cherries, tart cherry juice

Summer is cherry season. For several weeks you can get fresh cherries at your local market. The rest of the year cherry lovers rely on frozen, canned or dried cherries to satisfy their cravings.

Most people do not think of cherries as strong medicine. Nevertheless, the research continues to build that ingredients in both tart (sour) cherries and sweet cherries can have powerful biological effects.

Montmorency Cherries as Medicine:

The most recent studies demonstrate that Montmorency cherry concentrate can have an impact on athletic performance and recovery. In one trial, 16 competitive cyclists were randomly assigned to get two tablespoons of concentrate or placebo twice a day for eight days. On the fifth day they cycled hard for 109 minutes to mimic a road race.

The scientists measured cycling efficiency, cycling power, muscle soreness and inflammatory markers. They concluded: “The results of the study suggest that Montmorency cherry concentrate can be an efficacious functional food for accelerating recovery and reducing exercise-induced inflammation following strenuous cycling exercise” (Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism, Apr., 2015).

The other trial included 20 marathon runners competing in the 2008 London Marathon. They were randomly assigned to get a cherry juice blend or a placebo juice for eight days. The race was on the sixth day.

These researchers collected information on upper respiratory tract symptoms such as sniffles and sore throat, which are common following a marathon race. In addition, they analyzed the runners’ blood and saliva for inflammatory compounds.

The investigators concluded, “The results of this pilot study showed that a Montmorency cherry juice blend appears to protect the URT [upper respiratory tract] from inflammatory symptoms caused by infectious and non-infectious agents, by possibly reducing the exercise-induced pulmonary inflammation” (Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, May 11, 2015).

Fighting Inflammation:

Tart cherries are not just for elite athletes. Many people find that cherry juice has anti-inflammatory activity that can be helpful for easing arthritic joints.

One reader reports:

“I have debilitating arthritis in my knees. Due to a kidney disease, I can’t take any of the prescription arthritis drugs or even NSAIDs like ibuprofen or naproxen for the pain.

“I started drinking tart cherry juice and it has definitely cut my pain in half. I’ve also started physical therapy and that is helping, too.”

Many others have also found that tart cherries or cherry juice can help ease joint pain. Scientists have an explanation. Compounds in this fruit can inhibit the enzyme cyclooxygenase just as prescription drugs like celecoxib (Celebrex) do (Journal of Food Science, May, 2012).

Do Not Overdose If You Have Kidney Trouble:

People with chronic kidney disease need to be careful, though. Overdosing on cherry concentrate could further damage the kidneys (American Journal of Kidney Diseases, March, 2014).

Cherries Against Gout:

Other readers have written about the benefits they have experienced eating cherries or drinking cherry juice to ease the excruciating pain of gout. Science supports their experience.

Researchers recruited gout patients online for a year-long observational study. When people consumed cherry products, they had a 35 percent lower risk of a gout flare-up (Arthritis and Rheumatism, Dec., 2012).

People have been enjoying cherries for thousands of years. Now we know that they offer health benefits in addition to delicious flavor. If you would like to know more about some of our favorite healing foods, you may be interested in our book, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies.

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  1. JAS

    Did the adverse affect on kidneys also happen with frozen or fresh cherries? Can you cause toxicity to your kidneys if you already have kidney issues? And if so, which kidney issues would be effected by having too many cherries?

  2. Beth
    Houston, Tx

    I have painful arthritis in my fingers and would like to try concentrated cherry juice, but still (unless I overlooked it) don’t see a recommendation for how much to take daily. I don’t want to overdo it and just cause another problem such as kidney disease!

  3. Connie
    Fort Mill, SC

    I would like to know how much juice per day people are taking to help with osteoarthritis.

  4. Heather

    I have rheumatoid arthritis and cherries do help a little. I sure like eating. We get cherries from USA & Canada in our Winter. Don’t know if we export them to overseas for your winter. Probably so popular all grown are eaten here.

  5. Robert

    Would cherry juice help with arthritis in the hip joints if so how much should I take per day .

  6. Tracy

    I have had a few episodes with Gout. Cherries work. The first time I had a flare up, I did not know what it was. My big toe hurt so badly that the touch of a sheet was painful. I had to hop on one foot, as I could not put my toe on the ground. My doctor diagnosed Gout. Not wanting to take medication, I checked out what else I could use. Cherries were recommended. I bought dried cherries, cherry juice, and fresh,. They work. Now if I have a flare up, only twice in 10 years, I have cherries immediately. The pain is gone in less than an hour. My doctor says my gout is due to dehydration, as Idon’t eat the foods that trigger it. My Dad had gout, so it is hereditary, I believe.
    I eat cherries at least 5 days a week. This time of year is the best. They are fresh and delicious.

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