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Cherries for Health: Better Than Aspirin?

October 26, 2014
Leo Galland, M.D.
Author, Founder http://www.pilladvised.com/

Cherries for Health: Better Than Aspirin?

Posted: 04/11/2011 8:16 am EDT Updated: 06/11/2011 5:12 am EDT

Sometimes the latest research on nutrition involves a substance or supplement with an obscure name that only a scientist could get excited about. But other times, there is something absolutely delicious that, it turns out, is also great for you.
Which brings us to cherries.

With cherry blossom season in the air, now is a great time to celebrate the beauty of nature and one of my favorite fruits, the cherry.
The delicious sweet and tart flavor of cherries is matched by remarkable health benefits.

Cherries are a rich source of:
vitamin C
potassium
boron, a mineral that plays an essential role in bone health, especially for women.
Cherries Fight Inflammation

Cherries are important for their ability to control inflammation. A growing body of scientific research indicates that inflammation contributes to diseases such as heart disease, arthritis, and obesity.

Sweet or tart, cherries are a powerhouse of anti-inflammatory nutrients.

A study from University of California at Davis found that regular consumption of cherries for 28 days produced a decrease in biochemical signs of inflammation in blood, including a 25 percent reduction in C-reactive protein (CRP), the most widely studied marker of inflammation. Elevation of CRP in blood is associated with an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
Learn six steps for reducing inflammation without drugs in my article: Natural Anti- Inflammatory Foods and Supplements That Help Arthritis
Cherries Better Than Aspirin for Pain?

According to research done at Michigan State University the anthocyanins that make cherries red could also help relieve pain more effectively than aspirin. The study found that anthocyanins were potent antioxidants that could prevent oxidative damage and also inhibited enzymes called cyclooxygenase-1 and -2 (Cox 1 and 2), which is similar in the way anti- inflammatory drugs seek to reduce pain. The study appeared in the Journal of Natural Products published by the American Chemical Society.

Lead researcher Muralee G. Nair, Ph.D., Professor at Michigan State University College of Agriculture & Natural Resources, noted about this cherry effect “It is as good as ibuprofen and some of the nonsteriodal anti-inflammatory drugs.” Nair said that his lab results indicate that consuming 20 tart cherries could provide anti-inflammatory benefits.

Finding a natural way to reduce pain is important, given the serious side effects from common pain relievers called NSAIDs, examples of which include Advil, Motrin, Aleve and aspirin. Learn about these surprising side effects in my article “Why Medication Can Be Dangerous to Your Health “

Cherry Juice for Workout Recovery

A presentation at the American College of Sports Medicine Conference found that drinking cherry juice helped reduce pain after exercise for long distance runners. This research, from the Oregon Health & Science University, indicated that cherries could act like medications that runners use to reduce inflammation after workouts.

Publishing their findings in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, the researchers explain: “Considering the natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant capacity of tart cherries, it is plausible that cherry consumption before and during strenuous exercise may have a protective effect to reduce muscle damage and pain.”

“For most runners, post-race treatment consists of RICE (rest, ice, compression and elevation) and traditional NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs),” said Kerry Kuehl, M.D., a sports medicine physician and principal study investigator, who added: “But NSAIDS can have adverse effects — negative effects you may be able to avoid by using a natural, whole food alternative, like cherry juice, to reduce muscle inflammation before exercise.” Please see References below for the link to the full text of this interesting study.
Reducing pain in sports would be a great benefit, given the pain that some professional athletes go through, which you can learn more about in: “ Football and Painkillers “ (See Below).

Cherries and Gout

Another study from the University of California at Davis found that a single dose of cherries reduced the blood level of uric acid in healthy women. Excess uric acid causes gout, a very painful type of arthritis. The use of cherries to prevent gout is well established in Western folk medicine.

You can enjoy the benefit of cherries all year round with unsweetened cherry juice, unsweetened cherry juice concentrate, or frozen organic pitted cherries, which make a delicious snack or dessert.

And don’t forget about incorporating anti-inflammatory foods like cherries into daily life. Here is a cherry recipe from my book, The Fat Resistance Diet, an anti-inflammatory program featuring foods that help cut inflammation.

Cinnamon Lemon Poached Pears with Cherry Syrup
2 Ripe Pears
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1/8 Cup Chopped Almonds
1 Cup of Water
2 Sprigs of Mint
1 Tablespoon Cherry Concentrate

Peel and core pears. Put pear, water, cherry concentrate, lemon juice and cinnamon in a saucepan. Cover and simmer for 7-10 minutes or until fork tender. With a slotted spoon remove and plate pears. Simmer liquid until syrup is reduced to desired consistency and spoon on pears. Top with chopped almonds and mint. Serves two.
Best Health,
Leo Galland, M.D.

Leo Galland, M.D. is a board-certified internist, author and internationally recognized leader in integrated medicine. Dr. Galland is the founder of Pill Advised, a web application for learning about medications, supplements and food.
For links in article go to:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/leo-galland-md/cherry-season-fight-pain-_b_844654.html
Football and Painkillers

Collisions and bone-jarring injuries caused by football lead to chronic pain and use of painkilling drugs.

Retired NFL players use painkillers at a much higher rate than the rest of us, according to new research conducted by investigators at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

The researchers say the brutal collisions and bone-jarring injuries associated with football often cause long-term pain, which contributes to continued use and abuse of painkilling medications.

The study is published online in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence. It involved 644 former NFL players who retired from football between 1979 and 2006. Researchers asked them about their overall health, level of pain, history of injuries, concussions and use of prescription pain pills.

The study found that 7 percent of the former players were currently using painkilling opioid drugs. That’s more than four times the rate of opioid use in the general population. Opioids are commonly prescribed for their analgesic, or pain-relieving, properties. Medications that fall within this class of drugs include morphine, codeine (Tylenol with Codeine), oxycodone (Percocet), and hydrocodone (Vicodin), (More on Opiods: Opioid Risks: Codeine, Oxycodone, and Tramadol)

“We asked about medications they used during their playing careers and whether they used the drugs as prescribed or whether they had ever taken them in a different way or for different reasons,” says principal investigator Linda B. Cottler, PhD, professor of epidemiology in psychiatry at Washington University. “More than half used opioids during their NFL careers, and 71 percent had misused the drugs. That is, they had used the medication for a different reason or in a different way than it was prescribed, or taken painkillers that were prescribed for someone else.”

Those who misused the drugs during their playing days were more likely to continue misusing them after retiring from football. Some 15 percent of those who misused the drugs as active players still were misusing them in retirement. Only 5 percent of former players who took the drugs as prescribed misused them after they retired from the NFL.

Cottler, director of the Epidemiology and Prevention Research Group in the Department of Psychiatry, says it’s not clear from the study whether retired players became dependent on the drugs. What is clear from the survey, she says, is that retired NFL players continue to live with a lot of pain.

“The rate of current, severe pain is staggering,” she says. “Among the men who currently use prescription opioids — whether misused or not — 75 percent said they had severe pain, and about 70 percent reported moderate-to-severe physical impairment.” (Learn More About Painkillers: FDA Warns on Tylenol, Acetaminophen Risks)

Pain was one of the main predictors of current misuse. Another was undiagnosed concussion. Retired NFL players in the study experienced an average of nine concussions each. Some 49 percent had been diagnosed with a concussion at some point during their playing careers, but 81 percent suspected they had concussions that were not diagnosed. Some players believed they may have had up to 200 concussions during their playing days.

“Many of these players explained that they didn’t want to see a physician about their concussions at the time,” says Simone M. Cummings, PhD, a senior scientist in psychiatry who conducted phone interviews with the former players. “These men said they knew if they reported a concussion, they might not be allowed to play. And if you get taken out of a game too many times, you can lose your spot and get cut from the team.”

She says players with suspected-but-undiagnosed concussions reported they borrowed pills from teammates, friends or relatives to treat the pain themselves, thus misusing opioids in an attempt to remain in the NFL. Although 37 percent of the retired players reported that they had received opioids only from a doctor, the other 63 percent who took the drugs during their NFL careers admitted that on occasion they got the medication from someone other than a physician.

Retired players currently misusing opioid drugs also are more likely to be heavy drinkers, according to Cottler.
“So these men are at elevated risk for potential overdose,” she says. “They reported more than 14 drinks a week, and many were consuming at least 20 drinks per week, or the equivalent of about a fifth of liquor.”

The ESPN sports television network commissioned the study, which also was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The ESPN program “Outside the Lines” spoke informally to many retired players about their use of painkillers.

The researchers say offensive linemen had particularly high rates of use and misuse of opioids.

“The offensive linemen were twice as likely as other players to use or misuse prescription pain medicines during their NFL careers,” Cottler says. “In addition, this group tends to be overweight and have cardiovascular problems, so they represent a group of former players whose health probably should be monitored closely.”

In fact, Cottler says it would be a good idea to continue monitoring everyone who has played in the NFL. She says this study revealed that some 47 percent of retired players reported having three or more serious injuries during their NFL careers, and 61 percent said they had knee injuries. Over half, 55 percent, reported that an injury ended their careers.

“These are elite athletes who were in great physical condition when their playing careers began,” she says. “At the start of their careers, 88 percent of these men said they were in excellent health. By the time they retired, that number had fallen to 18 percent, primarily due to injuries. And after retirement, their health continued to decline. Only 13 percent reported that they currently are in excellent health. They are dealing with a lot of injuries and subsequent pain from their playing days. That’s why they continue to use and misuse pain medicines.”

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