Cherries for gout supported by science

Q. I have been battling gout for the past five weeks and was on indomethacin, ibuprofen and a low-purine diet. The attacks kept moving around from joint to joint, and the ordeal has been extremely painful.

I heard that tart cherries might help, so I bought tart cherry juice and a big bottle of tart cherry concentrate from the health-food store.

The pain is 80 percent gone in just 48 hours! I drank 24 to 32 ounces of the juice each day and supplemented it with 2 to 4 tablespoons of tart cherry concentrate mixed with water. This is amazing, especially since I have stopped taking the medication.

A. Readers have been telling us for years that tart cherries help ease their gout attacks. The first study on cherries for gout appeared in medical literature in 1950 (Texas Reports on Biology and Medicine).

Although many doctors have been skeptical about the benefits of cherries, a new yearlong study of 633 volunteers with gout shows that flare-ups are 35 percent less likely when a person eats cherries (Arthritis and Rheumatism online, Sept. 28, 2012). Cherries in combination with the uric-acid-lowering drug allopurinol reduced the likelihood of an attack by 75 percent.

For more information about the benefits of cherries for controlling inflammation in gout and arthritis, along with other foods that can ease joint pain, we offer our book “Quick and Handy Home Remedies” (online at

Q. I believe Archway Coconut Macaroons help my IBS [irritable bowel syndrome], but as a diabetic I don’t want the sugar. Do you know why they help? In other words, could I just eat unsweetened coconut? I called Archway Cookies, and they said they don’t know why their coconut macaroons work.

A. We think it’s the coconut. We encourage you to try unsweetened coconut flakes. Many readers report this works as well as coconut macaroon cookies to quell diarrhea. Here’s one testimonial: “Coconut controls my son’s ulcerative colitis. I sprinkle roughly 1 tablespoon of coconut flakes on his yogurt in the morning and give him an individual Mounds bar for dessert at lunch.”

Q. I’m wondering what information you have about SAMe as a treatment for depression. I’ve been taking it for six months, along with a daily B vitamin, and have gotten great results. I would like to know if it’s really safe.

A. An analysis of S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe) in combination with folate (B vitamin) shows that this regimen reduces symptoms of depression without unpleasant side effects (Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, July 2012). Exercise, sun exposure and counseling also are helpful. You can learn more about them in “The Depression Cure” by Stephen Ilardi, Ph.D.

Q. My sister is coming over in a week. I have dandruff on my face (eyebrows, nose, forehead and inside my ears). Can I cure it with Vicks or other remedies? Please tell me how.

A. Facial dandruff is called seborrheic dermatitis, and it is usually caused by overgrowth of yeast called Malassezia. Applying Vicks to the flaky areas morning and evening should help because of its antifungal ingredients.

Milk of magnesia (MoM) also might work. Apply a thin layer after you wash your face at bedtime, and leave it on overnight. Wash it off in the morning with your usual cleanser. This frequently helps, though it may take more than a week to clear the skin completely.

2012 King Features Syndicate Inc.

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