Black cherry juice may be the answer if you suffer arthritis pain and do not want to take prescription or over-the-counter pain relievers due to their negative side effects such as stomach, kidney and heart problems. Research on cherry juice and its pain- and inflammation-fighting prowess, potential side effects and drug interactions and effective dosage is still in early stages as of 2011, however, so consult a doctor before trying this remedy.
Compounds in cherries called anthocyanins inhibit enzymes called COX-1 and COX-2. These are the enzymes that are targeted by anti-inflammatory drugs including aspirin, ibuprofen and the arthritis drugs celecoxib and diclofenac.
Some anthocyanins contained in cherries may actually be more powerful than aspirin when it comes to fighting inflammation, according to a December 2004 “Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology” study. Also, these compounds appear effective against the pain that is caused by inflammation, notes an August 2004 “Behavioral Brain Research Study.”
Anthocyanins have antioxidant action that appears beneficial for arthritis sufferers, according to a September-October 2006 “Scandinavian Journal of Rheumatology” study. This is important because oxygen free radicals, which antioxidants help neutralize, are implicated as tissue damage mediators in people with rheumatoid arthritis, or RA, according to a December 2003 “Clinica Chimica Acta” study. If you suffer RA, your antioxidant defense system is likely compromised, which raises risk for tissue damage. Lead study author S. Jaswal recommends administering antioxidants along with conventional arthritis drugs to patients with compromised antioxidant defense systems. Jaswal also notes that more research is needed to back this recommendation due to the small size of the study.
The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant action of anthocyanins appear to be dose-dependent, meaning higher doses are more effective, according to the “Scandinavian Journal of Rheumatology” study. There is not a standard, recommended dose of cherry juice for alleviating arthritis inflammation and pain, but “Outsmart Arthritis,” by Rodale Inc. recommends drinking two to three glasses black cherry juice daily if you suffer gout, which is a form of arthritis. While some research points to benefits, claims of pain relief among people are still largely anecdotal, notes The Los Angeles Times newspaper. Consuming cherry juice daily can have side effects including an upset stomach and diarrhea. Many cherry juice blends have the equivalent of 45 to 50 cherries in an 8- to 10-oz. bottle, which equals three servings of fruit, according to the Times’ July 2009 article, “Tart Cherry Juice: A Lip-Puckering Pain Remedy,” by Elena Conis.
- “Scandinavian Journal of Rheumatology”; Anti-Inflammatory and Anti-Oxidative Effects of Cherries on Freund's Adjuvant-Induced Arthritis in Rats; Y.H. He, et al.; September-October 2006
- “Clinica Chimica Acta” Antioxidant Status in Rheumatoid Arthritis and Role of Antioxidant Therapy; S. Jaswal, et al.; December 2003
- Seattle Times newspaper; People's Pharmacy home remedies: Cherry juice for arthritis, vitamin D for immune system; Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon; December 2009
- “Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology”; Sour Cherry (Prunus cerasus L) Anthocyanins as Ingredients for Functional Foods; Federica Blando, et al.; December 2004
- “Behavioral Brain Research Study”; Tart Cherry Anthocyanins Suppress Inflammation-Induced Pain Behavior in Rat; J.M. Tall, et al.; August 2004
- Los Angeles Times: “Tart cherry juice: A lip-puckering pain remedy?”; Elena Conis; July 6, 2009
- “Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry”; Comparison of Antioxidant Potency of Commonly Consumed polyphenol-Rich Beverages in the United States; N.P. Seeram, et al.; February 2008
- New York Daily News: “Training With Tart Cherries – Nature’s Ibuprofen”; Lauren Johnston; January 2011
- “Outsmart Arthritis”; Rodale Inc.; 2003
- “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Arthritis”; Amye L. Leong, et al.; 2009