This study was undertaken to assess the effectiveness of tart cherry juice in recovery from and prevention of muscle injury, inflammation and chemical or oxidative damage. Participants in the study volunteered to run a marathon, and some biomarkers like enzymes and other parameters were measured with or without intake of the juice to assess muscle damage. The results showed that those who consumed cherry juice recovered their muscle strength faster. Cherry juice also reduced muscle inflammation and other damage. “The cherry juice appears to provide a viable means to aid recovery following strenuous exercise by increasing total antioxidative capacity, reducing inflammation,” according to the authors.
“Muscle damage and inflammation typically occur in response to long-distance running such as marathons. Research has found that these endurance exercises result in considerable damage to muscles, mainly as oxidative injury and inflammatory issues. There have been clinical studies that attempted to use antioxidants in reversing these injuries and aid recovery of the muscle strength. However, the results from these studies have been contradictory, with some showing benefits and some showing no effect. Cherries are said to possess anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. There have been few studies that assessed the muscle protective properties of cherries in strenuous exercise. This study was conducted to see if intake of a tart cherry juice blend before a marathon helps protect the muscles from inflammatory and oxidative damage and also helps the muscles regain their strength.
* The study involved 20 healthy men and women who volunteered for the study. They were divided into two study groups. One group took a placebo drink and another took the cherry drink.
* Oxidative stress, antioxidative status and inflammation were measured for each subject. The samples were taken six days prior to a marathon, the day preceding the marathon, directly after the event, and at 24 hours and 48 hours subsequent to the it.
* Blood tests were conducted to test for the various markers of muscle damage.
* Muscle strength recovered faster in the cherry juice group, as compared to the placebo group.
* Markers of muscle inflammation were significantly less in the cherry juice group. This was reflected in parameters like Interleukin-6 (an inflammation marker), C-reactive protein and uric acid in blood.
* The total antioxidant status was significantly higher by nearly 10 percent in the cherry juice group, as compared to the dummy group.
* TBARS (thiobarbituric acid reactive species), a marker of oxidative stress, was lower in the cherry juice group than in the dummy group, 48 hours after the marathon.
The authors agree that the eight-day study was shorter than most previous studies and also that the exact dose of cherry juice that can confer the said benefits are unknown. Further studies may determine the optimal amount of juice to be consumed before strenuous exercise, and the best period of supplementation to achieve significant benefits.
This study shows that in comparison to a placebo, taking cherry juice for five days before, the actual day of a marathon, and for two days after running a marathon, facilitates quicker revival of strength and enhances total antioxidant capacity. The authors speculate that tart cherry juice may be a “feasible alternative to pharmaceutical and therapeutic interventions in aiding recovery following such exercise; in addition, it may also prove useful where a number of strenuous exercise bouts are required within a relatively short period of time.” They also believe that the beneficial effects of this juice as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant agent may also be translated to its clinical usefulness in some pathological disorders where there are raised levels of oxidative stress and inflammation. These benefits need to be explored in further studies.
For More Information:
Influence of Tart Cherry Juice on Indices of Recovery Following Marathon Running
Publication Journal: Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, 2010
By G Howatson; M P McHugh; Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, Kingston University, Kingston-upon-Thames, UK, and Lenox Hill Hospital, New York
*FYI Living Lab Reports Are Summaries of the Original Research.