American College of Nutrition Certified Nutrition Specialist | Author | Professor of Nutrition

 

Tart Cherries – They Work!

I rolled my eyes when my husband got off the phone with a friend and told me about the tart cherry miracle cure that took his pain away. So I did some research, to see if it was worth a try (and maybe to prove him wrong).

It turns out I was wrong. Fresh cherries in a bowl

Tart cherries really do seem to reduce chronic joint pain and inflammation, improve sleep, and help prevent gout flare-ups. I was as surprised as anybody, but when I researched the tart cherries it started to make sense.

Tart cherries are especially good sources of anthocyanins, a potent anti-inflammatory compound also found in green tea. This, along with other nutrients in the cherries, seem to be effective at relieving the chronic achy pains that come with getting older, getting in shape, and working long hours at a computer or on our feet. Research showed gout flare-ups were reduced significantly with tart cherries.

Before I could recommend this to you, I had to try it myself. Surprisingly, both my husband and I have experienced fewer aches and pains and better sleep using tart cherry juice and capsules. A sore neck and shoulders from working over the computer used to keep me up at night, but not nearly as much now. My husband’s aches and pains from gardening are much better, and he doesn’t wake up with pain.

So I had to eat some humble pie.

A few research studies have been done on tart cherries, and it seems like the best results come from having some tart cherries, tart cherry juice or a capsule full of dried tart cherries two to three times a day. You can have them with meals, so its easy to remember.

To get the full benefit of the cherries, you’d have to eat more than three cups of cherries a day – that’s a lot. We have tried both the tart cherry juice concentrate mixed in a smoothie and the capsules, and have gotten good results without unpleasant side effects.

So far no negative effects have been reported with the tart cherry juice or the capsules, and they have been around for a while. I think its because they are a whole food, not just one component of the food in concentrated form. Our bodies almost always prefer whole foods to food components.

If you’d like to give them a try, here are the brands I use:

Tart Cherry Juice

Tart Cherry Capsules

For the juice, use 2 Tbs. mixed into sparkling water, another juice or a smoothie. I take one capsule at a time, usually with dinner and sometimes breakfast.

If you decide to try any tart cherry products, please let me know how it works for you. Someone over here would love to hear me say I was wrong again.

Note: I have Amazon links here because that’s where I buy these supplements. Amazon gives me a small “thank-you” commission (and I mean small) for each purchase through these links.

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One Response to Tart Cherries – They Work!

  1. Dorothy Goldsmith, BSN, RN September 10, 2016 at 1:45 PM #

    I have severe chronic pain from two failed back surgeries, a bad spinal fusion, and recurrent spinal cord cysts and am currently on a small dose of pain medication; but when I researched tart cherries in all forms and claims regarding inflammation reduction and pain reduction I decided to try them. I am a registered nurse with my baccalaureate in nursing and am very critical of claims regarding not only medications but also supplements, just to name a couple of areas, and after consuming fresh tart cherries and the juice as well for a few days I suddenly realized that the pain not only in my spine but that from the osteoporosis and osteoarthritis was not as severe. I had actually gotten so absorbed in other research that I forgot about my trial with tart cherries until the light came on and I realized the pains that never let me know they were there were not screaming for my attention. I decided to stop the tart cherries and noted that after almost a week the pain was screaming at me so I restarted the tart cherries. I am the type of person who is not swayed by claims from reports and if I don’t get a benefit from something I see no need to continue it. All I know is that when I take high doses of the supplement or consume 2 to 3 cups of fresh berries I have a lessened degree of residual pains that I normally experience with my medications and I also am able to sleep more soundly than I do with medications alone as I was never in a deep sleep due to the pain not relenting. I also have MS and experience severe fatigue secondary to it and with my pain never allowing me to find any position I did not have exacerbation of the pain and was always aware I was in pain but with tart cherries in my diet I found that muscles that were always in some degree of spasm, despite being maxed out on muscle relaxants, were more relaxed allowing me to position on my least affected side. From someone who is very difficult to convince all I can say is that with tart cherry added to my diet I am not in 100% state of muscle spasm and severe spinal pain. I am not pain free by any means but I am able to get enough relief so that I can at least lie down without my spine going into more spasm. But on a last note one should always consult with their physician before taking a supplement or even the fresh berries especially if they are on any medications, especially blood thinners or heart medications.

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