The question of whether or not cranberry juice helps to pass a drug test is a highly debated one today. If you’ve scoured the internet enough, you must have come across some sources that rubbish it as mere wishful thinking.
Still, others have dubbed it a magic drink claiming that it helped them in flushing their system. This is where it gets super confusing especially if you have a date with a drug screening company in a couple of days.
If it works, then this would be the easiest and the cheapest way of cheating the test considering that a bottle of cranberry goes for around five bucks in most grocery stores.
On the other hand, I (and probably you too) would never follow this advise bluntly especially if I want to get or keep a job or stay out of jail.
So, let’s get to the truth of this: Does Cranberry juice help to pass a drug test? If YES, is there any proven scientific data to support that?
Understanding the basics
What is cranberry juice?
This is the juice of a tart red fruit; cranberry. In the USA, cranberry is grown commercially in Massachusetts, New Jersey, Wisconsin, Oregon, and Washington.
In Canada, the major producing provinces are British Columbia and Quebec.
In its natural form, cranberry juice is low in sugar content and has an astringent taste. It’s, therefore considered unpalatable to consumers. To make it taste a little bit more appealing, manufacturers either blend it with other sweeter juices such as apple and grape juices or add artificial sweeteners.
Originally used for fighting UTIs
Cranberry juice has for long been used to prevent and help treat UTIs. To make one cup of pure cranberry juice, you’ll need approximately 8 ounces (248g) of cranberries. Research studies show that this juice is rich in salicylic acid (aspirin), Vitamin C, and antioxidants.
Courtenay Moore, MD, and Urologist at Cleveland Clinic says that while there’s little scientific data to support it, cranberry juice also has an active ingredient that can curb Escherichia coli (the most common cause of UTIs) from attaching itself to the bladder wall.
Worth noting, this juice is also classified as an acidic drink having a 2.3-2.5 pH level. According to WebMD, this makes urine alkaline further inhibiting E.coli from sticking to the cells on the urinary tract.
Cranberry Juice for Beating Drug Test: Claims Vs. Scientific Evidence
As I told you before, several claims purport the ability of cranberry juice to remove traces of cannabis and other drugs from the system.
The following section screens some of these claims against scientific report to see whether they hold water or not.
Claim 1: Contains Salicylic acid (Aspirin)
Salicylic acid is a colorless crystalline organic acid with the formula C7H6O3. This acid is commonly used in pharmaceuticals as a key ingredient in anti-acne and dandruff products. It’s also used to prevent blood clots and swelling and have antitumor effects too.
Here’s the meaty part of this.
Salicylic acid is a keratolytic and one of the key ingredients for making aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid). Taking aspirin some hours before taking a drug test has been known to mess up results by giving a false negative.
This is one of the reasons why most people think that cranberry juice can be used to pass a drug test.
Urban legend or True?
With all the available supporting evidence, we can’t deny the fact that ingesting aspirin can affect the outcome of a drug test. As these lab results by PubMed on the effects of aspirin on drug analysis indicate, a dose of aspirin can cause false-negative results for drug tests in urine.
There’s a catch to this though.
One thing that you need to understand before putting all your hopes on this method is that it only yields good results in Enzyme Multiplied Immunoassay Technique (EMIT) drug tests. These types of tests are easy to carry out and the cheapest for most drug screening companies to administer.
The issue is that EMIT tests are not so common today. What this means is that this method may not be of much help not unless you are darn sure that it will be an EMIT.
Again, most companies are now much cleverer than they were a couple of decades ago. They are, therefore, aware of the increased rates of adulteration. Since they are on business (and have a reputation to protect), they might put you on another type of test besides EMIT to ensure that you are not trying to beat the test willfully.
In most scenarios, they will test for the pH levels of your urine to ascertain that they are within the normal limits. Most companies today have also started to test for substances that are not commonplace in urine but are known to be used by most people in a bid to beat a test.
But what’s even more worrying is that most laboratories today have come up with techniques to detect metabolites whether you have taken aspirin or not.
Another catch with this method is the amount of cranberry juice that you’ll need to take to consume. When using aspirin to create a false negative in a drug test, it’s recommended to take four pills (amounting to 1300mg) 4 to 6 hours before the test.
The issue here is that a cup of cranberry juice has very small amounts of the acetylsalicylic acid a.k. Aspirin. Thus, although it’s not defined, I bet you’ll need to take several gallons of this juice to meet the requirement which is close to impossible.
Error: Tampering detected
As I have just told you, drug testing systems have never been so sophisticated. There are lots of protocols in place that will raise a red flag in case an error is detected in your urine.
Three things are possible in case of an error in reading;
- You may be required to take another test
- It may trigger a false positive
While there’s a likelihood of getting lucky by scoring a pass, the chances are negligible.
The ability of the latest laboratories to detect aspirin in urine makes this claim an urban legend and very unreliable. Again, the probability of falling for a false positive makes it a risk not worth taking.
Claim 2: Cranberry juice is diuretic
Also known as a water pill, a diuretic is a medication that increases the amount of water, salt, and toxins that are flushed out of your system.
Diuretics are used in the treatment of blood pressure and congestive heart failure. While most of them exist in the form of over-the-counter medications, there are several natural diuretics including cranberries.
The key benefit of using cranberry juice as a diuretic is that it does not have most of the drawbacks that most prescribed diuretics do. For instance, unlike OTC medications, cranberry juice does not alter with the amount of potassium in your body.
So, how does cranberry juice help you pass a drug test as a diuretic?
When used as a diuretic, cranberry juice works in the same manner as water, coffee, or tea by minimizing the concentration of the available metabolites in the urine sample.
As Betsy Foxman, Epidemiologist, Michigan School of Public Health puts it when speaking to NY Times, in drinking cranberry juice, you are simply diluting.
Dilution is among the most popular methods of cheating a drug test. The good news here is that taking water and most natural diuretics is legal. Thus, you can take as much as it is required to meet the required threshold that guarantees a pass in a urine test.
Mind you; it’s also advisable to take several cups of water even if you’ve not taken drugs to minimize the risk of a false positive.
As good as taking cranberry juice as diuretic sounds, do know that this comes with its set of challenges as well.
For instance, taking an obscene amount of liquid not only dilutes the metabolites in the urine, but it also alters the pH level of your urine.
This could alert the lab technician thereby making you a candidate for a repeat specimen. If it’s evident that you’ve tried to adulterate the urine, there’s a high chance of going for a second observed sample.
You could also be putting your life in great danger since taking too much liquid may cause hyponatremia. This is a condition when there are abnormally low levels of sodium in your blood. As an electrolyte, sodium helps in controlling the movement of water in and out of the cells.
Electrolyte imbalance may lead to confusion, nausea, fatigue, drowsiness, headache, and loss of energy.
Of course, the last thing that you want to do when taking a drug test is appearing sickly before the lab technician. Therefore, you might want to control the amount of cranberry juice that you take.
It’s undeniable that cranberry juice can help you pass a drug test when used as a diuretic. However, it’s important to be aware of the associated health risks and the likelihood of making the lab technician suspicious.
As you dilute the concentration of THC in the urine, remember to boost the levels of creatinine in the urine by eating lots of red meat a day or two before the test. You’ll also want to take 100mg of vitamin B or B12 to give your urine its natural yellow glow.
Claim 3: Contains Niacin
This is yet another popular reason that most people give to support their claim of cranberry juice’s ability to help pass a drug test.
Niacin is a medical name for what we commonly call Vitamin B3. This is an important water-soluble vitamin that helps the body to convert food into energy.
It also has several other important roles in the body including maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system and boosting brain function.
About flushing metabolites from the body, the layperson believes that niacin promotes the breakdown of fat.
This isn’t true. While niacin is involved in the catabolism of dietary fat, remember that it only converts fat into energy but does not speed up your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR).
Other challenges that arise with the use of niacin to clean flush your system is the amount required. The thing with niacin is that it is only effective when used at high doses.
As I have explained in the Niacin method, a typical regimen for this technique requires the ingestion of between 500mg and 2000mg of niacin each day plus several gallons of water for a couple of weeks before the screening date.
These are extremely dangerous amounts that you should never treat yourself to. As WebMD explains, consuming a high amount of niacin could lead to several health risks including stomach ulcers, high and low blood pressure, liver and kidney disease, and diabetes.
Again, the time that niacin takes to deliver positive results makes it downright ineffective since most people learn of an upcoming drug testing exercise only a few days (or even hours) earlier.
Oh, and there’s a negligible amount of niacin in cranberry juice. There is approximately 0.04g of niacin in 100g of cranberry juice. Can you imagine the amount of juice that you need to force down your throat to attain the minimum required dosage of 500g?
Most people have for long believed in the ability of niacin to help cheat a drug test. Worth mentioning is that taking niacin dosages in a well-spaced regimen 3 or more days before the test has shown positive results 80% of the time.
Unfortunately, there isn’t any formal scientific data to substantiate whether it’s niacin or the high amount of water that one has to take during this time that contributes to the positive results.
Again, considering the low level of niacin in cranberry juice plus the high risk of overhydration, I would only recommend this method if you have quite a good number of days or weeks before the test.
Claim 4: It helps natural detoxification by boosting fat metabolism
Most people tout cranberry juice as ideal for weight loss arguing that it boosts the process of burning fat thereby leading to weight loss.
The truth is that similar to any other type of juice, cranberry juice is full of sugars and won’t help you burn fat. There isn’t any magic here.
It’s worth noting that what we have today is simply a small portion of real cranberry juice topped up with high amounts of artificial sweeteners. This is to mean that the juice won’t assist in any way in burning fat but might add more sugars into your body.
As a side note, burning unwanted fat is an excellent way of putting diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart attacks (among other diseases) at bay.
However, there’s no guarantee that a rapid fat metabolism will lead to a higher THC metabolism. There isn’t any relationship between these two considering that THC metabolism occurs mostly in the liver.
It’s also worth mentioning here that while most THC and other metabolites are stored in the fat, they are not trapped there.
On the contrary, they can move freely depending on the concentration gradient. This means that burning of fat does not necessarily lead to the release of THC metabolites.
Drinking cranberry juice with the notion that it will help with natural detoxification is simply a myth. If anything, drinking too much of it only adds too much sugar into your system which is not wise if you are trying to beat a test. This is because the body might convert excess sugars into more fat thereby creating additional storage for more THC.
Claim 5: Contains Zinc (Zinc can lead to false negative)
It’s true that cranberry juice contains zinc albeit in small amounts. 1 cup (253g) of this juice typically has approximately 0.25mg.
The ingestion of zinc as a way of triggering false-negative test results is the current craze. Several online resources (Norml) argue that when ingested, zinc bonds with THC metabolites. They argue that this makes the metabolites too large to pass through the kidneys and are thereby rerouted to feces.
This seems like a trump card for many drug users since most drug screening companies are interested in the urine.
Unfortunately, most of the newest research reports including this 2013 post in the Journal for Analytical Toxicology show that zinc can only interfere with results only if used as an adulterant (added directly into the urine).
This study also states that the dosage should be 5,000 higher the normal amount of zinc in urine. But what should hold you back from trying out this method is that laboratories now have ways of detecting zinc in urine.
This PubMed paper of 2013 state that while it’s possible to invalidate a positive urine drug test by adding zinc sulfate, there are novel spot tests that have been developed to detect the availability of this substance in urine.
There is hard evidence to prove that zinc sulfate can be used to compromise a drug screen test. But there’s also enough proof to show that ingesting zinc won’t mask the THC metabolites in your urine. This makes this claim simply a myth and, therefore, not reliable.