Would you like to use less ibuprofen for aches and pains?
Do you want to sleep better without taking melatonin or other sleep aids? Did you know that tart cherry juice can improve sleep, reduce pain, and has many other surprising health benefits?
After seeing the sleep benefits of tart cherry juice firsthand, I was amazed at the studies suggesting other benefits such as pain reduction, faster exercise recovery, lower blood pressure, and reduced inflammation.
Tart cherries have a special place in my heart.
My grandparents had cherry trees in their backyard, and I have fond memories of my grandfather on a ladder gathering the delicious fruits for my grandmother’s amazing cherry pie. The taste of her pie is still so vivid in my mind. The tart, luscious cherries were a perfect contrast with the sweet crunch of sugar sprinkled on a buttery crust. Heavenly.
So when a friend told me about her doctor’s recommendation of tart cherry juice to help her insomnia, I was intrigued. I wondered if it could help my melatonin-popping husband and teen sleep better, naturally. We decided to try the cherry juice as an experiment. I’ll be honest. I was truly surprised when it worked! An ounce in the morning and an ounce at night actually did help them sleep better. According to my research, it actually encourages the body’s own production of melatonin, improving both the quality and quantity of sleep.
Besides improving sleep, there are several other fascinating findings on tart cherry juice.
Studies done using tart cherry juice show that it may:
- Speed recovery after exercise or physical activity, reducing muscle soreness and increasing strength. A study on marathon runners showed that cherry juice drinkers experienced reduced inflammation, muscle soreness, and oxidative stress as well as increased strength compared to a placebo group.
- Reduce systolic blood pressure. Yes, you read that correctly. There are at least 5 studies that suggest that drinking tart cherry juice reduces systolic (that’s the top number) blood pressure.
- Reduce inflammation. At least 11 studies have indicated that cherries or cherry juice may reduce inflammation.
- Reduce pain from arthritis. Studies suggest that tart cherries may help reduce arthritis pain and reduce gout flare-ups (a form of arthritis). Personally, I’ve had success drinking tart cherry juice to alleviate headaches and other minor pain.
- Improve immune system function. Fewer colds, anyone? Remarkably, there is even some evidence that tart cherries can help our bodies fight off upper respiratory infections. If you ever do any long-distance running or endurance exercise, you’ll be especially interested in this study!
- Improve exercise performance. This study of cyclists was fascinating. If you are a runner, biker, weekend warrior, or super mom, take note!
How Much Tart Cherry Juice Should You Drink?
The studies I found used various quantities of juice and/or cherries. As little as an ounce in the morning and again at night helps my son sleep better, while some of the studies used as much as 2 cups (8 oz in morning and evening) of juice a day. You may need to experiment to find the amount that is right for you.
Are There Any Taste Differences Between Brands?
When looking for tart cherry juice, just be sure that juice is the only ingredient on the label. Some brands sell blends that are mostly cherry juice but include other sweeter juices (such as apple) for a sweeter taste and wider appeal. My kids and husband prefer the Cheribundi brand, which is a blend of cherry and apple juice, for this reason. However, I prefer the Trader Joe’s 100% tart cherry juice for its rich tart cherry juice flavor, deeper color, and glass bottle. We buy both, as I can purchase the Cheribundi juice at Costco, which is more convenient than a trip to the further away Trade Joe’s, and the price is a better ($3.33 a quart in a 3 pack vs. $4.99 a quart at Trader Joe’s).
Can You Really Reduce Your Reliance on Ibuprofen or Sleep Aids?
I’m fine with taking ibuprofen for an occasional headache or after an over-exuberant weekend project. But I don’t want to take it every day, or even every week if I can help it. So the idea that a food could be an effective pain reliever, improve my sleep, and even have further health benefits was intriguing to me. I rarely take an over-the-counter pain reliever anymore since I began drinking tart cherry juice. When I do have a headache or muscle aches, I try 4-6 ounces of tart cherry juice first and give it 30 minutes. More often than not, it helps, and I forget to take the ibuprofen!
Why not give it a try?
Do you drink tart cherry juice? Have you experienced any of these benefits first hand? Please leave a comment and let me know!
Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist and do not play one on the Internet. Don’t stop taking prescription medication without the advice of a doctor. Even tart cherry juice is high in sugar, so if you’re a diabetic, do your own research before adding it to your diet. There is some evidence that it can actually improve A1C, but talk to your doctor, do your own research, and make the decision for yourself.
Howatson, G, McHugh MP, Hill JA, Brouner J, Jewell AP, van Someren KA, Shave RE, Howatson SA. (2010, December). Influence of tart cherry juice on Indices of recovery following marathon running. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19883392
Howatson G, Bell PG, Tallent J, Middleton B, McHugh MP, Ellis J. (2012, December). Effect of tart cherry juice (Prunus cerasus) on melatonin levels and enhanced sleep quality. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22038497
Kelley DS, Adkins Y, Laugero KD. (2018, March). A Review of the Health Benefits of Cherries. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29562604
Keane KM, Bailey SJ, Vanhatalo A, Jones AM, Howatson G. (2018, July). Effects of montmorency tart cherry (L. Prunus Cerasus) consumption on nitric oxide biomarkers and exercise performance. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29566443
Dimitriou L, Hill JA, Jehnali A, Dunbar J, Brouner J, McHugh MP, Howatson G. (2015, May). Influence of a montmorency cherry juice blend on indices of exercise-induced stress and upper respiratory tract symptoms following marathon running–a pilot investigation. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25983669