There's a cherry that appears to promise some relief for the estimated 27 million Americans who suffer from osteoarthritis. These patients have searched for pain relief from many quarters, and it is interesting that a new natural product may indeed offer pain-relief for this common and debilitating form of arthritis.
A 2007 pilot study at the Baylor Research Institute (Houston) showed that more than half of those in the trial experienced a significant improvement in pain and function after taking tart cherry for eight weeks. Osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis, is considered degenerative and typically affects the hands, feet, spine, and large weight-bearing joints, such as the hips and knees. Patients with osteoarthritis of the knees were enrolled in this pilot study to assess potential efficacy of supplements made from Montmorency tart cherries. The preparation is made up of ground whole cherries and is provided to trial participants as a soft gelatin capsule.
“The current treatment of osteoarthritis is largely focused on controlling pain through use of over-the-counter acetaminophen or prescription pain medications as well as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs,” explains John J. Cush, M.D., rheumatologist and principal investigator of the study. “These conventional medications are widely used, but have not been shown to alter the natural history of the disease. In some cases, overuse may contribute to significant gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, hematologic, renal and liver toxicity.”
That's why it is nice to see studies being conducted on a natural product for this problem; many people have had success with tart cherry long before this trial. Its surprising to me that every supplier of tart cherry has received warning letters from the FDA about their label claims. I would think that there is now enough evidence for tart cherry to allow some kind of supplement statement referring to pain relief in osteoarthritis.
Baylor Research Institute together with the Arthritis Care & Research Institute is currently enrolling patients in a second study, which will test cherry pills versus placebo in an eight week double blind study.