Tart cherry and ginger help reduce pain; folic acid normalizes body function

Tart cherry juice reduced runners’ muscle pain, ginger cut pain after exercise, and folic acid normalized blood vessel function in non-menstruating young women runners, several new studies reveal.

Doctors in a running study said endurance athletes often treat pain with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, which can have serious side effects. Researchers gave 54 healthy runners, 36 men and 18 women, average age 36, 11 ounces of antioxidant-rich anti-inflammatory tart cherry juice twice per day or a placebo for seven days prior to and on the day of a 16-mile race. After the race, the tart cherry group reported one-third the pain scores of the placebo group.

Researchers in a muscle pain study wanted to test the anti-inflammatory effects of ginger. Seventy-four people took 2g of raw or heated ginger per day or a placebo for 11 days. Participants then performed 18 elbow muscle-lengthening resistance exercises to induce pain and inflammation. Both ginger groups reported about 25 percent less pain than placebo 24 hours after exercise.

In a folic acid study, researchers said that young female athletes who do not eat enough to replace the energy they use during exercise can stop menstruating (amenorrhea), causing postmenopausal-like estrogen changes that raise chances for heart problems. Reduced blood vessel dilation and elasticity are early signs of these changes.

Ten women with amenorrhea and reduced blood vessel function, and 10 without, who were college or recreational runners, aged 18 to 35, not on birth control pills, who ran at least 20 miles per week for the past year, took 10 mg of folic acid per day or a placebo. After four weeks, in the amenorrheic women who had taken folic acid, blood vessel function returned to normal.

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