Stop Joint Pain and Inflammation with One Little Fruit

Photo credit: bigstock.com

Photo credit: bigstock.com

Tart cherries are closely related to sweet cherries, but they are much more acidic. It’s believed that this is what gives them their powerful medicinal effects. Tart cherries are sometimes referred to as sour cherries, but they all contain high levels of vitamin C and beta carotene. Sour cherries are indeed a super food and the good news is, no matter how you consume them– dried, fresh, frozen, as a juice, or in an extract– they will reduce inflammation in the body.

The compounds in tart cherries modulate numerous pathways, which can also protect us from other conditions that are caused by inflammation, including metabolic syndrome, Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. Tart cherries contain compounds that turn off, or on, critical genes in the body. They modulate cell signaling molecules, such as tumor necrosis factor, and, in one amazing study model, a 65 percent reduction in early mortality.

One study found that using tart cherry extract for those with osteoarthritis pain reduced the amount of pain in more than half of the subjects. This study, performed at the Baylor Research Institute in Dallas, Texas, was quite small, with only 20 subjects, but it is considered to be a good pilot study.

Another study, conducted at the Oregon Health and Science University, also involved 20 subjects with inflammatory osteoarthritis. The subjects were instructed to drink tart cherry juice twice each day for the three week study period. There was a significant reduction in the inflammatory markers, especially among those who were more severely affected.

A larger study, performed at Boston University Medical Center, involved 633 subjects who had gout. These subjects consumed 10 fresh tart cherries each day. After just 48 hours, these subjects had a 50 percent lower risk of gout flare ups.

Few people are aware that obesity can be both a cause, and consequence, of chronic low-level inflammation. Belly fat creates a huge store of pro-inflammatory cell-signaling compounds known as cytokines. Left alone, cytokines can trigger a huge wave of destruction that can lead to numerous degenerative diseases. One study showed that when overweight and obese adults drank just 8 ounces of tart cherry juice during the 4 week study period, all subjects showed significantly lower levels of inflammation, including decreases in tumor necrosis factor levels, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, and monocyte chemotactic protein. These are all key markers of inflammation, and tart cherry juice worked to lower every single one of these.

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