PhotoTired of those perpetual aches and pains? Does it hurt to do simple things like.... exist? Well, if you suffer from aching joints and chronic inflammation, pop a couple of cherries in your mouth.

And not some nasty cherry flavored pain concoction, but actual cherries. According to Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) tart cherries instead of sweet ones can help eliminate all types of joint pains and discomfort.

Reported at the American College of Sports Medicine Conference, in San Francisco, researchers said that tart cherries may assist in the reduction of joint pain as well as arthritis. Reason being, is tart cherries have the "highest anti-inflammatory content of any food", which can be an asset when it comes to managing pain, specifically those with osteoarthritis (OA). 

Wear and tear

OA is wear and tear on the joints, and usually happens to people as they grow older.

"With millions of Americans looking for ways to naturally manage pain, it's promising that tart cherries can help, without the possible side effects often associated with arthritis medications," said Kerry Kuehl, M.D at Oregon Health & Science University, and the studies lead researcher. "I'm intrigued by the potential for a real food to offer such a powerful anti-inflammatory benefit – especially for active adults."

According to the National Library of Medicine, OA occurs in both men and women when they hit their mid 50s, and pain symptoms can be infrequent, acute or chronic.

OA can also be hereditary and those who are overweight may suffer from the disease regardless of age.  Also, those who do heavy squatting, kneeling or lifting through work or exercise, also have a high risk of getting the annoyingly painful joint condition.

OHSU conducted a study of twenty women between the ages of 40 and 70, who all suffered from inflammatory Osteoarthritis. The study revealed that drinking tart cherry juice twice each day for a three week period led to substantial decreases in "important inflammation markers," especially for women sufferers.

Good for athletes

Scientists have also suggested that athletes use tart cherries. A previous study showed that drinking the tart cherry juice while athletes were training for a marathon or long distance run, said they had less pain after working out than those who didn't drink the cherry juice.

A past study conducted by Baylor Research Institute confirmed that daily use of tart cherries helped lower osteoarthritis pain by more than 20 percent for most men and women, and also for athletes while they're recovering from joint soreness or muscle pain.

Some sport nutritionists and trainers have incorporated tart cherries into training regiments for athletes, namely Leslie Bonci who is a sports nutritionist at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center for Sports Medicine.  She says cherries are a wonderful way to manage pain and are far better than awful tasting oral medications, that sometimes have side effects. And tart cherries are also better than messy ointments or joint creams.

"Why not eat red when there's so much science to support the anti-inflammatory benefits of this Super Fruit?" she said. "And for athletes whose palates prefer the tart-sweet flavor profile of tart cherries, it's the optimal ingredient."

So the next time you're in the grocery store, pick up some tart cherries for your joint pains. Even if you haven't been diagnosed with osteoarthritis, they'll still make a pretty decent snack.

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