Headaches or muscle pain? Tart cherry juice may provide sweet relief

The People’s Pharmacy answers reader questions about the powers of cherry juice, vegan medications and thyroid hormone treatment.

Q: I have had recurring headaches with some regularity over many years. My solution was to rely on extra-strength Excedrin, which would eliminate the pain within a half-hour. My doctor was concerned about me taking so much Excedrin, and suggested I alternate taking indomethacin for these frequent headaches.

Instead, I decided to try taking cherry juice five months ago. I drink a 6-ounce glass of it at bedtime.

Miraculously, I have been headache-free since I started! This has changed my life substantially for the better. Perhaps it also will help others with headaches for which there is no apparent medical reason.

A: Athletes have been using tart cherry juice for post-exercise muscle pain, to reduce inflammation and to promote endurance (Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, June 2014). Scientists believe that cherries have anti-inflammatory activity similar to that of over-the-counter pain medications like ibuprofen (Medicine and Sport Science, online, Oct. 15, 2012). We hope your tactic will help others with recurrent headaches.

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Q: I’ve been a vegan for many years. Recently I realized the medication I take is not vegan.

I’m looking for a vegan clozapine and Depakote. Do you have any idea where I can find them?

A: Because vegans avoid all products derived from animals, they may have a hard time with many medications. Capsules frequently are made of gelatin, a product of cattle and pigs. Occasionally a drug is an animal product itself, such as the anti-clotting injection heparin or the female hormone product Premarin.

It is not clear that your epilepsy medicine divalproex sodium (Depakote) contains any animal-derived ingredients. Clozapine, on the other hand, contains milk sugar (lactose) and magnesium stearate,…

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