This page about cherries and gout, the first trial of the 2012 published study, was last reviewed or updated on 5 March 2013
This article discusses a report of three trials about cherry juice concentrate for gout. The first trial is described on this page. To read about the 2nd and 3rd, click on the link at the bottom.
It’s not often we get scientific studies about a natural remedy for gout, but a fascinating study about cherries and gout was published in early 2012 (1) - the work of two medicine' professors. In these small trials they investigated the effects of cherry juice concentrate, not cherries, on uric acid levels and on gout attacks (flares), and tried to find out why cherry juice can have a positive effect on gout. They also tested pomegranate juice concentrate to see how it compared with cherry juice concentrate.
The objective was to also examine, scientifically, if cherry juice is helpful in gout attacks prophylaxis (prevention), as so many people report. It was the first scientific study of cherry juice concentrate for gout. Few gout sufferers realise (realize) why cherry juice concentrate is probably the best form, but I explain why on the second page about these trials (link below).
The professors’ findings about cherries and gout were excellent news, but serum (blood) uric acid only fell by a very small amount – nothing like the fall in a previous cherries and gout trial conducted by the Agricultural Research Service in the U.S. But the effect of cherry juice concentrate for gout inflammation was so good that in one study in this report, 56% (5 of 9 trialists) were able to discontinue either Celebrex (celecoxib) or the NSAID Indomethacin. And the overall number of flares fell, including the number in some trial patients who were not taking a medication.
CHERRY STUDY 1 - GOUT FLARES DOWN IN SOME PATIENTS WITH CHERRY JUICE CONCENTRATE
Study 1 compared the effects on gout flares (attacks) of 100 % natural tart (sour) cherry juice concentrate (which I’ll call for brevity’s sake, CJC) on nine patients.In four months: Five of nine patients managed to stop Celebrex or Indomethacin. Two of six, who were not taking uric acid lowering therapy (ULT), stopped flares and two more of these six reduced them. A further two of the six had previously had only one or two attacks a year, and seemed to make progress in the four months of the trial.Its biggest success was to halt attacks, and end taking celebrex, in someone who previously had three attacks a month.
Five of nine didn’t get an attack during the study, but had suffered previous attacks. Four of nine still suffered attacks, but their frequency seemed to be falling.
How did pomegranate juice for gout perform? Not very well. Pomegranate juice concentrate, also 100% natural, (which I’ll call PJC), was tested in this study on five patients. It has been touted as good for gout but in this study it ranked behind cherry juice in halting or reducing gout attacks. In fact, on its own, it didn’t halt any, unlike CJC.
Pomegranate juice concentrate (taken daily in an amount equal to the juice of one pomegranate) may have succeeded in reducing attacks in one of the two trialist gout patients who only took PJC, no meds.
Three patients were also on colchicine and/or allopurinol. They all seemed to reduce attacks.But four of five still had flares, and the one who didn’t was a four months/one year comparison, which meant four months was not long enough to make an accurate comparison In a petri dish (see study 3 below), PJC even appeared to stimulate a cytokine associated with gout’s inflammation.
Among the nine taking the CJC with or without meds the number of flares over 4 months fell from nearly 5.0 down to 1.56 by the end of the 4 month trial on the CJC regimen of two tablespoons a day. On PJC it fell from 5.06 to 3.60 after 4 months on two tablespoons a day.
Good for gout flares, but not uric acid In Study 1 we see examples of gout flares going away on CJC, but with scarcely a fall in uric acid. Serum uric acid fell by only 0.20 mg/dL from an average of 8.37 mg/dL to an average of 8.17 mg/dL. i.e. about 2.4%. And over quite a long period - four months. This fall was not enough to be statistically significant. It means nothing.
The failure of serum (blood) uric acid to really fall was a disappointment. In Ludwig Blau’s pioneering 1950 Texas study about fresh and canned cherries for gout, uric acid fell, and in the 2003 U.S. Agricultural Research Service study, trialists' uric acid fell by a useful amount - 0.50 mg/dL - in only five hours after eating 45 sweet Bing cherries for breakfast.
But in this first study it only fell by 0.20 mg/dL which is not much in four months. The amount of cherry juice concentrate they consumed was the equivalent of 90 – 120 cherries a day, (45-60 per tablespoon) which is a lot of cherries, at least twice those eaten in the ARS trial (45 sweet cherries). Maybe there is an, as yet unknown, treatment difference between cherries for gout, and cherry juice for gout, as concentrate.
And curiously, pomegranate juice concentrate made uric acid fall by more in its five patients. By 1.31 mg/dL, from 7.45 mg/dL to 6.14 mg/dL.
That’s 17.6% which sounds like a freak result.Cherry juice concentrate had more of an anti inflammation effect.
Study 1 Dosage One tablespoon of 100% natural cherry, or pomegranate juice concentrate, twice daily. It’s the stuff you add to water when you want to make a cherry juice drink, but here it was taken neat and it’s only made from cherries, no additives. That should be equal to 90 – 120 cherries. Or for pomegranate juice, one tablespoon twice a day is the juice of one pomegranate.
(1) Schlesinger N, Schlesinger M, (2012) Pilot Studies of Cherry Juice Concentrate for Gout Flare Prophylaxis. J Arthritis 1:101. doi:10.4172/jahs.1000101