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Will Tart Cherry Juice Really Soothe Gout Pain?

Eating tart cherries or drinking cherry juice can often soothe gout pain. Cherries reduce uric acid crystals that cause joint inflammation in gout.
Will Tart Cherry Juice Really Soothe Gout Pain?
Hand embracing foot with deformed right toe due to painful gout inflammation

People who have had one episode of gout are usually anxious to learn how they can avoid another attack. The pain is so intense that even the light touch of a sheet on the affected joint may be unbearable. Doctors often tell such sufferers to avoid beer and other alcohol, stick to low-fat dairy products and cut back on seafood and red meat. Beverages with high-fructose corn syrup cause trouble. Many people insist that drinking tart cherry juice can soothe gout pain.

Cherries to Soothe Gout Pain:

Q. I have never had gout, but I know people who have had it. I read that cherry juice could have a positive effect on gout. So when one friend had a bad case of gout, I bought him a bottle of cherry juice and a box of fresh cherries. He had relief very quickly and continued to drink cherry juice on a regular basis. He tells people I cured him of his gout.

I mentioned cherries to another woman who had gout. She told me when she was leaving the doctor’s office with a prescription, his nurse whispered to her, “Just get some cherry juice.”

A. Gout is a very painful disorder in which uric acid crystals accumulate in one or more joints, triggering an attack. Several observational studies have shown that people who eat cherries or take cherry extract are less likely to have a gout flare-up (Zhang et al, Arthritis and Rheumatism, Dec. 2012; Singh et al, Journal of Clinical Rheumatology, June 2015). As the scientists note, this is an association and could simply mean that people with less severe gout can rely on cherries instead of medicine.

How Does Tart Cherry Juice Soothe Gout Pain?

Research in humans and animals shows, however, that tart cherry juice can lower uric acid (Jacob et al, Journal of Nutrition, June 2003; Haldari et al, Malaysian Journal of Nutrition, Vol. 15, no. 1, 2009). Even sweet cherries seem to have anti-inflammatory effects (Kelley et al, Journal of Nutrition, March 2013).

You can learn more about gout and other non-drug approaches to common ailments in our book, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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