Tart Cherry Extract: A Natural Option For Gout Relief
You are suffering from pain and inflammation in your feet, most notably in your big toe. This pain can be moderate to severe and come on suddenly, wracking you with hot, stinging sensations.
You are experiencing the symptoms of gout. This is called podagra. In Greek, podagra means foot trap. Now you know what this feels like it feels as though your big toe has been caught in a steel trap.
How can you find relief? Lets look at what gout is and how you can fight its symptoms naturally with tart cherry extract.
How Cherries May Help Prevent Gout
Scientists know that cherries contain high levels of antioxidants, including anthocyanins and quercetin, as well as other nutrients. It is unclear how these nutrients may work individually or together to lower urate levels and decreases the chance of a gout attack.
Some researchers2 theorize that cherries:
- Have anti-inflammatory properties that may reduce the painful inflammation related to gout attacks
- May help counteract the process that leads to changes in bones in gout-affected joints
- Reduce oxidative stress , which is associated with gout
Experts suspect that oxidative stress in the body begins a biochemical cascade that promotes inflammation, which over time leads to gout and other degenerative diseases.
More researchparticularly large studies involving human subjectsis needed to find out exactly if and how cherries prevent gout attacks.
See Gout Prevention
How Does Cherry Juice Treat Gout
Cherry juice treats gout flare-ups by reducing the level of uric acid in the body. Since uric acid buildup is what causes gout, it only goes to reason that cherry juice could prevent or treat gout flare-ups.
A 2011 study noted that 100 percent tart cherry juice significantly reduced the level of serum uric acid levels in participants who drank 8 ounces of the juice every day for four weeks.
Its not only cherry juice that could lower uric acid levels cherry juice concentrate can also be beneficial for those with gout.
A 2012 pilot study found that consuming cherry juice concentrate lowered the levels of uric acid in the body. One portion of the study demonstrated that cherry extract was more effective than pomegranate concentrate at lowering uric acid levels.
A retrospective portion of the study found that when consumed for a four-month period or longer, cherry juice concentrate reduced gout flare-ups significantly.
An online survey directed at people with gout also suggested cherry intake can improve symptoms. Of the survey respondents, 43 percent said that they used cherry extract or juice to treat their gout symptoms. The survey found that those who used cherry supplements reported significantly fewer flare-ups.
Of course, this study is limited because it relies on the subjects to report their own symptoms. Even so, the results are promising.
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This Supplement Has Been Used In Connection With The Following Health Conditions:
Used for 2 StarsInsomnia18 ounces up to twice daily for seven days Tart cherries contain a small amount of the sleep-regulating hormone melatonin and may improve some measures of sleep quality.Tart cherries contain a small amount of the sleep-regulating hormone melatonin. In a double-blind trial, healthy young people took one ounce daily of a tart cherry juice concentrate, estimated to contain the equivalent of 90-100 tart cherries, for seven days, which resulted in increased urine levels of melatonin and improvement in several measures of sleep quality. In a double-blind study of older people with insomnia, drinking eight ounces twice daily of a cherry-apple juice blend , estimated to be equivalent to 100 cherries per day, for seven days resulted in small improvements in some measures of sleep quality.
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Will Tart Cherry Juice Help Alone Or Should You Consult A Doctor
If you have gout, it is always prudent and wise to visit a doctor. Your doctor will ask you questions about your lifestyle, food consumption, and symptoms to make the diagnosis. You will also be asked to go in for a blood test in order to ascertain the blood uric acid levels in your body. Once diagnosed, you could be asked to modify your diet, have medicines and use hot and cold compressions. If your doctor has asked you to strictly modify your diet, consuming tart cherry juice alone will not help relieve you of your symptoms. The ideal thing would be to consume tart cherry juice daily along with a treatment plan from your doctor. It will help to reduce the blood uric acid levels and inflammation in the joints.
Cherry Juice For Gout
Gout is a chronic form of inflammatory arthritis caused by the build-up of uric acid crystals in the joints and tissues , causing severe pain, redness, and tenderness. Traditional treatment often includes medications, self-care, as well as avoiding trigger foods.
With the small number of participants in these few studies and the short-term follow-up, along with the mixed results, larger long-term studies are warranted to clarify the effects of tart cherry juice in people with gout.
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How Tart Cherry Extract Provides Relief
For those suffering from gout, you may find relief with the power of tart cherries . In fact, studies suggest that about 25% of people with gout use these and want to avoid problems with pharmaceuticals. Tart cherries have been noted for their aid in alleviating symptoms of gout thanks to their rich antioxidant content and anti-inflammatory powers.
These small fruits help to alleviate inflammation, a key element of a gout attack.
Scientists believe that part of the reason cherries might work is that they increase the excretion of urate and also limit the production of uric acid in the liver. The abundant urate crystals in those with gout stimulate the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines.
Cherry counteracts this problem and also protects the body and joints by providing good antioxidant coverage. This is an excellent non pharmacological option for the treatment of many of the problems associated with gout.
Tart cherries have many phytochemicals that help, but cyanidin is the most prevalent compound. These nutrient-rich cherries help to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in the body and may even help to offset the effect of gout on the bones and joints.
Reach for a bowl of fresh Montmorency cherries, a glass of sugar-free tart cherry juice, or a tart cherry supplement to stay on top of your symptoms. Tart cherries are not just for good gout but also insomnia, muscle pain, and over-exertion, and they offer an excellent way to help the body recover.
What Is The Theory Behind It
Cherries contain anthocyanins, which are the compounds that give cherries their color.
One 2019 article notes that anthocyanins possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that may be useful when treating the symptoms of gout.
Anthocyanins interfere with the oxidation process and remove free radicals.
Montmorency tart cherry skins contain high amounts of antioxidants. Tart cherry juice concentrate appears to be effective at absorbing free radicals.
Although the symptoms of gout occur due to an inflammatory response, existing research into whether or not the anti-inflammatory effects of cherry juice are effective in treating gout appears to be limited.
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If Your Joints Hurt Tart Cherry Juice Can Provide Some Relief
People who suffer from joint pain, osteoarthritis, or gout may find particular benefits from tart cherries. In fact, the use of tart cherry juice for gout and arthritis relief is a word-of-mouth remedy that dates back nearly a century, as many pain sufferers have cited feeling less acute pain after eating canned tart cherries or drinking tart cherry juice. This possible connection was first formally studied in 1950 when, after eating a can of tart or yellow cherries a day, 12 arthritis and gout sufferers displayed lower blood levels of uric acid.
“Increased uric acid in the blood is what has been found to lead to very painful episodes of a gout attack,” says Toby Amidor, RD, and author of The Family Immunity Cookbook. A preliminary study found that eating about 2 cups of fresh pitted cherries after an overnight fast showed a 15% reduction in uric acid levels in healthy women. Other research has indicated similar reductions in markers of joint pain after participants drank the equivalent of 8 to 10.5 ounces of tart cherry juiceeither as diluted concentrate or 100% tart cherry juicetwice daily in studies ranging from two to 21 days.
Bottom Line: The Main Reason To Drink Tart Cherry Juice
In McHugh’s opinion, after having studied the impact of tart cherries in many different ways, the main reason he would recommend consistent use of tart cherry juice is the benefit of accelerated recovery during a strenuous season or period of exercise.
He and Amidor also point out that the consistent factor across nearly all of these studies is the benefit of tart cherry juice for inflammation improvements. “Many of the studies have to do with a reduction in inflammation,” Amidor says. “The antioxidants found in tart cherries and tart cherry juice certainly can help decrease inflammation.”
But for heart health in particular, Amidor says not to lean too heavily on any one thing. “The cumulative effect of eating a heart-healthy diet along with regular physical activity and weight loss is really what is needed to provide heart health benefits,” she says. “Consuming tart cherry juice should be done, if desired, in addition to everything else.”
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Benefits For Arthritis Patients
Arthritis is an inflammatory condition of the joints. Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. The breakdown of cartilage in one or more joints leads to further inflammation, pain, stiffness, and limited range of motion. There are limited recent clinical trials studying tart cherry juice and its effect on osteoarthritis. We summarize two small randomized, double-blind studies below.
Additional larger studies are needed to confirm the effectiveness of tart cherry juice as a complementary treatment for osteoarthritis.
How Much Cherry Juice Should You Drink
As McHugh points out, it’s not just that we have strong evidence that we can benefit from tart cherry juice for arthritis, inflammation, pain relief, recovery, and sleep. “The key is that we know how many cherries you need to eat to have medicinal effects,” he says. That medicinal amount is 16 ounces, or two 8-ounce bottles, of 100% fresh tart cherry juice a day, which is the equivalent of eating 100 tart cherries. “That dose has been used to good effect in multiple studies,” McHugh says. He adds, “In practice, if taking the drink habitually, one bottle may suffice.”
And what about eating, say, a 1-cup serving of fresh or frozen tart cherries, or a ¼-cup serving of dried tart cherries, or taking a daily cherry extract supplement? While you would gain some of the anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and melatonin effects from any of these forms, McHugh says you wouldn’t get enough to reach the efficacious dose used in these studies.
If the benefits of tart cherry juice intrigue you, the good news is that one or two 8-ounce servings a day isn’t an outrageous amount. “Comparatively, people often talk about the health benefits of the antioxidant resveratrol in red wine,” McHugh says, “but one would need to drink more than 100 bottles of red wine a day to get sufficient resveratrol to see medicinal effects.” And there’s not a health professional out there who would recommend that.
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You May Sleep Better After Drinking Tart Cherry Juice
Does tart cherry juice help you sleep? That’s the question professional athletes were asking McHugh shortly after they started drinking it. “The athletes were experiencing better sleep and were themselves attributing it to the tart cherry juice,” says McHugh, who has been a consultant for the New York Rangers NHL hockey team since 2000. That observation led to multiple studies showing a positive connection between regular use of tart cherry juice and longer, better rest with less insomnia. Tart cherries are one of the few food sources that contain a significant amount of melatonin and “the presumption was that the high levels of melatonin in tart cherries were a sleep aid,” McHugh says.
While studies did show that tart cherries increased melatonin levels in humans, McHugh points out that tart cherries also have an anti-inflammatory effect, which could be another reason the crimson juice can help you catch some Zs. “The dose of melatonin in tart cherry juice is the primary reason it’s helpful for sleep, but the magnesium content and anti-inflammatory properties are important too,” says Karman Meyer, RDN, and author of Eat To Sleep: What To Eat & When To Eat It for a Good Night’s Sleep . “That’s the wonderful thing about nutrient-rich foodsthere’s an entourage effect, meaning the whole food is greater than the sum of its parts.”
Tart Cherry Juice For Gout Dosage And Precautions
While studies recommend consuming 8 ounces of diluted sour cherry juice twice a day for 2-4 weeks for relief from gout, some experts also recommend drinking one glass of tart cherry juice for gout per day.
The right dose of sour cherry juice depends on factors such as the patientâs age, health, and co-morbid medical conditions. Some doctors recommend there is not enough scientific information to determine appropriate doses for sour cherry juice. Natural products can vary in potency.
If you want to add tart cherries to your diet, you can add these dwarf cherries to fruit salad or yogurt. Blend cherries or tart cherry juice into a smoothie or shake, too.
Remember that while tart cherry juice for gout can help in reducing symptoms, it should not replace prescribed medications. Numerous medicines to treat gout include anti-inflammatory drugs, medicines to reduce pain, corticosteroids, and medicines to reduce or eliminate uric-acid buildup in the body.
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How Much Of Tart Cherry Juice Should You Consume For Gout
At a 2010 annual meeting of the European League Against Rheumatism, researchers at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Brunswick, New Jersey, presented a retrospective study comprising 24 patients. As a part of the study, each of the patients was given a tablespoon of liquid tart cherry extract, which is equal to 45 to 60 cherries, twice daily over a period of four months. At the end of the period, it was noted that there was nearly a 50 percent fall in the occurrence of gout among these patients. However, more information is needed to ascertain the right time to consume tart cherry juice during the day or whether it is more helpful when had with or without the consumption of food.
What Are The Potential Side Effects
Unless youre allergic to cherries, its unlikely that youll have an adverse reaction. However, its important to eat everything in moderation and cherries are no exception. Its possible to have diarrhea if you drink too much cherry juice or eat too many cherries.
How much is too much cherry juice? Thats hard to say, as it depends on your own digestive system. As mentioned, one glass a day should be enough to treat gout without producing any side effects. If you have any adverse reactions, make a note of them and speak to a healthcare provider about it.
If you want to add more cherries into your diet, you can do so in a number of different ways. You can:
- drink tart cherry juice
- add cherries to yogurt or fruit salad
- blend cherries or cherry juice up in a smoothie
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When To Contact A Doctor
A person should contact a doctor if they experience any symptoms of gout.
The doctor may be able to diagnose gout by using a blood test to look at a persons uric acid levels and kidney function. They may also require a sample of fluid from the inflamed joints to look for uric acid crystals.
According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases , having gout may make a person more likely to develop other conditions or complications, such as those that affect the heart and kidneys.
As a result, it is important to talk with a doctor to help manage the symptoms of gout.