About 1% of the Western population is affected by this complex form of arthritis, at some point in their life. Gout is more common in men, and is characterized by sudden and severe episodes of pain, redness, and tenderness of joints. The joint at the base of the big toe is often the area which is mostly affected. Women become prone to this condition after menopause. A buildup of uric acid leads to the formation of sharp, needle-like urate crystals which accumulate in the joint(s) or surrounding tissues. This causes inflammation, intense joint pain, and lingering discomfort.
How Do Cherries Help in the Treatment of Gout?
The high vitamin C content of cherries makes them a favorable remedy for treating gout. Vitamin C lowers the elevated levels of uric acid, and thus curbs progression of the condition. It helps to reduce pain, and also aids in preventing gout attacks.
Anthocyanins (natural flavonoids) present in cherries, bear anti-inflammatory properties, and help in alleviating joint inflammation. According to a study, when 25 mg of anthocyanins is consumed, it helps the body to inhibit the enzymes involved in the process of tissue swelling. It is known that darker varieties of cherries contain about 80-300 mg of anthocyanins, per serving.
Cherries are a rich source of potassium, which helps the body to get rid of the excess amounts of uric acid. It also aids in maintaining fluid balance and kidney function. The hard urate crystals are converted into the liquid form by potassium, so that, the kidneys can eliminate them through urine.
In addition, it has been observed that cherries inhibit the enzyme xanthine oxidase, which is involved in the production of urate. This prevents further buildup of urate in the joints, thereby preventing gout attacks.
Apart from including cherries in the diet, there are other self-care measures that may help manage the symptoms of gout. For example, applying ice or cold compress to the aching area, or soaking the feet in Epsom salt, helps to reduce the pain.
In addition to cherries, strawberries, citrus fruits, tomatoes, green peppers, and greens are also effective in providing relief. These foods are rich in vitamin C, and thus reduce inflammation. Exercises also help in relieving or preventing gout, and other joint problems. Drinking plenty of water (8-10 glasses) daily helps in getting rid of toxins from the body and in reducing uric acid concentration.
Disclaimer: This HolisticZine article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice.