If you’re looking for a natural way to ease painful joints, sleep better or even improve your memory, research points to one particular type of juice whose natural chemicals and anti-inflammatory effects may help.
For a while now, tart cherry juice has been known to produce those benefits. Now recent research in England shows its antioxidants can also lower your blood pressure.
The power to do all these things, say researchers, comes from its the unique mix of natural inflammatory-fighting substances.
Keep reading for the full story. . .
A study at the Oregon Health & Science University shows tart cherry juice can help control persistent inflammation and may help alleviate the painful joint pain of arthritis.
In a study of twenty women between the ages of 40 and 70 who suffer inflammatory arthritis, the Oregon tests showed that drinking tart cherry juice two times a day for three weeks significantly reduces markers of inflammation and reduced pain.1
“With millions of Americans looking for ways to naturally manage pain, it’s promising that tart cherries can help, without the possible side effects often associated with arthritis medications,” says researcher Kerry Kuehl. “I’m intrigued by the potential for a real food to offer such a powerful anti-inflammatory benefit — especially for active adults.”
Besides helping with arthritis, Dr. Kuehl’s other research has found that runners training for long distance races like marathons experience less pain and soreness after running if they consume tart cherry juice.2
And tests at Marshall University in West Virginia demonstrate that the juice can help relieve the muscle and joint pain linked to drugs called aromatase inhibitors that many women with breast cancer take. (The drugs are meant to lower the risk of the cancer coming back after initial treatment.)
In this study, drinking an ounce of tart cherry juice concentrate dissolved in eight ounces of water once a day reduced pain by about 35 percent.3
Along with its pain benefits, researchers at Louisiana State University have found that tart cherry juice can help people suffering with insomnia get to sleep more easily.4 The Louisiana scientists believe that the anti-inflammatory effects of the juice – along with the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin that the juice contains – are responsible for inducing slumber, although they can’t exactly explain all of the ways these natural chemicals influence the body.
But in their tests, they found that drinking two eight ounce glasses a day of tart cherry juice for a week helped people with insomnia sleep, on average, more than 80 extra minutes a night – an impressive result.
Tart cherries are also good for the heart health of people who have metabolic syndrome – the name given to having too much weight around the middle, combined with high blood pressure, insulin insensitivity and high blood sugar. Those symptoms are often a prelude to diabetes.
In a study in England, researchers found that people with metabolic syndrome who consumed tart cherry juice for just two weeks lowered their systolic blood pressure (the top number on blood pressure measurements) and reduced their insulin levels.5
“Global rates of metabolic syndrome are on the rise and the results of the present study suggest Montmorency tart cherries, in juice or capsule form, could exert beneficial effects for adults with this condition when incorporated into an overall healthy diet,” says researcher Terun Desai.
Along with all these other benefits, tests at the University of Delaware show the juice may help your brain function better. In this study, when folks in their 60s and 70s drank 16 ounces of juice a day for three months, they performed better on cognitive tests and their memories improved, too.9
What do all of these effects of tart cherries have in common? They all seem to be linked to the fact that the natural substances in the cherries and their juice help reduce inflammation – and inflammation is a central villain in the chronic diseases and pain that plague many of us, especially as we get older.
As the Delaware scientists conclude, speaking about the brain improvement they found, “This may be through anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory properties of tart cherry and its ability to lower blood pressure.”
It’s important to remember that there are many ways to lower inflammation – eating less processed food, cutting back on sugar in your diet and exercising consistently can all help. And so can downing tart cherry juice.
At this point I have to throw a little cold water on the subject. Another publication I edit, Cancer Defeated, recently uncovered evidence that fruit juices contain so much sugar, they’re as bad as drinking sodas.
Whole fruit is better, but probably not practical here. You might want to look into those tart cherry supplements mentioned earlier.