Arthritis is the condition of inflammation in the body joints such as knee, hips, ankles, knuckles, wrist, etc.
This inflammation causes pain and poses difficulty in the mobility of these body parts.
The inflammation may be caused by degradation of cartilages, attack by our own immune system, infections or excessive uric acid levels in the body.
Some of the common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, septic arthritis, and gout.
The risk factors associated with arthritis are age, weight, weak immune system, injury etc.
Also, most type of arthritis is observed to be more common in women than men. Gout is found to be common among men.
The treatment of this disease is done mainly through pain-relieving drugs like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or analgesics along with exercise.
In extreme cases, surgery might be the only option left. Also, the drugs used in arthritis treatment have many side-effects like stomach ulcers, bleeding, high blood pressure, kidney problems, etc.
The demand for natural remedies for arthritis is on rising due to the side-effects of the drugs used for the treatment.
One such potential for natural remedy is seen in cherries.
What is cherry?
Cherry is a fruit obtained from the tree of genus Prunus, native to the Northern hemisphere. These fruits have many varieties.
The cherries used for eating or cooking mostly belong to sweet cherry (Prunus avium) or sour cherry (Prunus cerasus).
Cherries are brightly red/purple colored fruits having high nutrient content and a very good taste. These are rich in anti-oxidants, fibre, vitamins A & C and many other components.
This fruit is a popular ingredient of cakes, jams, jellies, ice-creams and other such food items. Cherries are considered a delicacy all over the world.
5 Benefits of Cherries in Arthritis
Cherries are rich source of anthocyanins (pigment molecules-give cherry its deep red/purple colour), Vitamin A, Vitamin C, carotenoids, melatonin, quercetin, Potassium, hydroxylcinnamates, fibre etc.
These compounds enable cherries with anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. These properties are helpful in the natural treatment of arthritis.
1.Cherries have anti-inflammatory action
Most types of arthritis have inflammatory responses in the synovial fluid of the joints that leads to pain and swelling.
Reduction of inflammation is the foremost action required in the treatment of arthritis pain.
Cherries have been studied to find that they have anti-inflammatory potential in arthritis.
The anthocyanins from the cherries, particularly, cyanidins have been found to exhibit anti-inflammatory responses.
Sour cherry has been found to reduce inflammation significantly in rheumatoid arthritis patients.
It does so by regulating the pro-inflammatory signalling pathways. It decreases the expression of pro-inflammatory molecules like, TNF-α and interleukins.
Sweet cherries have anti-inflammatory action as well.
They also lower the expression of inflammatory molecules and thus can be used for prevention and treatment of inflammation.
Sweet and sour cherries also have significant anti-inflammatory activity by inhibition of cyclooxygenase enzymes (COX enzymes) that play an important role in some inflammatory actions.
What does it mean? It means consumption of cherries can be very effective in reducing the inflammation related to arthritis. This inflammation can also be prevented in healthy people thus, preventing arthritis altogether.
2. Cherries have significant anti-oxidant action
Oxidative stress plays an important role in some arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
The scavenging of these reactive oxygen species is crucial in order to prevent the degeneration of these tissues.
Cherries are loaded with antioxidants like anthocyanins, polyphenols, Vitamin C, melatonin etc.
Sour cherries are known to have very high antioxidant activity.
The polyphenols like quercetin, flavanones possess the ability to reduce oxidative stress.
These compounds work on enzymatic pathways that produce free radicals such as lipid peroxidation pathway by inhibiting them.
The anthocyanins also possess significant anti-oxidative capacity.
Melatonin, found in the cherries is oxidative stress reducing compound as well.
Cherries have been effectively able to reduce arthritis symptoms in the animal model by improving the anti-oxidative capacity in them.
Positive effects of treatment with cherry juice have also been seen in osteoarthritis patients.
What does it mean? It means use of cherry in diet can be very effective in reducing the oxidative stress related to several types of arthritis. Cherries are endowed with many anti-oxidants that are able to scavenge free radicals from the body. They are also able to interfere with the pathways that produce the reactive oxygen species. The reduction of oxidative stress can provide relief from arthritis symptoms as well prevent arthritis occurrence.
3.Cherry juice has pain relieving potential
Pain is an inevitable consequence of arthritis. Reduction of pain is of paramount importance in the treatment of arthritis.
Cherry juice has been found to be very effective in muscle pain related to many conditions including arthritis.
What does it mean? Consumption of cherry juice can be used as an effective measure to reduce the pain related to arthritis.
4. Cherries are able to reduce uric acid in body
Gout is a type of arthritis that is caused due to an excessive build-up of uric acid in the body. Uric acid crystals are deposited in between the joints and cause stiffness, redness and severe pain.
Cherries have shown to be very effective in reducing the uric acid levels in hyperuricemic (excessive uric acid in blood) rats.
It does so by inhibiting certain enzyme activity leading to lower uric acid production.
Cherry consumption has shown its ability to reduce gout attacks in some studies.
The consumption of cherry has also been effective in reducing uric acid levels in healthy people.
This indicates the efficacy of cherries in reducing uric acid production in the body.
Vitamin C is also known to be effective against uric acid levels in the body. Cherry being a Vitamin C source further proves its efficacy against uric acid and gout.
The anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant action of this fruit reduces the pain related to gout arthritis.
What does it mean? It means cherry is a very effective way of reducing gout arthritis. Its ability to reduce uric acid production in the body is useful in preventing gout attacks. At the same time, its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant action provides relief in the pain related to this arthritis.
5. Cherries can help in weight management
Weight management is an important factor in the treatment of arthritis.
Obesity can be an important risk factor in development of certain types of arthritis such as osteoarthritis.
In order to prevent such arthritis development, it is important to maintain a healthy weight.
Treatment of arthritis also includes the requirement to lose weight in case of obese patients.
Fibres help in decreasing indirect intake of calories by reducing hunger and keeping the state of fullness (of stomach) for a longer duration.This assists in weight loss.
Cherry is rich in fibre has the same effect and therefore can effectively help in weight management.
At the same time, cherry provides the body with many essential nutrients that prevent nutrient deficiency in the body.
What does it mean? Cherry can be included in diet to manage weight as well. It can assist in weight loss due to its fibre content. This management of weight is essential in arthritis affected by obesity.
How much Cherries to eat for Arthritis?
Cherry is a versatile fruit and can be taken in many ways to procure its benefits.
About a handful of cherry eaten every day can be very efficient against arthritis. It can be eaten as it is or in the form of fruit salad.
Jams or jellies of cherries can also be taken. Cherry juice is a popular way of its consumption in arthritis.
Cherry capsules are also available in the market. These capsules contain its antioxidant extract. A capsule per day (about 100mg antioxidants) should be more than enough.
Being a natural food product, cherry is generally a safe for consumption. However, there can be side-effects due to certain compounds present in cherry.
Cherries grown using pesticides should be avoided. Pesticides can lower the nutrient content in the fruit and may also render them with harmful compounds. These harmful pesticides can cause serious damage to the body, from vomiting to cancer.
Cherry can cause allergy. People allergic to birch pollen may be allergic to cherries. The allergy may cause sinus pain, facial redness, itching, hoarseness, headache etc.
Cherry can cause gas in stomach. Quercetin, an anti-oxidant present in cherries can cause gas in stomach leading to nausea and vomiting if taken in excess.
Excess intake of cherries can cause sleepiness. Melatonin, present in cherries is a sleep-inducing compound. Excess intake of cherries therefore can make one feel depressed, drowsy and dizzy.
Over-cooked cherries are not very effective. Cherries used in cooked items can have very low effectiveness as over-cooking promotes loss of nutrients.
In accordance with the above studies and findings, it can be concluded that cherry is a very effective natural remedy for arthritis.
The overall anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory action of cherries plays the major role in treatment of arthritis. Moreover, cherries have efficacy against uric acid production which is useful against gout arthritis.
Cherries can also be useful in weight management, which is an essential component of arthritis treatment.
The high concentration of anti-oxidants and other such compounds in this fruit enables it with extraordinary properties against arthritis.
Cherries can be used for treatment as well as prevention of arthritis.