July 9, 2014
It’s a bumper crop of tart pie cherries this year in Park Hill despite the snowstorm that threatened the crop last Mother’s Day. There are few things more pleasant than standing atop a ladder harvesting fruit. Well perhaps there are more pleasant things but it’s relative; try harvesting a ground crop like radishes and you’ll love picking fruit.
We’ve got so many cherries on our block this year that I went down to Cherry Creek this morning and bought a fancy German gadget to pit the cherries, a contraption that is called a ‘stoner.’
The package promised one can pit 24 pounds of cherries per hour. Or shall I say stone that many cherries?
I’ve written a number of articles about cherries over the past few years:
The German Cherry Stoner at work:
This is a good time to take a quick look over at the National Library of Medicine and see if there is anything new in Cherry-Research-Land.
The most recent is the report from Lynn et al that was published last month that looked at the effect cherry juice has on arterial stiffness and inflammation. This was a randomised controlled trial in which 47 healthy adults drank a glass of diluted cherry juice concentrate called Cherry Active once a day for 6 weeks or a similar looking placebo. This intervention didn’t do anything that the researchers had hoped; no change in arterial stiffness, c-reactive protein, blood pressure or cholesterol levels. [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24570273]
As tart cherries are a particularly rich source of anthocyanins, one would have thought drinking the juice might have helped. Drinking the juice caused a minor increase in blood antioxidant capacity. Not a big deal.
The product Cherry Actives is rather interesting; it is from a British company that sells a variety of juices for the athletic minded individual, including beet and blueberry juices. I’m not going to rush to order this product from the UK. Particularly since cherry and blueberry juices are US products.
A paper by Bell et al from last February looked at the effect of cherry juice on bicycle racers and had nice things to report. A group of 16 trained bicycle racers consumed 30 milliliters, (that’s about 2 TB) of a cherry juice concentrate twice a day for a week. They completed intense simulated road races on days 5, 6, and 7. These intense bouts of exercise had less of a negative effect on c-reactive protein or blood fat oxidation in the juice drinkers than it did on those who only drank placebo juice. [thtat was one convolluted sentence: c-reactive protein went up less in those that drank the cerry juice than those who drank placebo] [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24566440]
This second study also used the Cherry Active juice concentrates. So I suppose it works some of the time.
A year ago and a bit, August 2013, Schumacher et al found that cherry juice was useful in treating pain and other complaint sin knee osteoarthritis. In this randomized cross over study, 58 patients began treatment with either cherry juice or placebo, drinking two 8 oz bottles of juicedaily for 6 weeks and then switched treatments. [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23727631]
Scores on an assessment test decreased significantly after drinking the cherry juice but not after the placebo section of the test. C-reactive proteins decreased and this decline was associated with symptom improvement.
Bell et al, the same gang that published the paper on bicycle racers had an interesting discussion published in June that addresses a lingering question about this entire topic of trying to reduce inflammation associated with exercise. There’s a lot of sound scientific arguments in support of the old ‘no pain, no gain’ concepts in exercise training. Becoming more fit is the body’s adaptive response to periods of intense exercise that raise levels of oxidative damage and inflammation. If these painful effects of exercise are neutralized via the antioxidant or anti inflammatory effect of supplements or drugs, does the exercise still make us stronger? [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23710994]
Perhaps the way cherry juice works is a good thing as it may allow the 'pain to provide gain' but then neutralizes the unwanted after effects of the muscle injury? Suffice to say real life biology is more complicated than the laboratory models often used to investigate it with.
We must not forget a paper by JJ Matchynski et al published in April 2013 that demonstrated that a combination of cherry extract and essential fatty acids reduces the cognitive impairment caused by Alzheimer’s disease. Except that they tested this on mice and not people, the results are really exciting. [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23566055]
In this study they used a product that combined cherry juice extract, fish oil and also emu oil together. This product is registered, trademarked etc and is called Cerise(®) Total-Body-Rhythm™. The critters who were force fed this stuff for just two weeks did rather well. Let’s hope we see a study in the near future using this product on humans and hope it works as well for them.
That’s enough trying to be smart for tonight. I’ve got a fresh pie, just out of the oven calling me and suggesting that there isn’t anything else important in the way of cherry research that can’t wait for another day.
Plant Lynn A, Mathew S, Moore CT, Russell J, Robinson E, Soumpasi V, Barker ME. Effect of a tart cherry juice supplement on arterial stiffness and inflammation in healthy adults: a randomised controlled trial. Foods Hum Nutr. 2014 Jun;69(2):122-7. doi: 10.1007/s11130-014-0409-x.
Bell PG1, Walshe IH2, Davison GW3, Stevenson E4, Howatson G5. Montmorency cherries reduce the oxidative stress and inflammatory responses to repeated days high-intensity stochastic cycling. Nutrients. 2014 Feb 21;6(2):829-43. doi: 10.3390/nu6020829.
Schumacher HR, Pullman-Mooar S, Gupta SR, Dinnella JE, Kim R, McHugh MP.
Randomized double-blind crossover study of the efficacy of a tart cherry juice blend in treatment of osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee. Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2013 Aug;21(8):1035-41. doi: 10.1016/j.joca.2013.05.009. Epub 2013 May 31.
Bell PG, McHugh MP, Stevenson E, Howatson G. The role of cherries in exercise and health. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2014 Jun;24(3):477-90. doi: 10.1111/sms.12085. Epub 2013 May 27.
Matchynski JJ, Lowrance SA, Pappas C, Rossignol J, Puckett N, Sandstrom M, Dunbar GL. Combinatorial treatment of tart cherry extract and essential fatty acids reduces cognitive impairments and inflammation in the mu-p75 saporin-induced mouse model of Alzheimer's disease. J Med Food. 2013 Apr;16(4):288-95. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2012.0131.