“You have Rheumatoid Arthritis,” the rheumatologist said as he examined my warm finger joints and pressed around my kneecaps that were swollen and tender. My morning stiffness would get worse, but there was medication that would prevent further joint damage. But there were risks.
Driving home with the prescription in my pocket, I asked myself, why is this happening to me?
Few days later, prescription on my desk, I sat down to research this boulder that was blocking my path to a healthy, pain-free future. It was of comfort to learn that Rheumatoid Arthritis is not easy to diagnose, but on the other hand, I was to accept that the doctor—after all, it was his specialty—could hone in on what ailed me in one visit. Maybe. Maybe not.
Instead of taking the prescribed drug, I reasoned, I could take ibuprofen to relieve the pain and inflammation. That was a good idea until I read (nutritionfacts.org) that ibuprofen kills thousands every year due to the ulceration through the stomach wall that results in life-threatening bleeding. One in about 1,200 people who take this class of drugs for two months or more will die as a result.
To put this into perspective, Dr. Greger writes, “we can compare the death rate from anti-inflammatory drug side-effects to the risk associated with some well-known events. For example, it may be safer to go bungee jumping a few hundred times.” I returned to researching.
In 2006, several studies were signaling the efficacy of tart cherry juice in lowering inflammation markers. I dug deeper.
The Journal of Food Studies reported on a study that found that women aged 40-70 who drank tart cherry juice had a statistically significant difference in pain and inflammation than those who received a placebo.
In 2013, researchers at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center reported that patients who consumed two 8-ounce bottles of tart cherry juice daily for six weeks experienced a significant improvement in pain, stiffness, and physical function. The participants also showed a marked decrease in CRP, a marker of inflammation.
According to the Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology, cherries may actually be more effective than aspirin when it comes to fighting inflammation.
Hubby ordered my first case of tart cherry concentrate. Years later, seeing the benefit to me, he started drinking it to reduce the natural muscle aches that come with aging. Organic cherry concentrate shipped from the cherry state, Michigan, is expensive. But we agree that spending our lives visiting doctors’ offices is more expensive.
Research has continued, and the benefits of cherry juice are mounting.
2012, in Arthritis & Rheumatism—patients with gout who consumed cherries or drank cherry juice showed a 35% lower risk of gout attacks compared to their counterparts who didn’t. The risk of gout flare ups was 75 percent lower when cherry intake was combined with the uric-acid reducing drug, allopurinol. Participants consumed 10-12 cherries up to three times per day. (Huffpost Living Canada, August 15, 2013)
Researchers at the University of Michigan Health System concluded that tart cherries provide cardiovascular benefits equal to some medications.
In a study, the Effects of a Tart Cherry Juice Beverage on the Sleep of Older Adults with Insomnia, they took a group of people suffering from chronic insomnia and put half on cherry juice and half on red Koolaid. Those on tart cherry juice fell asleep a few minutes faster and had 17 fewer minutes of waking. The Koolaid group showed no change. Although it didn’t cure insomnia, it improved it with the only side effects being an increase in potassium, vitamin A (eye health), and an abundance of antioxidants.
If this article is of interest, I encourage further reading on nutrionfacts.org along with hundreds of other studies available on the internet. We are in an age of fact-check, especially when it comes to decisions about our health.