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cherry juice: a natural painkiller for gout and arthritis?

Is cherry juice a new 'sports drink?'

May 28, 2009 -- Drinking cherry juice could help ease the pain for people who run, according to new research from Oregon Health & Science University presented at the American College of Sports Medicine Conference in Seattle, Wash. The study showed people who drank tart cherry juice while training for a long distance run reported significantly less pain after exercise than those who didn't. Post-exercise pain can often indicate muscle damage or debilitating injuries.

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In the study of sixty healthy adults aged 18-50 years, those who drank 10.5 ounces cherry juice (CHERRish 100% Montmorency cherry juice) twice a day for seven days prior to and on the day of a long-distance relay had significantly less muscle pain following the race than those who drank another fruit juice beverage. On a scale from 0 to 10, the runners who drank cherry juice as their "sports drink" had a 2 point lower self-reported pain level at the completion of the race, a clinically significant difference.

While more research is needed to fully understand the effects of tart cherry juice, researchers say the early finding indicate cherries may work like common medications used by runners to alleviate post-exercise inflammation.

"For most runners, post-race treatment consists of RICE (rest, ice, compression and elevation) and traditional NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)," said Kerry Kuehl, M.D., a sports medicine physician and principal study investigator. "But NSAIDS can have adverse effects you may be able to avoid by using a natural, whole food alternative, like cherry juice, to reduce muscle inflammation before exercise."

The researchers suggest cherries' post-exercise benefits are likely because of the fruit's natural anti-inflammation power attributed to antioxidant compounds called anthocyanins, which also give cherries their bright red color.

Whether elite athletes or weekend warriors, this natural anti-inflammation power of cherry juice could have far-reaching benefits for the millions of active Americans currently taking over-the-counter pain medications to reducemuscle pain and beyond. A growing body of research suggests cherries could affect inflammation related to heart disease, arthritis and may even help maintain muscle strength for those suffering from fibromyalgia (a common, chronic widespread pain disorder), according to a second study presented by the same researchers at the ACSM conference.

Kuehl KS, Chestnutt J, Elliot DL, Lilley C. Efficacy of tart cherry juice in reducing muscle pain after strenuous exercise. American College of Sports Medicine. 851. May, 2009.

Jones KD, Elliot DL, Kuehl KS, Dulacki K. Tart cherry juice for fibromyalgia: new testing paradigm and subgroup benefits. American College of Sports Medicine. 852. May, 2009.

Surveys conducted IRI Data and The Hartman Group, 2008

Cherry Juice Reduces Muscle Pain
June 22, 2006 -- Cherry juice might not be the most common juice selection out there, but new information about the benefits of the juice and exercise suggest maybe it should be.

According to researchers from the University of Vermont in Burlington, VT, cherry juice can reduce muscle pain and damage induced by exercise. The authors say there have been many attempts to solve the dual muscle problem in the past, but few have been effective.

The study was comprised of 14 volunteers. They were asked to drink fresh cherry juice blended with commercial apple juice twice a day for three days before exercise and four days afterward, or to drink a mixture containing no cherry juice.

When the study was complete, there was a significant difference in the degree of muscle strength loss between those drinking the cherry juice blend and those taking the random mixture.

The authors conclude, "These results have important practical applications for athletes, as performance after damaging exercise bouts is primarily affected by strength loss and pain."

SOURCE: British Journal of Sports Medicine, published online June 22, 2006

Cherry Juice Concentrate was front and center in a NewsWeek article on the health benefits of consuming certain foods that are rich in anthocyanins. The focus of the story was on how scientists are trying to clinically prove some of the folk remedies that have been around for years. One particular folk remedy is that cherries will help relieve the pain associated with arthritis and gout. Some of this clinical work is being done at Michigan State University (MSU) National Food Safety and Toxicology Center. At MSU, scientists have discovered that the anthocyanins in tart cherries give ten times the anti-inflammatory relief of aspirin.

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