Cherries for Health: Better Than Aspirin?

October 26, 2014
Leo Galland, M.D.
Author, Founder

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
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:
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.”

Report from the World Juice Conference – 2013

We  are cherry growers and processors here in Creston, B.C.  Five years ago, we anticipated the decline of the fresh market and began researching value-added opportunities for our fruit and invented and designed a proprietary juice extraction machine new to the juicing industry.   A huge loss in the fresh market in 2009, coupled with tremendous rain storms that left 200,000 pounds of split fruit on the trees, catapulted our need to commercialize our juice business.  In 2010 we won 2nd place and the funding to bring our products to market in the B.C. Innovations Council CAT (Commercialization of Agricultural Technology) competition.

We have returned from Cologne, Germany where we placed second in the category “Best New Nectar or Juice” for our Red Apple Juice. But the wonderful thing was that the other company that won was a Canadian company as well – Haskapa from Nova Scotia which is truly a new juice with the haskap berry. It was so great to have two Canadian companies standing together in the top two for the award and even more exciting for Tabletree being the second time that we stood on the world stage having won “Best Pure Juice Product” last year for our Black Cherry juice.

The awards were presented at the World Juice Conference in Cologne, Germany. Among the attendees were close to 350 participants from 55 countries from many of the top juice companies in the world and those corporations and agencies that support the juice industry – it truly was the world of juice.

Loss of Farmers – A Worldwide Concern

Of particular note, was the concern expressed during the conference in presentation after presentation of what would appear to be a worldwide problem of the decreasing numbers of farmers that the world is losing due to their inability to make a decent living. Locally, we lost one-half of the fruit growers we had last year and more have told us that they are giving up farming completely due to their inability to make a living.  Banks are not funding “agriculture”.  Here in Canada, we spoke directly to a major bank at a conference we attended and they said straight out that they were not loaning to agriculture, but looking at tech companies.  Honesty on the part of the financial institution, but who will feed them in the future?

Last year when we attended the conference in Spain we were disappointed that they didn’t focus on the farmer and their value chain and this year it was evident that the tides had turned and not only was North America experiencing the demise of the farmer, but the world as well. Many of the participants were eager to talk to us and we were used as an example during one of the keynote speeches during the conference by a large processor from Chile that we had befriended while we were there.   He spoke to us about the need to increase the price of food in general, but we were concerned in that usually when the price of food increases, that increase is not passed down to the farmer, but to those links in the value chain above the farmer.

Round table discussions were held wherein solutions to the value chain problem were discussed. Sitting at our table were leaders in the industry – many multi-million dollar processors from Spain, Chile, Denmark, and India, senior representatives from the worldwide Fair Trade organization, and senior representatives from U.K Walmart and others from all over the world. We were in awe just being able to sit next to these people in a room, let alone have them be interested in what we had to say. “The world” listened intently to us as we answered their questions. They wanted to know about our experiences and reasons for stepping up one rung in the value chain ladder from farmer to processor, and they recognized our story as being one of desperation to save the family farm.  We asked them to produce what the public is looking for – healthy quality juices and to pass any price increase down to the farmer.  We asked them to invest in agriculture and more specifically, the farmer themselves, to ensure that the farmer is profiting and thereby giving back to the economy of their respective countries.

One large processor from Spain stepped in and stated the solution should be more large corporate farms and the streamlining of operations through these large entities. It was so refreshing and hit close to the heart to hear all but one of those major players at the table speak out in defense of the small rural farmer and the need for countries to support the small farmer and not the corporate farms.

One wonderful man from India after hearing our presentation and then the executive from Spain, spoke up and said that India paid their farmers first. He said that the dairy farmers in India were the poorest in the country – that many could not even afford to have their own families drink the milk they produced. But little by little, they formed a service that picked up the milk from the farmer and the farmers with even just one cup of milk would come out with it and they would pay the farmer and take the milk and chill it or turn it into cheese and they would sell it. These farmers flourished and soon became the richest in India and India’s production of milk and cheese increased significantly and most importantly the economy of the country improved because the farmer was giving back to the community they lived in by the purchasing of goods and services. And this was all from supporting the farmer. Could it really be that simple? – one would hope so.

 Access to Funding

We were wined and dined by many and we met a wonderful senior government official from South Africa who was enticing us to move our operations there.  The government in South Africa has the ability to grant 80% of the capital needed to build a facility (non-repayable) if we worked with a South African company there.  In her words “I would love for you to move to South Africa so I could give you some money!”  I don’t think we would be interested in such an offer, but it saddened us to think that we hadn’t been approached by our own country yet for the same proposition, other than in an application process that will take a team of accountants and grant writers a millennium to complete. 

We now have two World Class juices, we have the world looking at our products, and we can’t seem to find support for our invention and expansion other than foreign countries, foreign investors and foreign companies.  The sadness comes in realizing that in order for us to expand our company we will probably have to take a foreign offer in order to survive.   But we will look positive towards the future in the hopes that this can be attained – that our country will assist the farmers directly and that our company can stay here in Canada in support of our community and the rest of the farmers.  If we can expand our facility to include fruit from other farmers then that would be an end to a goal that we set in the beginning which was to support our fellow farmers as well.

Concerns of the Consumer

The “world of juice” is concerned and they are listening to the consumers demand and need to reduce their sugar intake.  As it relates to the consumption of juices, an example was given of the different countries portion sizes when ordering juices.  In North America when you order juice in a restaurant, you can be given a huge eight to ten ounce glass and in European countries, it can be considerably smaller.  The smaller amount is the preferred portion size when considering the effects of sugar.  

Specifically noted was the need to educate people in proper portion sizes when consuming all juices.  The health benefit of juices can be achieved in as little as an ounce of juice as is evident in our Tabletree Black Cherry juice.  At Tabletree we encourage our consumers to use only an ounce a day and we are seeing wonderful testimonials from people being helped from everything from gout, to arthritis, to emphysema, to mesothelioma, MS, and Crones Disease.   The health benefits of our juice in these instances far outweigh any damage being done by the natural sugars we would presume.  

 World Water Supply

Another topic of major concern was the shortage of water in many countries. It was suggested that the next wars could very well be fought over water. One of the key-note speakers noted that Egypt had built huge air conditioned facilities for their cows which required water for their operations as well as water for fodder for the cows. As their water levels can be measured from the ground, it was suggested that because of these huge massive facilities use of water, that where there was once hundreds of years of water, there is now only a century of water left. Saudia Arabia is not building any more factories because of their decreasing water supplies as well.  Some countries, that are currently experiencing bad air and water quality are looking to the future and purchasing large tracts of land in other countries in anticipation of possible future problems.

From that, it seemed obvious to us that we here in Canada need to protect what we take for granted – our water – and that we need to protect it for our future generations.  Our most valuable resources are our children and our water.

We feel very fortunate having been given the opportunity to attend not once, but twice, such a prestigious affair and you can imagine our excitement when we were asked by the Senior partner of the company that presented the first day’s workshop if we could be interviewed for a chapter in his next book about entrepreneurs and their path to success.  We are still traveling that path, but the ride has been a wonderful one to say the least.

Tabletree Red Apple Juice Wins Second at World Juice Awards – 2013

Tabletree once again, stepped on the world stage but this time with our Red Apple juice.  We came in second in the category “Best New Juice”.   But the wonderful thing was that coming in first was another Canadian company Haskapa with their haskap juice which is truly a “new” juice.  Congratulations to Haskapa and how wonderful to meet a new friend.  And how wonderful to have two World Award winning juices!

We had a wonderful time at the conference that was held in Cologne, Germany.  We are busy coming up with a new juice as next year the conference is being held in Paris, France.

Tabletree goes International

We are so happy to announce that Tabletree products will be available at Yoke’s Fresh Market in Ponderay/Sandpoint, Idaho this Friday, July 20th.  Look for it and all the other great specialty products when you are visting Sandpoint.