Studies have indicated that cherries and their juice may help alleviate gout symptoms by reducing the amount of uric acid in the body. But cherries should not be used as a replacement for any gout medication.

According to the Arthritis Foundation, 4 percent of American adults are affected by gout. It affects about 6 million men and 2 million women in the United States.

Gout occurs when there’s a buildup of uric acid in the body. If you have gout, you’ll probably experience painful swelling in your joints, particularly in your feet. You might have intermittent gout attacks, or flare-ups, which involve a sudden onset of pain and swelling. Gout can also lead to the development of inflammatory arthritis.

Fortunately, there are many available treatments to help you manage your gout symptoms, including:

One popular natural treatment for gout flare-ups is cherry juice. Let’s take a look at how cherry juice can be used to manage gout symptoms.

It was originally suspected that cherry juice treats gout flare-up by reducing the level of uric acid in the body. Since uric acid buildup is what causes gout, it only goes to reason that cherry juice could prevent or treat gout flare-ups.

A 2011 study noted that 100 percent tart cherry juice significantly reduced the level of serum uric acid levels in the majority of participants who drank 8 ounces of the juice every day for four weeks.

It’s not only cherry juice that could lower uric acid levels — cherry juice concentrate can also be beneficial for those with gout.

A 2012 pilot study found that consuming cherry juice concentrate for a four-month period or longer did not lower uric acid levels. However, consuming cherry juice concentrate still reduced gout flare-ups significantly. This suggested some other mechanism was involved. The researchers tracked key serum biomarkers for inflammation and discovered a significant decrease in serum inflammatory mediators like interleukins in gout patients who consumed cherry juice concentrate. They concluded that the reduction in gout flares could be independently attributed to muted inflammation regardless of uric acid levels.

An online survey directed at people with gout also suggested cherry intake can improve symptoms. Of the survey respondents, 43 percent said that they used cherry extract or juice to treat their gout symptoms. The survey found that those who used cherry supplements reported significantly fewer flare-ups.

Of course, this study is limited because it relies on the subjects to report their own symptoms. Even so, the results are promising.

One of the most comprehensive studies on gout and cherry juice was conducted in 2012. The study looked at 633 participants with gout. The researchers found that consuming at least 10 cherries per day reduced the risk of gout attacks by 35 percent. A combination of cherries and allopurinol, a medication often taken to reduce uric acid, reduced the risk of gout attacks by 75 percent.

According to the study, cherries reduce uric acid because they contain anthocyanins, which is what gives cherries their color. Anthocyanins are also found in other fruits, such as blueberries, but there’s a lack of conclusive research on the effects of blueberry consumption on gout.

Anthocyanins also have anti-inflammatory properties, another reason why cherry juice is a natural anti-inflammatory. As mentioned earlier, this likely reduces the frequency of gout flares.

Despite the fact that research strongly suggests that cherry juice can treat gout, there isn’t yet a standard dosage. The amount of cherry juice that you consume should depend on the intensity of your symptoms.

The Arthritis Foundation suggests eating a handful of cherries or drinking a glass of tart cherry juice per day, since the available research noted improvements in people who drank a glass every day.

However, it’s always best to talk to your doctor before pursuing any treatment, as they might be able to give you more specific directions on dosage.

Unless you’re allergic to cherries, it’s unlikely that you’ll have an adverse reaction. However, it’s important to eat everything in moderation — and cherries are no exception. It’s possible to have diarrhea if you drink too much cherry juice or eat too many cherries.

How much is too much cherry juice? That’s hard to say, as it depends on your own digestive system. As mentioned, one glass a day should be enough to treat gout without producing any side effects. If you have any adverse reactions, make a note of them and speak to a healthcare provider about it.

If you want to add more cherries into your diet, you can do so in a number of different ways. You can:

  • drink tart cherry juice
  • add cherries to yogurt or fruit salad
  • blend cherries or cherry juice up in a smoothie

You may even want to enjoy a healthy cherry dessert.

While cherry juice may help improve your gout symptoms, it shouldn’t replace any prescribed medication.

Your doctor might prescribe a number of medications to treat gout, including:

  • anti-inflammatory drugs
  • corticosteroids
  • medication to reduce pain
  • medication that reduces or eliminates the uric acid in your body, such as allopurinol

Along with medication, your doctor might suggest you make a few lifestyle changes to improve your gout symptoms. This could include:

Cherry juice can complement prescribed medication and lifestyle changes. As always, it’s important to consult with your doctor before pursuing any natural treatments.