Arthritis & Rheumatism, Volume 63,
November 2011 Abstract Supplement

Abstracts of the American College of
Rheumatology/Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals
Annual Scientific Meeting
Chicago, Illinois November 4-9, 2011.

Double Blind Cross-Over Study of the Efficacy of a Tart Cherry Juice Blend In Treatment of Osteoarthritis (OA) of the Knee.

Schumacher1,  H. Ralph, Pullman-Mooar2,  Sally W., Gupta3,  Smita R., Dinnella4,  Janet E., Kim5,  Rosa, McHugh6,  Malachy

VA Medical Center and University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
Philadelphia Veterans Hospital, Philadelphia, PA
University of Pennsylvania, Santa Monica, CA
University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA
Nicholas Institute of Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma, New York, NY


Consumption of cherries or cherry juice has been claimed to alleviate pain in arthritis, have anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant effects, alleviate muscle pain after exertion, and decrease pain (and uric acid levels) in gout. We tested effects of cherry juice (CJ) in patients with OA.


This double-blind cross-over study tested 6 weeks use of a tart cherry juice preparation (blended with apple juice to decrease tartness) given daily as 2 8-ounce bottles each containing the equivalent of 45 tart cherries. The comparator was Kool-aid (Kraft, Ryebrook, NY) with an added clouding agent to produce similar appearances. Both CJ and control servings contained 31 grams of sugar. Non-diabetic patients with Kellgren grade 2–3 OA and VAS pain of 4–9 were withdrawn from NSAIDS for at least 1 week. After 1 week washout treatments were crossed over for an additional 6 weeks. The primary outcome measures were WOMAC scores at 6 weeks; walking times, hsCRP levels, any acetaminophen use, and serum urate (because of past reports in gout) were also recorded.


59 patients were enrolled with 27 randomized to begin with CJ and 32 with the control. There were 53 completers for each group. WOMAC and pain scores decreased significantly after CJ but not after the control (Table 1), but differences between the treatments were not significant. Acetaminophen use and walking times did not change. hsCRP levels declined on CJ and rose on the control possibly related to initial withdrawal from NSAIDs and later withdrawal from CJ (Fig. 1) (p<0.01). WOMAC improvement correlated with hsCRP falls (p<0.01). Serum urate levels were mostly normal and did not change. 7 AEs lead to early discontinuations (4 with CJ and 3 control). AEs possibly related to CJ included one rash, and one "GI symptoms". 1 subject during the control treatment and 1 after the CJ had elevated blood sugar. Blinding was considered adequate. At the end of the CJ arm only 57% of subjects believed they were on CJ.

Figure 1. hsCRP values for cherry juice and placebo treatments displayed according to treatment order. Time by treatment order P<0.01. Mean±SE displayed.

Table 1. WOMAC Results

  Cherry Juice n=53Placebo n=53Difference n=49P Value
WOMAC ScorePre Treatment46.1 ± 23.245.8 ± 23.51.7 ± 17.1P=0.98
 Post Treatment39.2 ± 25.143.0 ± 27.0-2.7 ± 17.6P=0.58
 Difference6.9 ± 13.72.8 ± 16.94.4 ± 23.6P=0.2*
 P ValueP=0.002P=0.23P=0.2* 
Pain ScorePre Treatment42.1 ± 22.941.5 ± 24.40.9 ± 18.0P=0.99
 Post Treatment36.3 ± 2740.0 ± 26.6-3.6 ± 20.5P=0.46
 Difference5.8 ± 17.71.5 ± 17.44.5 ± 27.3P=0.20*
 P ValueP<0.05P=0.99P=0.20* 
mean±SD;*Significance of time by treatment interaction; other P values adjusted for planned pairwise comparisons (P values times 2).


Patients taking cherry juice had improved WOMAC scores and had significantly decreased hsCRP levels compared to controls. Both CJ and control were generally well tolerated.

To cite this abstract, please use the following information:
Schumacher, H. Ralph, Pullman-Mooar, Sally W., Gupta, Smita R., Dinnella, Janet E., Kim, Rosa, McHugh, Malachy; Double Blind Cross-Over Study of the Efficacy of a Tart Cherry Juice Blend In Treatment of Osteoarthritis (OA) of the Knee. [abstract]. Arthritis Rheum 2011;63 Suppl 10 :1092

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