Health Benefits of Cherry Juice for Arthritis and Gout

Tart cherry juice may reduce inflammation in people with arthritis and gout

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Although preliminary, some studies have suggested that cherry juice could offer benefits as a complementary treatment for arthritis and gout.

Cherries are a rich source of polyphenols, naturally-occurring plant-based compounds that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. They are also a good source of dietary fiber and are considered low on the glycemic index.

There are many different varieties of cherries, but the two main types are sweet and tart. Montmorency cherries are a tart variety commonly studied for their health benefits, while Bing cherries are a popular sweet cherry variety.

Both sweet and tart cherries are high in polyphenols, but tart varieties are by far the richer source. 

health benefits of black cherries
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This article will examine the benefits of tart cherry juice in people with arthritis and gout, weighing the current evidence alongside the potential risks and side effects.

Health Benefits

Tart cherry juice contains anthocyanins, which are anti-inflammatory compounds responsible for the red, blue, and purple colors of fruits and vegetables. Some evidence suggests that anthocyanins help to combat a variety of chronic inflammatory diseases, including arthritis, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even cancer.

Anthocyanins are thought to decrease inflammation by suppressing pro-inflammatory compounds in the body, including cyclooxygenase (COX). COX is the same pro-inflammatory enzyme targeted by anti-inflammatory drugs like Aleve (naproxen) and Celebrex (celecoxib).

In addition, tart cherry juice has high concentrations of polyphenols like flavonoids that also have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Together, these compounds make tart cherry juice a potentially helpful add-on therapy for people with arthritis and gout.

Nutritional Information

Eight ounces of 100% organic tart cherry juice delivers the following nutritional value and helps meet the recommended daily value (DV) of several key nutrients:

  • Calories: 130
  • Protein: 1.01 grams
  • Total fat: 0 grams
  • Saturated fats: 0 grams
  • Trans fats: 0 grams
  • Cholesterol: 0 milligrams
  • Sodium: 19.2 milligrams
  • Sugars: 24 grams
  • Total carbohydrates: 32 grams (11% DV)
  • Dietary fiber: 0.96 grams (4% DV)
  • Calcium: 19.2 milligrams (2% DV)
  • Iron: 1.44 milligrams (8% DV)
  • Potassium: 410 milligrams (12% DV)
  • Vitamin C: 9.12 milligrams (15% DV)

Recap

Tart cherry juice is rich in plant-based compounds called anthocyanins and polyphenols, both of which have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. These compounds may be useful in relieving arthritis pain and inflammation.

Benefits for Arthritis

Arthritis is an inflammatory condition affecting the joints. Osteoarthritis, also known as "wear-and-tear" arthritis, is the most common type. The breakdown of cartilage leads to inflammation, pain, joint stiffness, and a reduced range of motion.

There have been a small handful of clinical trials investigating the effect of tart cherry juice on people with arthritis. Among them:

  • A 2012 study in the Journal of Food Science reported that participants with osteoarthritis who drank 10.5 ounces of Montmorency cherry juice twice daily for three weeks had lower markers of inflammation (specifically C-reactive protein) than people given a placebo.
  • A 2013 study published in Osteoarthritis and Cartilage reported that participants with knee osteoarthritis who drank 8 ounces of Montmorency cherry juice twice daily for six weeks had less joint pain and stiffness and improved joint function compared to those given a placebo.

Despite the positive findings, the studies were small (20 and 53 participants, respectively). More research is needed.

Recap

Several small studies have suggested that drinking Montmorency cherry juice every day for three to six weeks can reduce inflammation, improve joint function, and relieve joint stiffness and pain in people with osteoarthritis.

Benefits for Gout

Gout is a chronic form of inflammatory arthritis caused by the build-up of uric acid crystals in the joints and tissues (most commonly the big toe). Traditional treatments often include medications, self-care, and the avoidance of trigger foods.

Studies involving the use of tart cherry juice in people with gout reported the following findings:

  • A small 2011 study involving 10 adults with gout found that participants who consumed 8 ounces of tart cherry juice per day for four weeks had less uric acid and pro-inflammatory compounds in their bloodstream than those given a placebo.
  • A 2019 study involving 25 overweight or obese adults at risk of gout reported that those who drank 8 ounces of tart cherry juice every day for four weeks had lower uric acid and C-reactive protein levels than those who were given a placebo.
  • A 2019 review of studies in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine suggested that the more tart cherry juice a person drank, the lower their risk was of having a gout attack.

Not all study findings are consistent. A 2020 study published in the journal Rheumatology looked at the effects of tart cherry juice in 50 adults with gout. After 28 days of twice-daily doses, the participants had no changes in their uric acid levels.

Recap

Studies investigating the benefits of tart cherry juice in people with gout have been mixed. Some have reported a significant drop in blood uric acid levels in study participants, while others have not. More research is needed.

Side Effects

In general, tart cherry juice is well tolerated. Some studies have noted that a few participants experienced mild stomach upset and loose stools. One study mentioned that a participant experienced an allergic reaction to tart cherry juice. Even so, the majority of people taking tart cherry juice have had minimal to no side effects.

It should be mentioned that drinking large amounts of tart cherry juice daily adds a considerable amount of sugar to your diet. It's generally recommended that people limit sugar on an arthritis-friendly diet.

People with diabetes should also drink cherry juice in moderation as the amount of sugar in 8 ounces of juice can raise blood glucose (sugar) levels.

An alternative to tart cherry juice is tart cherry capsules. One brand, called Cherry Flex, uses the skin and the pulp of the Montmorency cherry. The over-the-counter product has less sugar than cherry juice and is also available as a paste for people who have trouble swallowing pills.

Before using any supplement, speak with your healthcare provider to ensure that it is appropriate for you and won't interact with any medications you are taking.

Recap

Tart cherry juice poses few health risks but may not be suitable for people with diabetes or those on an arthritis-friendly diet due to the high sugar content (24 grams per serving). There are low-sugar alternatives, like Cherry Flex, available over the counter.

Summary

Tart cherry juice, typically from Montmorency cherries, is rich in plant-based compounds called anthocyanins and polyphenols. Both compounds are thought to have potent anti-inflammatory effects that may benefit people with arthritis and gout.

Some studies have shown that drinking tart cherry juice can reduce inflammation, joint pain, and stiffness in people with osteoarthritis. The juice may also reduce uric acid levels in people with gout, lowering the risk of an attack. The evidence supporting these claims is limited, though.

Tart cherry juice is generally safe to consume, although some people may experience an upset stomach or loose stools. Speak with your doctor before using tart cherry juice for medical reasons, particularly if you have diabetes or are on an arthritis-friendly diet.

A Word From Verywell

Cherry juice is not meant to be a replacement for traditional medical therapies for gout or arthritis. Always speak with your doctor before making any changes to your diet or treatment plan if you have gout or arthritis.

Just because something is "natural" does not mean that it is safe or effective.

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9 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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