cherries, powdered cherries

Q. My cardiologist insists that I have to take low-dose aspirin and Plavix to prevent a heart attack. The trouble is that I have arthritis and bursitis. Because of the Plavix and aspirin I can’t take the usual ibuprofen or naproxen.

Sometimes I cheat, but then I worry that my aspirin won’t work as well as it should to protect my heart. What alternatives can I use to ease my pain?

A. Although NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are the first treatment most people try for joint pain, they can have serious side effects and may undo the benefits of aspirin. Someone in your situation really needs to find a home remedy that will ease your discomfort. Fortunately, there are quite a few that may work, and most will not interact with your heart medicines.

Tart cherries, for example, contain anti-inflammatory compounds. Many readers find them helpful; others are enthusiastic about gin-soaked golden raisins. Grape juice, apple cider vinegar, pineapple extract and herbs such as boswellia, ginger or stinging nettle can all be beneficial. You will learn more about these and other options in the Guide to Alternatives for Arthritis that we are sending you.

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  1. Janet

    EF has a different approach and I think I may try that. See how it works.

  2. Shirley B.

    I’m wondering whether it makes a difference what kind of gin one soaks the raisins in. I’ve been using the regular gin…I think it’s made from juniper berries, for several months and now a friend told me that I should be using Sloe Gin. This is for very painful arthritis in my fingers. Does it make a difference which kind of gin? I’ve never seen any mention of that. I’m over 80 and an avid quilter. So the pain in my fingers has impacted my life a lot.

  3. O.G.

    I’m definitely looking for an alternative to drugs to manage the pain and stiffness of osteoarthritis, since I’ve now had an allergic reaction (serious, unending, generalized itching, which a pharmacist told me was a flat-out allergic reaction) to NSAIDs, as well as increasingly serious stomach problems from them.

    Other drugs are out, too: again, my reaction to each class –like a pharmaceutical princess and the pea–made them very bad options.

    But here’s the other challenge: I’m a Type 1/LADA diabetic, managing–sucessfully, so far–my blood sugar with Levemir insulin, a bit of Metformin, and an extremely low-carb, vegetarian, diet. Gin-soaked golden raisins sound good, and the gin would be fine: but raisins are too high in sugar. I drink ginger tea. I’ve tried as many “natural” remedies as I have suggested prescription drugs, from Boswellia to Zyflamend and back again. Nothing works.

    What…to DO??? Knowing my situation (and now my age: I’ll be 70 in September) and extreme sensitivity to drugs, what can I do so I’m not as stiff as Baum’s Tin Woodman, rusting in a forest in Oz with no oil can withing reach?

    Any suggestions will be gratefully received, believe me.

  4. george

    I have been taking nsaids in high doses since 1997. I was diagnosed with chiari (kiari) malformation and also arthritis. Now I was told that my liver is border line. Is there anything that I can take for pain that won’t hurt my liver that are not nsaids?

  5. LouCo

    Thank you so much for publishing alternative therapies. I tried the gin-soaked raisins for finger pain and stiffness and even though they taste great, they didn’t seem to do anything. At I found a product called Cherry Flex and began taking it last week. Within two days, the aching in my fingers began to go away. After a week, the stiffness is still there in the morning but the constant aching is completely gone. I feel what we need and assimilate is different for each individual. Just because something doesn’t work for one, doesn’t mean it won’t work for someone else. I’m excited about finding an alternative solution for my symptoms.

  6. Pat

    I agree with Sis. 10/26.
    You never mentioned anything at all about dangerous chemicals in any articles about Certo and Grape Juice. What else don’t we know???
    Again, you don’t give enough information in the article. LIKE, the amount of juice and Certo.
    It’s not fair to give partial answers.

  7. MS

    I am now concerned about your statement
    We actually discourage people from making large quantities of grape juice and Certo. Some concern has been raised that the combination might lead to formation of chemicals that are unsafe. Although not proven, we think it is probably best to make one glassful at a time by mixing the Certo into the juice just before drinking.
    Please explain as in your numerous notes about this you have never mentioned this and in the peoples comments many have suggested the mix of 64 oz juice with 1 packet of Certo which is what I have been using and this is the first time you say this could be unsafe. Please refer to your article of Home Remedies For Arthritis August 4, 2011 and Pain Relief from Home Remedies
    September 9, 2010 where people comment about mixing the 64 oz with 1 packet of Certo and no comments from you about the dangers of this mixture.
    I know you always recommend 1 tbsp certo with 6 to 8 oz grape juice, but this is the first time you mention mixing higher quantities is unsafe.
    Please let us know what are these dangers .Thank you.
    People’s Pharmacy response: Research several years ago showed that mixing vitamin C with sodium benzoate (a preservative in Certo) can form benzene. Benzene is a carcinogen, so we think it wise to avoid letting the mixture sit in the fridge for a week at a time. Mixing up one glass at a time is much less likely to create a problem, though at this point the problem is purely hypothetical.

  8. sjs

    What do you mean about the “formation of unsafe chemicals” from the combination of grape juice and Certo? Please give us more information as I have never heard of this.

  9. Charles C.

    If you do a search on “curcumin and arthritis” you will find research findings that show that curcumin can be effective in reducing arthritis symptoms for some people — enough people to provide statistically significant findings. The relief probably occurs because curcumin inhibits the development of inflammatory immune cells located in the intestines. Use the least expensive curcumin, since enhanced bio-availability is not an issue for this application. If I had this problem I would take 500 mgs twice a day.

  10. Millie

    Get yourself a 64 oz bottle of Welch’s Grape Juice ( no sugar added)..I am sure there are generics, BUT.
    Go to the jello isle in Walmart’s and on top shelve is CERTO… liquid pectin, used in jams and jellys. There are 2 packets in box.
    Pour about 1/2 cup of grape juice out of the bottle, add an evnvelope of the Certo to grape juice…. shake it up really good to disolve.
    Then DRINK IT EVERY DAY…, if you have bad drink more, if not drink a juice glass on daily basis.
    This works….. I even wrote to Welch’s about it and they sent me reponse letter and thank you and coupons so I could keep my regime going.
    Thing is ? Do you want a drug you can’t stop or something that is natural???? YOUR CHOICE.
    We actually discourage people from making large quantities of grape juice and Certo. Some concern has been raised that the combination might lead to formation of chemicals that are unsafe. Although not proven, we think it is probably best to make one glassful at a time by mixing the Certo into the juice just before drinking.

  11. ef

    I use cinnamon & honey, and it works fabulously. Mix 2 teaspoons honey with one teaspoon cinnamon and stir to make a slurry, in a mug. Then add hot water to make a tea. Like drinking a cinnamon bun. I did this for 2 weeks, twice a day and my arthritis in my back & thumb are gone.

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