This page about cherries and gout, was last reviewed or updated, on 8 October 2012.
Do cherries cure gout? This intriguing question was scientifically examined in 1950, when a Texan doctor with a Ph.D, had a study published in an academic journal.
He reported : " In twelve cases of gout the uric acid of the blood has been decreased to its usual average value, and no attacks of gouty arthritis have occurred, on a non-restrictive diet in all 12 cases, as a result of eating one half pound of fresh or canned cherries per day."
The 12 people in his study, ate ½ lb of red, black or yellow cherries, (fresh or canned) or they drank the equivalent in cherry juice. In all 12, blood uric acid levels fell to normal. The Texan doctor himself said eating 6 - 8 cherries a day ended his gout attacks. Others too, have said that cherries halt gout flares – i.e. after a long period waiting for another attack which has not come.
Whether cherries cure gout to some degree for everyone is an open question. Some studies have reported promising results, and there are testimonials that cherries cure gout, but many posters to gout internet forums aren’t sure or don’t think so. Along with high quantity water drinking and apple cider vinegar, cherries are the best known natural remedy for gout. Why is there at least the promise that cherries cure gout?
The reason is cherries contain a sub class of flavonoids called anthocyanidins which can both block pain and reduce levels of uric acid. The same anthocyanidins are also used in the manufacture of aspirin, ibuprofen and other NSAIDs, so there is a surprising similiarity between cherries and NSAIDs. How could cherries cure gout?
They reduce uric acid levels possibly because their anthocyanidins inhibit xanthine oxidase, an enzyme involved in the production of uric acid. Thus the body makes less uric acid and there is less to expel.
These anthocyanidins are the substances that colour (color) many fruits and vegetables so they give cherries their red, or black, colour (color). Cherries are high in an anthocyanidin called cyanidin (about 75mg per 100 grams) and contain smaller amounts of two other anthocyanidins named pelargonidin and peonidin. (Other known anthocyanidins are delphinidin, malvidin, and petunidin). Not many have heard of them, but it's a racing certainty that you will hear more about these substances in the future.
Cherries for gout studies A Michigan State University study found that the anthocyanidins and other substances (including quercetin), in Montmorency tart (sour) cherries ease pain and inflammation. Cherries have not been found to cause side effects.
And a small study conducted by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in the U.S. found that five hours after ten female volunteers (no males) had a cherry breakfast of 45 Bing (sweet) cherries the following changes had occurred: their blood uric acid levels had fallen slightly, (-0.5 mg/dL; -0.297 mmol/L) and the levels of urate (uric acid) in the urine had risen significantly.
The study found that the effect of the amount of cherries on indicators (markers) of inflammation was not as significant, but still encouraging. In other studies on rats, cherries have also been found to have a positive effect on markers of inflammation. A follow up study by the ARS showed more positive results on some markers of inflammation, thus hinting again at cherries helpful effect on pain and inflammation.
The meaning of these studies is that if cherries cure gout attacks only sometimes, and alleviate them more often, they can at least bring about conditions which are known to help cure gout. i.e. more uric acid (UA) is likely to be expelled.
How much UA reduction? - 0.5 mg/dL is a useful but not a very large reduction, if you need a reduction of 4.0 mg/dL or more, to reach your uric acid target level. But that was after just one large cherry breakfast. You would probably need additional other remedies to get your uric acid levels down to the usual target of 6.0 mg/dL, at which the MSU gout crystals may dissolve.
It’s possible that other compounds in cherries work with their anthocyanidins to increase their therapeutic effect. The darker the cherries’ colour (color) (whether red or black, i.e. a darker red or a darker black), the more likely it is that they are higher in flavonoids. I've noticed that darker skinned cherries cost more, which is a good indication they are better.
Gout sufferers are also at risk for heart disease and stroke. They need to keep their heart as healthy as possible. These studies also showed positive results on some markers of heart disease.
And how about this for the best gout remedy of all time? It is true that I read this - a fellow who said he ate a piece of cherry pie when he sensed an attack coming, and it usually stopped!
Related pages you might enjoy
Go to the first of two pages about three cherry juice concentrate for gout trials, published in 2012, which had some surprisingly good news, and a disappointment.
Go to the second of two pages about the cherry juice concentrate for gout studies. Read how flares ceased for some although uric acid was still at a high level.
What do our visitors think about cherries for gout? Read their testimonials.
Click here for ideas about getting cherries into your gout diet and the other forms, such as black cherry juice for gout that you can eat or drink all year round.
There is another food with a similar amount of cyanidin as sweet cherries. It is scarcely known as a gout diet food. Read about it here.