According to a new study to come out of Boston University and published in Arthritis & Rheumatism, eating cherries significantly reduces the risk of gout flare ups. Gout is a form of arthritis that occurs when crystals of urate form in the joints. For some reason the big toe seems to be a common area for this condition to occur and it is known as one of the most painful things ever - as anyone having had it will testify. Standard treatments involve anti-inflammatory drugs, but these drugs have severe limitations as well as well-documented side-effects, plus there have been no rigorous studies of whether they can reduce the risk of gout attacks.
The research showed that people taking 10 to 12 cherries over two days, or who consumed cherry extract had a 35% lower risk of gout attacks. Further, the threat of gout flares fell by as much as 75% when cherry intake was combined with a drug that lowers urate.
They go on to report that the risk of gout continued to decrease with increasing cherry consumption, up to three servings over two days, but not beyond this degree of consumption. The authors also point out that while these early results look interesting patients should continue to take advice from their doctors and not abandon the standard therapies.
Alan Silman, medical director of Arthritis Research UK says that he welcomes the findings, because for some time there has been talk of fruits like cherries being of benefit to people with gout and rheumatoid arthritis, both of which occur with chronic inflammation. It has been suggested for some time that antioxidant compounds found in cherries can inhibit the types of enzymes in the body that are targeted by traditional anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen.