The study, conducted by researchers from Oregon Health and Science University, involved 20 women aged 40-70 with inflammatory osteoarthritis. The study was presented May 30th at the American College of Sports Medicine Conference (ACSM) in San Francisco, California.
The researchers found that drinking tart cherry juice two times per day for three weeks resulted in considerable reductions in vital inflammation markers, especially for participants who had the highest inflammation levels at the start of the study.
Lead researcher of the study, Kerry Kuehl, M.D., Dr.PH., M.S., Oregon Health & Science University, said:
"With millions of Americans looking for ways to naturally manage pain, it's promising that tart cherries can help, without the possible side effects often associated with arthritis medications. I'm intrigued by the potential for a real food to offer such a powerful anti-inflammatory benefit - especially for active adults."
Osteoarthritis is the most prevalent type of arthritis. According to the Arthritis Foundation, athletes are at particular risk for developing osteoarthritis, due to excessive joint use that can a breakdown in cartilage and lead to pain and injury.
Kuehl's previous research suggests that the inflammation benefits of tart cherries, available in dried, frozen and juice forms, could be particularly important for athletes. Kuehl found that individuals who drank tart cherry juice while training for a long distance run experienced considerably less pain after exercise than those who didn't.
The antioxidant compounds in tart cherries, called anthocyanins, provide the fruit's bright color and have been associated to high antioxidant capacity and reduced inflammation, at levels similar to some popular pain medications.
A daily dose of tart cherries (as cherry extract) reduced osteoarthritis pain by over 20% in most people, according to results from a study conducted by researchers at Baylor Research Institute.
Furthermore, the antioxidant compounds in cherries have also been shown to reduce muscle and joint soreness.
Leslie Bonci, MPH, RD, CSSD, LDN, Director of Sports Nutrition at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center for Sports Medicine, said:
"Why not eat red when there's so much science to support the anti-inflammatory benefits of this Super Fruit? And for athletes whose palates prefer the tart-sweet flavor profile of tart cherries, it's the optimal ingredient."
To learn more about the body of research supporting tart cherries' pain-fighting properties click here to download The Red Report. There, you can also reference The Red Recovery Routine, a guide to help people train to manage pain with tart cherries.