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It’s been eight years since John Carey’s painful episodes of gout led him to dump a successful career as a financing manager and start to build a successful cherry juice business that now uses 400 million cherries per annum and boasts professional football teams and Olympic squads amongst his customers! Who’s the CherryMan?
In his early thirties, John, with a background in Accounting and Financial Management, was forging a successful career as a Leasing and Finance specialist, having working for a number of bluechip finance companies in the City. He was also a keen sportsman - a black belt at judo, marathon runner and mountain biker. One morning, he woke up with excruciating pain in his toe and his life changed. His toe was so painful that he couldn’t even stand the weight of a bedsheet on his foot. A hobble to the doctors, gave the news that he had gout!
Gout is caused by a build up of uric acid in the bloodstream, which can precipitate into needle-like crystals, causing inflammation and intense pain. Uric acid is a normal by-product of the metabolism of a type of protein called purine, which is found in meat and legumes and especially high in seafood, offal and beer. Sufferers are mostly men and predominantly those with a purine-rich diet. Obesity, excessive alcohol consumption and dehydration can also increase the risk of the disease. John was neither overweight nor had a rich diet, but damaged kidneys, due to being a premature baby, meant that uric acid built up and caused gout flare ups.
John’s first gout attack lasted over ten days and was exceedingly painful. With rest, ice and painkillers, the inflammation slowly subsided. However, the gout came back a couple of months later and that set a painful trend of regular attacks every few months. Restricting his diet to low-purine foods didn’t seem to help (and was not a lot of fun).
His doctor prescribed life-long medication, which helped to lower blood uric acid levels, but John suffered dizzy side effects and was not keen to take drugs for the rest of his days. A few years after his first attack, John was on a business trip to the US. He suffered another attack and one of his American colleagues told him of a friend in Michigan who swore by the cherries from a local orchard that helped him get rid of his gout problems.
John took a trip to the orchards and starting taking the juice from recently pressed cherries. The next day his gout pain had totally subsided. Back in the UK, he tried to buy cherry juice, but was disappointed that there were no stockists. He called up the farm he had visited and arranged to import some of the juice as a thick concentrate. A few friends tried the juice too and he soon had a growing band of fans, keen to put in a regular order.
After a few months, John decided to quit his job and give his cherry business a go full time. His company started trading on January 1st 2006 – CherryActive was born! The next few years saw sales rise quickly on his website and through the health stores he had approached. He also developed a freeze-dried cherry powder with practically zero calories for customers who wanted the benefit of his cherries without the fruit sugar. In 2008, he approached London Irish Rugby team, who trained nearby. John had noticed that as well as reduce the incidence and severity of his gout attacks, his cherry juice helped him recover after long runs and judo training. The rugby players found similar benefits, which enabled them to get more out of their training week. As the performance benefits went round the rugby circles, more teams wanted CherryActive to include in their players’ diets.
In 2009, London South Bank University performed a double-blind, placebo-controlled study, with well-trained athletes consuming CherryActive, to investigate whether there was any evidence to back up the rugby players’ claim that the juice was behind a boost in recovery rates. The results were very impressive and word spread fast around the professional sport community.
Today, all the four Home Nation rugby squads take CherryActive products, together with the majority of Premiership Rugby and Football teams. In London 2012, twelve Olympic teams included CherryActive in their nutritional plans, including British Cycling, GB Boxing and GB Tennis.
Further research, from some of the country’s leading academic institutions, performed further studies on CherryActive – demonstrating that it could help improve sleep patterns, reduce uric acid levels and reduce inflammation. Another test showed that a single glass of diluted juice contained more antioxidants that 23 portions of fruit and vegetable.
CherryActive has now blossomed (sorry, cherry pun) and is ready for another growth spurt. The staff count is still only numbers six, but this is set to increase as distributors abroad are set up and new product lines are developed.
Last year, the CherryActive range was increased to include two new super-juices – BeetActive (100% concentrated beetroot juice) and BlueberryActive (100% concentrated blueberry juice). Research has shown that the benefits of consuming beetroot include maintaining a healthy blood pressure and blueberries help to improve memory and cognition.
CherryActive has recently opened distributors in countries round the world, including Ireland, South Africa, China and Australia.