Food as medicine - cherries

From the time of the ancient Romans and down through the mists of time healers and physicians have instinctively known that certain foods possess medicinal qualities. This knowledge  has largely been anecdotal and passed down through the ages in folklore. More recently  scientists have started to appreciate these medicinal  powers and research has followed. In the late 20th century a revolutionary approach to health and food occurred after research institutions like John Hopkins and Harvard started to champion the efficacy of certain foods in disease and ill health prevention. Since then our understanding of the concept of food as medicine has been elevated from folklore into a more mainstream arena and we've never looked.

As a health care professional I first became aware of the issue of food as medicine back in the early 1990s, when I discovered the works of Jean Carper -  best selling author of The Food Pharmacy and Food your Miracle Medicine. More recently other writers such as Leslie Kenton and the UK nutritionist Christine Bailey have written extensively about the essential interplay of food and health; all of which is like music to my ears. Every woman who cares about her health and that of her family would find that having their own basic "food pharmacy guide" both inspirational and empowering. Once you understand the basic science you'll never look back and your life will be transformed.

I have just returned from a holiday in Scotland, where I read an article about the health benefits of cherries. Then, curiously enough, on returning home a paper from Arthritis UK was in my post which also ran an article about the same subject. The anti-inflammatory effects of cherries, or cherry extract, has been known for some time. (This is due to the anti-inflammatory properties of anthocyanins.) However, a recent paper from Boston now supports that cherry consumption reduces the episodes of flare-ups in Gout - a painful inflammatory condition affecting the joints. This effect is even more significant when combined with taking the prescription drug Allupurinol. (A drug of choice for Gout.) It's also interesting to note that cherries contain high amounts of Salicylates - a naturally occurring Aspirin. So, potentially great news for people with gout and other joint pain issues. A word about cherry extract. If you are thinking of using it be careful as it is very potent. From what I've read it might be safer to use the extract topically in a cream or a gel, which can then be applied externally to an affected joint. In addition due to certain substances found in cherries, if consumed at night, cherries can also aid a restful sleep. Bliss!

In a recent blog I finished by saying that life could so easily be 

So, lets make it happen. In the UK the cherry season is in July and August. The challenge, now that they're not in season, is to find ways of including them in your diet. I'm aware that canning and heating does not destroy their nutritional content. However, I'm not sure about freezing. Does anyone out there know? Let me know if you do. Look forward to hearing from you.

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