Q. I was diagnosed with plantar fasciitis by one of the best foot doctors in my city. I was given pain medicines, many anti-inflammatory drugs and foot splints, with no success. As a last resort, he recommended steroid injections for the intense pain. A friend suggested I try cherry juice. In two days, I was nearly pain-free. It was almost a religious experience.
A number of studies in rats treated to develop arthritis have shown that cherry extract can reduce paw swelling and pain behaviors. The red compounds, anthocyanins, appear to have anti-inflammatory effects. We don't know why cherry juice would have worked when anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin did not, but we're glad to hear of it.
Quinine in tonic water
Q. My niece told me that drinking tonic water helped her restless legs syndrome. I tried sipping some before I went to bed, and it helps. After I read in your column that the Food and Drug Administration bars doctors from prescribing quinine, I looked on the label. Quinine is listed as one of the ingredients. Is quinine harmful?
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Some people are susceptible to quinine and develop irregular heartbeats or a life-threatening blood disorder when they consume it. It can also cause birth defects. The FDA banned it for treating leg cramps to prevent the serious side effects it can cause. Doctors are still permitted to prescribe it for malaria.
The dose of quinine found in tonic water is low, but we heard from one reader who suffered a severe reaction from drinking it.