Evidence based medical wellness for active people from a doc who walks the walk

Why I am drinking tart cherry juice


I got a little crazy at Vitamin Cottage the other day and bought some tart cherry juice concentrate. The theory is that it will make my  joints and muscles hurt less after exercise.  I did a bit of research, and it fit my criteria for supplements:

  1. It must do no harm. I refuse to take something that could hurt me.  (Black coash is a good example. There are documented cases of liver failure attributed to it’s use.)
  2. It is helpful, or may be helpful.

So here is the data:

  • Long distance runners have less muscle pain after an event if they drank sour cherry juice twice per day for 7 days prior to the event.  (Here is the dose: 600 mg phenolic compounds,  and at least 40 mg anthocyanins) Click here for the study.
  • Another study (click here) looked at 58 obese (BMI 30 or more) patients, split in to two groups.  One group received tart cherry juice, the other placebo. This part of the study lasted for 6 weeks, with the participants taking cherry juice or placebo daily. The cherry juice was mixed with apple juice and had 450 mg phenolic compounds, and at least 30 mg anthocyanins.  After 6 weeks, the participants took nothing for a week. Then those that hadn’t previously taken the cherry juice started taking it, and the other group switched to placebo for six more weeks.  The study had patients fill out the WOMAC score to assess pain and stiffness. (Click here to see it and take it yourself).  Those taking the cherry juice had decreased pain and stiffness compared to those that took the placebo. The (sad) kicker: the cherry juice drinkers were not statistically that much better than the placebo takers. Bottom line, the data doesn’t show a clear benefit from the cherry juice.

My WOMAC score was 30%, which is pretty low. (Yup, I should quit whining!)

BUT! Given that there are benefits with decreased muscle pain, and there may be benefits with decreased pain related to osteoarthritis, I’m slurping down my juice once per day.  It can’t hurt!

Here's my bottle of concentrated cherry juice. It doesn't contain any added sweetners. I mix it with water.

Here’s my bottle of concentrated cherry juice. It doesn’t contain any added sweeteners. I mix it with water. So far so good!

Author: PookieMD

I am a board certified internal medicine physician. I love medicine and seek to bring evidence based medicine to the fitness and wellness world.

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