Drinking to Cure: Apple Cider Vinegar and Cherry Juice for Arthritis?
Full of Cherries and Vinegar
According to the Centers for Disease Control, 50 million people in the U.S. report that they’ve been diagnosed with arthritis. The role of diet in helping to manage arthritis can be confusing. Claims about “miracle” foods seem to be matched by warnings about foods that potentially trigger arthritis symptoms.
Here’s a look at how cherry juice and apple cider vinegar may fit into your efforts to tame arthritis pain and stiffness.
The Cherry Theory
Cherries are a rich source of anthocyanins, which give the fruit its red color. According to the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a three-ounce serving of pitted dark cherries delivers between 82 and 297 mg of anthocyanins. A member of the flavonoid group, anthocyanins have antioxidant properties that may battle inflammation. But, scientists don’t understand exactly how this mechanism works.
Knee Pain and Tart Cherry Juice
A double-blind study published in a supplement to the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism revealed that tart cherry juice might have a role in easing pain from osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee.
The study found that people who drank two bottles of tart cherry juice every day for six weeks had decreased pain scores compared with the group that drank a placebo. Each bottle of juice contained the equivalent of 45 tart cherries and a hefty dose of sugar—31 grams.
Popping Cherry Pills
Researchers have tried to prove that cherries can reduce osteoarthritis pain. One study showed that 20 women with osteoarthritis had decreased levels of C-reactive protein after they drank two bottles of tart cherry juice per day for 21 days. A decreased C-reactive protein level is associated with reduced amounts of inflammation.
Another study showed that a gelatin capsule made from Montmorency cherries could help relieve osteoarthritis pain. The study was small and was not published, and a follow-up study failed to confirm the results. The cherry capsules showed no better pain improvement than placebo in the follow-up, according to the Arthritis Foundation.
Cherries and Gout
Some research demonstrates a potential role for cherries and cherry extract in reducing gout flares. Gout is a form of arthritis. A gout flare, or “attack,” produces joint pain, swelling, and redness. One study by the Boston University School of medicine found that eating cherries could help prevent gout attacks.
The study followed 633 gout patients for one year. Researchers looked at two-day intervals and found that those who consumed cherries over a two-day period had a 35 percent lower risk of gout attacks than the group that did not eat cherries at all.
Derive the Cherry Benefit
The science on a link between cherries and arthritis relief is still evolving. As the research continues, why not enjoy the delicious and healthy red fruit?
Toss dried tart cherries into salad or stir them into muffin or pancake batter. Add a dash of tart cherry juice to your water to give an antioxidant boost to your hydration. Top your yogurt and granola with fresh cherries or enjoy a handful of them plain. You can keep your own notes on your arthritis symptoms, and see if cherries help.
The Vitals on Vinegar
Proponents of apple cider vinegar claim that its antioxidant beta-carotene and acetic acid produce miraculous effects in easing arthritis pain. However, no scientific studies support these claims. A USDA analysis of cider vinegar shows no measurable amounts of beta-carotene or other vitamins.
A splash of cider vinegar to spark up your salad adds tang, but swigging the stuff or swallowing vinegar pills have not been shown to help arthritis. In fact, the Arthritis Foundation lists cider vinegar among “arthritis food myths.”
Smart Use of Cherries and Apple Cider Vinegar
No specific “arthritis diet” has been proven to reduce arthritis symptoms. However, a healthy diet is a key part of living well with the condition. Fill your plate with fruit, vegetables, nuts, beans, and seeds to keep weight in check and help control osteoarthritis.
Healthy eating may also potentially reduce inflammation from gout or rheumatoid arthritis. Include apple cider vinegar and cherries in a fruit- and vegetable-rich diet to help fuel your energy, boost immunity, and stay in a normal weight range.
- CDC - Arthritis - Basics - FAQs. (2011). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved September 24, 2013, from http://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/basics/faqs.htm - 12
- Cush, J. (2007). Can Cherries Relieve the Pain of Osteoarthritis?. Baylor Online Newsroom. Retrieved September 24, 2013, from http://media.baylorhealth.com/releases/Can-Cherries-Relieve-the-Pain-of-Osteoarthritis
- Kuehl, K., Elliott, D., Sleigh, A., & Smith, J. (2012). Efficacy of Tart Cherry Juice to Reduce Inflammation Biomarkers among Women with Inflammatory Osteoarthritis (OA). Journal of Food Studies. Retrieved September 24, 2013, from http://www.macrothink.org/journal/index.php/jfs/article/view/1927/1790
- Linder, L. (n.d.). Inflammation Foods | Foods For Arthritis. Arthritis Today Magazine. Retrieved September 24, 2013, from http://www.arthritistoday.org/what-you-can-do/eating-well/arthritis-diet/food-myths-arthritis-2.php
- National nutrient database. Vinegar, cider. (n.d.). NDL/FNIC Food Composition Database. Retrieved September 24, 2013, from http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/272?qlookup=apple+cider+vinegar&fg=&format=&man=&lfacet=&max=25&new=1
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- Schlesinger, N., & Schlesinger, M. (2012). Pilot Studies of Cherry Juice Concentrate for Gout Flare Prophylaxis. J Arthritis 1(1), 1-5. Retrieved September 24, 2013, from http://www.omicsgroup.org/journals/JAHS/JAHS-1-101.pdf
- Schumacher, H., Pullman-Mooar, S., Gupta, S., Dinnella, S., Kim, J., & McHugh, R. (2011). Double blind cross-over study of the efficacy of a tart cherry juice blend in treatment of osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee. [abstract]. Arthritis Rheum 63 Suppl 10:1092 . Retrieved September 24, 2013, from http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/acrmeeting/abstract.asp?MeetingID=781&id=95832
- Zhang, Y., Neogi, T., Chen, C., Chaisson, C., Hunter, D., & Choi, H. (2012). Cherry consumption and decreased risk of recurrent gout attacks. [abstract]. Arthritis & Rheumatism 64 Suppl 12:4004-4011 . Retrieved September 24, 2013, from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/art.34677/abstract