Gout is a form of arthritis caused by the buildup of uric acid crystals in the joints. This buildup leads to painful inflammation. Uric acid is produced when the digestive process breaks down purine, an organic compound found in high concentrations in red meats--particularly organ meats like kidney, liver and brain. Purines are also concentrated in oily fish like herring and mackerel. Regular consumption of these purine-rich foods is associated with higher rates of gout. Moderate levels of purine found in white meats and vegetables are not associated with increased risk of gout.
A 1950 paper by Dr. Ludwig Blau of Texas is the first known report in western medicine of cherries' positive impact on gout and other forms of arthritis. A 2006 study by researchers at the University of California Davis determined that consuming sweet bing cherries for 28 days significantly lowered the blood concentrations of several inflammation markers associated with forms of arthritis, including gout. The rate at which uric acid was removed from the blood of the study's subjects also increased after consuming each day's allotment of cherries.
Consuming cherries--fresh, dried or juiced--lowers the blood concentration of uric acid. Cherries contain numerous components which are beneficial to health, but it is their high content of anthocyanins--plant pigments that give cherries as well as blueberries, cranberries and raspberries their distinct color and tart flavor--which makes cherries so valuable in gout treatment. Anthocyanins help increase the excretion of uric acid and reduce inflammation, bringing relief to gout sufferers.