obesity, and inflammation. 

Cranberry products are generally safe to take for most people. Still, individuals with certain health conditions or those who are taking other medications should consult a healthcare professional before adding supplements. 

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Medically Reviewed on 8/25/2022

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