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Tart Cherries for Restless Legs

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Q. I want to let you know about something that stunned me. I have suffered from restless leg syndrome (RLS) for nearly 35 years. A friend casually mentioned that pie cherries had helped her leg pain and thought maybe they would help my RLS.

I was skeptical since I have tried many treatments including medications. I had been on Mirapex for years and recently had to increase the dose. Nevertheless, RLS was troubling me day and night.

I started eating pie cherries (about two dozen with their juice) each day. I have not had RLS for two weeks since I began.

A. Thanks for sharing your story. People also tell us that pie cherries may sometimes ease gout pain.

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What exactly are pie cherries?? Thanks, Pat

Yes... what difference is there between cherries and pie cherries? Fresh or canned?

I think the "Pie Cherry" is one of the tart varieties. This often includes the "Montmorency" cherry, recently being noticed for having other medical benefits. Having lived in northern Illinois and enjoyed the beautiful peninsula of Door County, Wisconsin for many years, we all know about good pie cherries! This area is famous for producing the most coveted "pie" cherries in the US. It is a huge supplier, and this is the variety most wanted. You can probably find more information about this cherry by doing an internet search.

I think are the cherries you use to make pies came in a can; but 100%cherry juice will do the same (organic)

You can buy them in the canned fruit section and they are usually used for pies and tarts.

If you live near a Trader Joe's, you may want to purchase their jars of cherries. They are called "Dark Morello Cherries", in light syrup (18 g of sugar, 10mg of sodium, less than $3/jar for 24.7 oz) Be careful, they are addictive. Taste just like the sour cherries my mother use to can. I think they work!

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Tart pie cherries in the can also cured my husband's gout many times. As soon as the next day he received relief.

We told his Cardiologist and he was going to tell one of his patients as the patient could not tolerate the drug used to cure gout.

Same question as Pat - exactly what ARE pie cherries?

yes, what are pie cherries?

Are there some other widely available choices for ingesting the parts of tart cherries that are helpful? Are there liquid concentrates or capsules, or bottled juices for instance? And are there other names for the tart cherries than pie cherries that might be on the labels?

Pie cherries are cherries in a can or frozen.

Pie cherries are tart cherries. There are several kinds, including the Montmorency variety mentioned above. When taken for gout, they may be fresh, frozen, canned or dried. There are also cherry concentrate capsules and cherry juice that is reported to be helpful for gout symptoms. We would expect all these to help in the case of RLS as well, if any do, but we have not had enough reports from readers on their experience to be able to judge.

The People's Pharmacy

Instead of buying canned cherries, try tart cherry extract in capsule form. My husband suffered for years with lower leg pain due to his Parkinson's disease. One capsule once or, at most, twice a day was enough to relieve his pain. Two years ago, when he was put on Coumadin, he had to stop taking the capsules due to the interaction. He was back to suffering pain on a daily basis and could only take acetaminophen, which didn't help very much. He was recently taken off Coumadin and resumed taking the tart cherry extract. Although he is not entirely pain-free, he suffers far less than before. I purchase these capsules online since I can't find them locally.

But NOT sweet cherries!

The fact that you find pie cherries in a can is not WHY they are pie cherries. When I was a kid we had a "pie cherry" tree... and believe me, we did NOT eat them directly from the tree. They are smallish, a bright red and sour, sour, sour! BUT when you take the pits out and add sugar and oh, I don't know, tapioca or cornstarch and put them in a pie....well then you KNOW why they are called "pie cherries". No other cherry works for Cherry Pie BUT pie cherries.

Here is a link to the definitive dope on "pie cherries."

Enjoy!!! Oh, and yes, Cherry Pie is my FAVORITE pie! Homemade, of course. Yum!!

All canned or frozen cherries are not tart. Tart cherries are also called sour cherries. They are not sweet nor are they dark. Having grown up on a farm in lower Michigan in what is called the fruit belt, I picked them. They are like the tart or sour cherries grown in Door County. When looking for pie cherries make sure they say tart or sour. There is a juice. I don't know if it will work the same. I drink it just because. It is said the juice will help arthritis. It is not sweet. I don't sweeten it, but I guess you can and try it to see if it will help the RLS. Good Luck.

This is not as simple as it sounds. I have been trying to buy "tart" or "sour" cherries for years, for both the health benefits, and because they taste great! It's easy to find "pie filling" which is loaded with sugar, etc. Sometimes I can find "sweet" cherries. but it is rare to find the sour, tart, pie variety in either frozen or canned.

I have had RLS for 30 plus years. Have been on various meds the latest being mirapex which is starting to lose effectiveness. After reading the piece about pie cherries my first trial worked.

Question: did the person who wrote you about pie cherries continue taking her meds?


A friend who knows how bad I suffer from RLS called me to relate the pie cherry remedy for RLS. I participated in a study for Requip and had numerous sleep studies done prior to taking Requip and after starting the Rx. The clinic confirmed just how bad I suffered from RLS. Skeptical, I stopped on my way home and found tart red cherries in water at the local Walmart. It's been 2 weeks, and I still can't believe how this works. Haven't taken any medicine in 2 weeks!!! I don't know how long it will continue to relieve the symptoms, but for now I am sleeping without taking any Rx.

My RLS is a mild case (worse in the past) and whenever I need relief,
especially getting to sleep, I take a single, generic antacid tablet. Works like a charm, every time.

Trader Joe's also carried dried cherries (like raisins) and unsweetened cherry juice. I would imagine they would carry the same benefit without adding the sugar of processed canned cherries.

I'm experimenting with the pie cherries for RLS. So far the results are encouraging, but too early to say it works for sure.

I have suffered from RLS for years. Every year or so the dosage (REQUIP) has to be increased. RSL starts @ 4:30 & I am finding I am taking the medication earlier & earlier.

My sister, an RN, phoned me from NC last night and told me this article was in their local paper. Here in PA we call these sour cherries. Around July 4th they are ripe and I make @ 30 pints of jam & I freeze @ 15 quarts for pies, cobbler, etc. I wanted to check the internet to get more info before taking, but am thawing a quart right now!

Does anyone know, do you take at night, or what? Also I have GERD & am taking an RX. Am wondering if all the acid from the cherries will cause additional problems. Anyone know? At this point, I am willing to try anything natural from the RLS since I am almost at the max dosage allowed for the RX. Only problem, sour cherry pie is my husband's & granddaughter's favorite pie!

My husband used some dried bing cherries we had. So that was not a sour cherry, but they seemed to work, possibly because they were so concentrated. He also used cherry capsules. Thanks for opening my eyes to the difference between sour and sweet cherries!

I think the best is Tart Cherry Concentrated Juice. Can be bought online. 1 qt about $26, but that is for 1 month. 2 TBS into 8 oz glass water. Drink one glass per day. Works wonders.

My RLS has not improved on the "12 tart cherries a day" formula. I've just finished the 3rd can.

I'm on Coumadin and would like to take Tart Cherry Juice. Why would Coumadin INR number change from this fruit? What is the connection, does anyone know? Thank you for your help.

Thanks for the initial post (I think). I have RLS and also am taking mirapex. I dislike the side effects of mirapex and could not find another medication that worked. Now... I have another hope. I have bought one can of Pie cherries and one can of tart cherries. I've eaten 20 tart cherries and 10 pie cherries so far. My goal is to get to 20/20! You could say I'm overdosing on cherries with my fingers crossed for luck. I'll let you know how I'm doing in a few days.

Those of you that this worked for are fortunate. I ate 25 the first evening starting before dinner. Legs didn't get restless til @ 9:30, then I couldn't get them under control. Next day I started eating them in early afternoon. Same thing. Then I was pacing the floor til 2:00 a.m. trying to to get the twitching under control and again ended up taking the Requip. The third day I ate 30 some throughout the day but the last ten or so cherries I ate after dinner.

I was sure I had it licked but @ 10:00 the restlessness started and again I was taking the Requip. I wanted to experiment further, but three nights w/o a good nights sleep is just too taxing. Any suggestions? Oh, yea, I ended up making a sour cherry pie with the remainder of the cherries!

I saw the string about putting the bar of soap in bed for leg cramps and thought I would try for mild case of pregnancy related restless leg -- unbelievable how well it worked - weirdest thing ever! Amazing.

Partial success... I seem to be able to halve my mirapex (requip and others do not work with me) when I make a 40 tart-cherry shake (other fruits/yogurt mixed in too). I will keep you up to date as I experiment with other combinations!

Has anyone come across other than soap, cranberry, mirapex and requip a remedy on RLS? My mother has a great deal of attacks even in the day time. Greatly appreciate any comments or direction. Very hard on her, up in age.


Marcel, I've had severe RLS for over 15 years, and have been on several different combinations of Rx drugs. I'm 63. Most people have to experiment to find the right combination, and even then, after a time, some Rx drugs will stop helping and even start making the condition worse. At present I'm taking a combo of generic Klonopin, Tegretol and Requip Xl, which generally allows me to sleep. However, occasionally symptoms will begin in late afternoon. I used to take the Tegretol twice during the day, and then take a double dose of it and the Klonopin and Requip at bedtime.

Three thoughts for your mother: If she has not found a doctor who KNOWS about RLS, find one. I see a neurologist, who is a Godsend.

Some OTC medications will make the condition worse, notably antihistamines, unfortunately for me, because I have seasonal allergies, and acetaminophen, the primary ingredient in Tylenol and Tylenol-based medications. Please make sure she lets all of her health care providers aware of this. There is nothing worse than having some other medical issue come up, be given one of these, and then have to deal with RLS on top of it!

Last, I was told to take 3 oz. each of tonic water and pineapple juice at bedtime. After about 4 months of this, I've been able to stop the daytime dosages of Tegretol, and only need half the amount of Klonopin. Who knows, in another 4 months, maybe I'll be able to stop ALL the Rx meds, and just have my 'cocktail' at bedtime.
These are things that work for me, but everyone is different. She may have to experiment to find the correct treatment. Best of luck!

my 86 year old mother began to suffer the effects of restless leg syndrome in her 40s; the effects have increased in severity throughout the years. recently, she became aware that the symptoms had markedly decreased and tried to isolate what she'd been doing, eating, etc., to determine the source of her relief (she's athletic, always has been, and fit). She finally hit on crystallized ginger, which she began eating a lot of in recent months to minimize her chocolate intake. She has always been a good lay diagnostician and we know that there are health benefits of ginger for nausea and other problems. So, it can't hurt to give it a try. Thank you.

I am 52 and have been suffering the effects of RLS for about a year or so. I have always had some trouble sleeping and I would occasionally take small dose of Klonopin. About 8 months ago, it was recommended that I try Mirapex. It helped a little initially but my symptoms seem to go in waves of nights where I sleep ok and other nights where it the symptoms are much worse even on the same dose.

Has anyone ever kept a log of foods they eat to see if there is anything that causes their symptoms to be worse one day or another? I would also like to know the typical dose of Mirapex to start and where the dosage ends up over 1 to 2 years. Also, does anyone switch between Klonopin and Mirapex on alternating days? I read about the person who does smaller doses of both. I am going to try the cherry juice and extract pills to see if that helps. Thanks you.


I have suffered from RLS since early 40's. I have now started taking tart cherry juice (TCJ), because I heard from a friend who has sleep problems, that TCJ has melatonin and it is good to drink it at dinner time. I do drink it an bedtime (8 oz.) I also take a half dose of Mirapex; the full dose of Mirapex leaves me feeling groggy the next day. TCJ reduces the time it takes me to fall asleep, it used to take about 2.5 hours for my RLS to calm down. I did order an organic concentrate online and mix it with mineral water. TCJ also has other benefits such as, a fruit serving, and it is an antioxidant, and for me, there are many more benefits. Check out Melatonin on Wikipedia. Also, avoid alcohol, sugar, reduce chips, and don't drink coffee after 12? These foods create some kind of energy that goes directly to agitate my RLS. Some people say to give up coffee, it's hard, I'm in the process of reducing coffee. Yikes!

I've been on both plus gabapentin, and some nights nothing helped.
My friend, a nurse, told me about the soap dope remedy, and I laughed it off until, finally out of desperation, I tried it. Have slept like a baby ever since. Still can't believe it myself! Keep thinking it's just some fluke. But it keeps working. It even relieved my back spasms. Nobody is more shocked than I am that something so silly can possibly work.
Put a bar of soap under your bottom sheet in the feet area and forget about all the pills. Really. Try it.

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