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November 05, 2014

Gout occurs when excess uric acid crystallises in the joints. Now doctors say drinking cherry juice daily could help beat condition. The juice helps clear excess uric acid from the body in just a few hours.

By Rachel Ellis, for the Mail on Sunday

Daily drinks of cherry-juice concentrate could help thousands of patients beat gout, according to new research.

The agonising condition, which affects one in 14 men and one in 35 women in the UK, occurs when excess uric acid crystallises in the joints, especially the toes.

But now a study by Northumbria University shows that drinking a concentrate made from tart Montmorency cherries, which possess anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, helps clear excess uric acid from the body in just a few hours.

Drinking just 30ml of the concentrate with water twice a day led to lower blood uric acid levels and reduced inflammation, the study found. Experts say the research is an ‘exciting first step’ to help sufferers alleviate the condition through diet.

Treatment options currently include keeping pressure off the affected joint, the use of ice packs during attacks, and taking anti-inflammatory drugs.

In extreme cases, patients use corticosteroids. However, like all drugs, these carry the risk of side effects including heart and stomach problems, especially when used for a long time.

Medication to inhibit the formation of uric acid crystals is also prescribed but only in extreme circumstances as, again, side effects can be severe.

Some foods are high in purines, the naturally occurring chemicals that are broken down into uric acid by the body. Avoiding eating these foods – including game and oily fish – can help reduce the risk of a gout attack. Foods that contain yeast or meat extract are also high in purines.

However, this is the first time a food that actively treats the condition has been suggested. Dr Glynn Howatson, a reader in sport, exercise and rehabilitation at Northumbria University, who led the research, said: ‘The study clearly shows that uric acid is lowered following consumption of the Montmorency cherry concentrate.

‘Perhaps most importantly, only a relatively small amount is necessary to bring about the positive uric acid-lowering effects.’

In the study, published today in the Journal of Functional Foods, 12 volunteers were given a brand of Montmorency cherry concentrate called CherryActive, which was mixed with 100ml of water twice a day.

Over the next few days, their urine and blood were tested for markers of inflammation and uric acid before and after taking the cherry supplement. Researchers found that when participants drank CherryActive, it acted as a catalyst for the body to eliminate excess uric acid through the urine.

A UK Gout Society spokesman acknowledged that Montmorency cherries could help reduce uric acid levels in the body but added: ‘People with gout should go to their GP because it can be linked to other conditions such as stroke and psoriasis.’

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