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Tart Cherry Juice May Relieve Arthritis Knee Pain

Arthritis can be a crippling condition that inhibits mobility and causes constant pain. According to a recent joint study by researchers at the VA Medical Center and at the University of Pennsylvania, tart cherry juice may help ease the symptoms of arthritis of the knee.

The findings were published on November 9, 2011, in Arthritis Care & Research, the official journal of the American College of Rheumatology.

59 participants with arthritis participated in the study. They were split into two groups. For six weeks, one group consumed two 8 ounce bottles of tart cherry juice daily. Each bottle contained the equivalent of 45 tart cherries. The other group consumed Kool-Aid doctored with a clouding agent to resemble the cherry juice.

After the initial six week period, all of the participants went through a one week “washout” period, during which they didn’t consume either the tart cherry juice or the placebo.

The two groups then alternated for an additional six weeks. Those who had previously consumed the tart cherry juice consumed the placebo during this time, and those who had consumed the placebo consumed the tart cherry juice.

During the time the participants consumed the tart cherry juice, the researchers noted improved WOMAC (Western Ontario and McMaster University Arthritis Index) scores and significantly decreased hsCRP levels (high-sensitivity C-reactive protein). No relief of symptoms was noted during the time the participants consumed the placebo.

WOMAC is a group of standardized questionnaires assessing the pain, joint stiffness, physical, social, and emotional functioning of people with osteoarthritis of the knee and hip. C-reactive protein is a marker of inflammation and reduced levels corresponded with fewer arthritis symptoms.

Tart cherries have a high level of antioxidants. They have been associated with reducing inflammation, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, and lowering the risks of certain cancers, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and diabetes.

Be sure the tart cherry extract you consume is tested for potency. This is especially important if you’re drinking tart cherry juice, as some juices may be watered down.

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