Tart cherry juice is now becoming a popular drink for everything from heart disease, insomnia, and muscle pain to preventing cancer.
It’s in commercial products such as Cheribundi Tru Cherry Tart Cherry Juice, Nature Blessed Cherry Juice, and others.
Tart cherry juice contains antioxidants including vitamin C, vitamin E, kaempferol, and quercetin.
In addition, the juice has anti-inflammatory effects and might reduce markers of muscle damage after exercise. According to The Review of Natural Products by Facts and Comparisons (St. Louis, MO: Wolters Kluwer Co., 1999), “A preliminary study suggests that compounds found in the sour cherry may have anti-inflammatory effects that are ten times stronger than aspirin but without aspirin’s side effects.”
Tart cherry juice is also a natural source of melatonin. Some people are using it to improve sleep. According to the experts at the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, “Drinking two 8 ounce servings daily for 14 days might modestly improve some measures of sleep in older adults.”
They add that according to one study: “A specific juice blended from whole Montmorency tart cherries and apple juice has been used (Tru Cherry Cheribundi, CherryPharm, Inc., USA). More evidence is needed to rate sour cherry for this use.” Tru Cherry has about 120 calories per 8 ounce serving.
According to another publication, the melatonin content seems to vary between different varieties of sour cherry. Montomorency cherries contain about 13 ng of melatonin per gram of fruit, and Balaton cherries contain about 2 ng per gram.
The NMCD tells us physicians, “Explain to patients that this is promising, but very preliminary.”
For now, tart cherry juice likely does no harm and may help some folks with insomnia and may be worth a try to prevent muscle aches after exercise.