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Do Black Cherries Help with Inflammation?

Black cherry juice is said to reduce inflammation and is used to treat arthritis and gout. But is there any evidence to show it works? Nutrition Diva takes a closer look.

By
Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS,
August 29, 2014

Black Cherries and Inflammation

Q. I've heard that black cherries or black cherry concentrate may be able to provide relief for gout, arthritis, and other inflammation-related issues. What's your take?

A. I've heard that too! Cherries (especially the dark or "black" cherries) have long been a folk remedy for gout and arthritis, and now marketers have jumped on the bandwagon with black cherry concentrates and extracts. Traditional remedies often become traditional for a good reason: because they work! And there's certainly plenty of anecdotal evidence to back this one up, but without scientific studies, it can be hard to tell how much of the perceived effects are due to a placebo effect or some other variable.

Cherry Juice May Help Reduce Gout

There's not a whole lot of research yet on cherry juice, but there have been some promising preliminary findings, particularly in regard to gout. Eating cherries, drinking cherry juice, or taking a cherry juice concentrate appears to reduce flare-ups—although you need to keep it up to enjoy ongoing benefits. Because fresh cherries have a fairly short season, cherry juice or extracts are probably more practical for long-term use.

See also: What is Gout? 

Cherry Juice Is Not as Effective for Arthritis

Initial research into the benefits for arthritis sufferers wasn't as encouraging. In one recent study, drinking tart cherry juice every day helped a bit with arthritis symptoms, but no more so than the placebo. 

Anthocyanins and Cherries

Researchers believe that anthocyanins are the "magic ingredient" in black cherries—and you can get anthocyanins from a lot of foods, including grapes, plums, berries, eggplant, and red onions. There are also other anti-inflammatory nutrients—such as the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil, and phytonutrients found in ginger, garlic, and turmeric—with a lot more research to back them up. If I had arthritis, I don't think I'd spend the money on a cherry extract, but I would try to eat a wide range of fruits (including cherries!) and vegetables and anti-inflammatory spices.

See also: Foods That Fight Inflammation

Black ripe cherries image courtesy of Shutterstock

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