The latest research into the potential benefits of cherries in the treatment of gout indicates that there may indeed be a beneficial link between cherries and gout; as several other studies have also concluded.
In this study, published in the Journal of Functional Foods in September 2014, researchers at Northumbria University in the UK found that drinking tart cherry juice twice per day significantly reduced blood uric acid levels in study participants.
This is of real interest to gout sufferers since their condition is caused by high uric acid levels in the blood leading to the formation of crystals of urate in joints and surrounding tissue.
A key challenge for anyone with gout is to maintain lower uric acid levels to prevent future attacks. This is important as recent studies have revealed that recurring gout attacks can eventually lead to serious health issues such as, kidney disease, stroke, heart disease, and a higher risk of death.
Montmorency is a sour cherry rich in natural compounds that are known to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which is why many gout sufferers use this natural remedy to relieve their inflammation and pain. There are many reports from people with gout that taking cherries during an attack has reduced their symptoms.
In this particular study the researchers wanted to find out to what extent cherries were capable of affecting uric acid levels as well as inflammation. They used concentrated cherry juice rather than loose cherries — as other studies have done as well — for more accurate measurement and management.
The study was carried out over 2 phases, 10 days apart, each phase of 2 days duration, with 12 volunteers — average age 26 years, 11 of them male, none with gout — who were given either 30ml or 60ml of cherry juice concentrate, mixed with 100ml of water, twice per day (morning and evening) over the 2 days of each phase.
Blood and urine samples were taken and uric acid levels measured directly before, and at regular intervals up to 48 hours after consumption, for each phase. An inflammation marker was also tracked.
Final results showed that uric acid levels in urine increased (more uric acid was being excreted) whilst the levels in blood decreased (less uric acid being reabsorbed by the kidneys) as a result of consuming the cherry juice. Inflammation was also seen to have decreased.
Dr Glyn Howatson, a physiologist in the Department of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation at Northumbria University, summarized the study group’s findings and his hope for the future:
“The study shows that uric acid was quickly clearing from the body with lower levels evident following consumption of the Montmorency cherry concentrate. We demonstrated a drop in blood uric acid, an increase in urinary uric acid and a reduction in an inflammation marker in just a few hours.
This is an exciting first step to applying this intervention to a clinical population that suffer from gout. While the condition can be managed with pharmacological agents, more and more people are increasingly reluctant to use them because of potential side effects and are keen to use natural interventions.
What is especially interesting is that only a relatively small amount of Montmorency cherry concentrate is needed to bring about the positive uric acid-lowering effects.”
It should be noted that the Northumbrian study was partly funded by the Cherry Marketing Institute. The CMI is a non-profit organization funded by cherry growers and processors in North America. There could be a conflict of interest, of course, but the study authors declared that:
“The funders had no role in the study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.”
Now, take a couple of minutes to listen to fast-talking Dr. Greger (not part of this study) as he gives his slant on other studies indicating that cherries could well be beneficial in treating gout:
It should be noted that all studies, thus far, recommend that further, larger-scale research is needed before it can be clinically proven that cherries are effective in treating gout.
But, even taking that into consideration, at the very least, these existing studies indicate ‘some’ degree of beneficial link between cherries and gout. Also, we shouldn’t forget the growing body of anecdotal evidence from gout sufferers themselves. And, in the words of Dr. Greger; “…what’s the downside of eating a half a cup of cherries a day, or…a few spoonfuls of cherry juice?”
Finally, the Northumbrian study used Montmorency cherry concentrate by CherryActive. This can be bought on Amazon if you’re interested in giving it a try…