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Cherries Against Joint Pain

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Q. I have heard that sour cherry juice can ward off gout attacks and help relieve arthritis pain. I cannot tolerate drugs like ibuprofen because of a sensitive stomach. When I asked my pharmacist about non-drug options he was clueless. Have you ever heard of cherries against pain?

A. Some data suggest that sweet cherries have anti-inflammatory activity that might be helpful against both gout and arthritic conditions (Journal of Nutrition; June, 2003 and April, 2006).
Both sweet and sour cherries block an enzyme (COX 2) that is active in inflammation (Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Feb. 2009). One reader reported, "I have used tart cherry juice for over one year now and I am PAIN FREE! I had a hip replaced and then pain started flaring up in the other one. I also have moderate arthritis in my knees, which would throb at night. I took tart cherry juice every morning and saw results after the third week."

There is more information about cherries for both gout and arthritis, along with many other natural approaches, in our book Favorite Home Remedies From The People's Pharmacy.
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I have had very good success using dried cherries to prevent gout. I am 73 years old and began having gout attacks, mostly in my left foot, about 20 years ago. This really amazed me because I was not on a "rich man's diet", rarely eating meat or rich foods. Abstaining from alcohol and trying to eliminate all foods containing purines did not work. My uric acid results were high so my doctor started me on 200 mg. of Allopurinol.

This was quite slow in being effective, so the doctor wanted me to increase to 400 mg. I did not agree to do that and about the same time learned that my liver function tests were abnormal. The doctor then advised me to discontinue the Allopurinol although he was adamant in stating that the drug did not cause the liver function problems.

I had heard about the benefits of eating dried cherries and decided to give it a try, and also increased my water intake to 3 quarts per day. I have not had an attack of gout for about 3 years. I buy the cherries at Costco. They are Montmorency whole dried tart cherries produced by Stoneridge Orchards. (Information on one website states that some types of cherries are more effective than others.) I put 15 of them on my cereal each morning. The good results could be due to the combination of the cherries and increased water in-take, or maybe either one would work in isolation, but I'm not going to mess with success.

About twice a year my husband comes down with a case of gout. It is very painful but we have discovered that if we give him cherry tablets, cherry juice and whole cherries it seems to go away. He will not go to the doctor so I had to find something and this seems that it works.

I have just been giving them to him when he gets an attack, but I have decided that this time I am going to keep giving them to him all the time.

At 39, my brother had knots come up on his shins, and swelling in ankles and knees, along with pain so excruciating he could barely walk. He had labs drawn and his uric acid levels were extremely high and the MD diagnosed it
as gout.

He couldn't afford the traditional medicines, so he took pure cherry extract (found at homeopathic stores). Within three days, the knots and pain disappeared, and his uric acid had come down to normal when he had new labs drawn the next week. He has had no problems since.

His doctor agreed that the cherry juice must have been effective since he had no other treatment. I have used cherry extract successfully for joint pain as well. If you choose to try this, be sure to get the pure cherry extract not watered down juice, and usually the label on the bottle will give you guidelines on how much to take.

I had my 2nd gout episode, 1/2013. When taking the tart cherry juice or cherry pills, do u take it when you feel the pain coming or is it a daily routine for the rest of your life?

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