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Drinking Tart Cherry Juice: Does It Really Help Joint Pain?

Recent research suggests drinking a glass of tart cherry juice might help defuse arthritis pain. Researchers from Michigan State University found anthocyanins, the same chemicals that give tart cherries their color, may have more powerful anti-inflammatory effects than aspirin. It's still unknown whether this might translate into pain relief for arthritis patients in the real world

The Research

In this study (Journal of Natural Products, 1999), researchers used the equivalent of 20 tart cherries. They found anthocyanins in the tart cherries inhibited two enzymes, COX-1 and COX-2, that play a role in the body's production of prostaglandins, natural chemicals involved in inflammation. This process to block inflammation is similar to the effects of aspirin and traditional nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and naproxen. Tart cherries are also good sources of antioxidants, substances which destroy the damaging molecules thought to contribute to many diseases, including arthritis.

Other fruits, berries, and vegetables may contain substantial amounts of similar substances as well. According to lead researcher Muralee Nair, Ph.D., both cherries and blueberries, for example, contain potent antioxidants. However, Nair found that the inflammation-blocking activity of tart cherries was considerably greater. It's still unknown how sweet cherries would stack up.

The Issues

One caveat is research in humans has not yet been done to determine whether cherries will actually relieve arthritis symptoms outside the lab. "The Arthritis Foundation does not see any harm in eating cherries for antioxidant protection, but does not believe there is enough proven clinical evidence to suggest that eating cherries is beneficial for reducing the pain and inflammation associated with arthritis," says John Klippel, M.D., the foundation's medical director.

If you still want to give tart cherries a try, there is also the question of how to consume them. The raw cherries are tart and cooking destroys many of the beneficial compounds. So, eating a slice of cherry pie won't do. Another option is tart cherry juice. According to the Cherry Marketing Institute, an 8-ounce glass of cherry juice contains the equivalent of about 100 cherries.

How can Montmorency Tart Cherry Stop my Arthritis Pain?

The body produces enzymes Cyclooxygenase -1 and -2 (commonly known as COX 1 and COX 2), in response to a variety of conditions, giving rise to inflammation in tissues and joints. This inflammation is the cause of intense pain in many Arthritis and Gout sufferers.

Drugs, such as aspirin and ibuprofen (known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, [NSAIDs]), work by inhibiting the COX enzymes. Unfortunately, patients taking these types of pain medication regularly, may suffer side effects, including upset stomachs, vomiting, kidney damage or ulcers.

Researchers at Michigan State University were among the first to identify the presence of three powerful anthocyanins and bioflavonoids in tart cherries. These function in the same manner as NSAIDs and can inhibit both COX enzymes. However, research also shows that flavonoids can protect against stomach damage, unlike their NSAID counterparts and may therefore prevent the unwanted symptoms of NSAIDs.

Many arthritis sufferers are turning to tart cherry products, such as Montmorency Tart Cherry Concentrate as an all-natural alternative to help combat their painful conditions.

How can Montmorency Tart Cherry Stop Gout Attacks?

Gout is an excruciatingly painful form of arthritis, whereby a build up of uric acid in the bloodstream gives rise to the deposit of microscopic, needle-like crystals of sodium urate in tissues and joints, causing an inflammatory reaction and severe pain.

The increase in blood uric acid results from increased purine intake (purines are precursors of uric acid), or increased production, or from decreased uric acid elimination by the kidneys, or a combination of all these. In most (75%-90%) people with gout, clearance of uric acid by the kidney is significantly reduced.

A well-cited, recent, research study at the University of California has demonstrated that cherry consumption lowers plasma urate levels. The study concludes that the decrease in plasma urate after cherry consumption supports the anti-gout reputation of cherries.

Pain Relief Never Tasted So Good!

By Tina Miller, MS RD
Nutrition lecturer, Dietetics Department
Eastern Michigan University

Look at the person to your left, then to your right - chances are good that one of you battles arthritis pain every day. According to a recent survey, 70 million (one in three) Americans suffer from some form of joint disease, including osteoarthritis and gout. Pain from arthritis reduces mobility and quality of life. In fact, arthritis can be more than pain in your joints - it can be a pain in the wallet too! Americans spend over $1 billion every year on alternative therapies to alleviate the symptoms of arthritis.

Unfortunately, there is no cure. However, there are reasonable natural, and even flavorful, methods to managing your arthritis or gout pain. Research has taught us that inflammation associated with arthritic disorders is the chief cause of discomfort. Foods that decrease inflammation can reduce the pain associated with arthritis. In particular, the Montmorency tart cherry is a leader among foods that possess anti-inflammatory properties. Bioactive anthocyanins (pigments) present in tart cherries are the powerhouses that help relieve inflammation. As an added bonus, these same anthocyanins may significantly reduce your risk for colon cancer, the third leading cancer in America.

How much do you need? While there is no set "prescription" for the use of tart cherries, most people benefit from consuming two tablespoons of tart cherry juice concentrate daily. If you're on a low-acid diet, you can still use cherry juice concentrate, just be sure to consume it in combination with other foods, or at the end of a meal. Frozen and dried tart cherries are also effective for relieving arthritis and gout pain. The key is consistency. Make consumption of tart cherries part of your healthy eating plan everyday.

With all the wonderful benefits provided by tart cherries why wait?

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If a condition persists, please contact your physician. The information provided by this website or this company is not a substitute for a face-to-face consultation with your physician, and should not be construed as individual medical advice. The testimonials on this website are individual cases and do not guarantee that you will get the same results.

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