Could Tart Cherry Juice Combat Muscle Soreness?


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  133 comments   :  36,556 Views

Six weeks from today, I, along with 11 of my fellow SparkPeople running pals of the Sparkin' Hood to Coast Team, will be participating in one of the most prestigious long distance relays in the world--The Hood to Coast Relay. The relay begins on the slopes of Mt. Hood at the Timberline Lodge and winds through the Oregon terrain until the last runner crosses the finish line 197 miles down the road in the town of Seaside.

Each runner is given three distinct legs of varying distances, averaging 16 total miles, to be completed within a 31 hour time limit. Participants are expected to provide their own food, water and other amenities. We will be sleeping in short shifts, riding in a van, or waiting at the transition point until it is our turn to run. And because there is little time for muscle recovery in between runs, it has been reported that some runners have been known to experience soreness and stiffness during this time.

So you may be wondering what tart cherry juice has do with running the Hood to Coast Relay?

Well, as luck would have it, I was reviewing my Runner's World email from last week and lo and behold there was a mention of Hood to Coast participants "who drank tart cherry juice twice daily for a week before and during the 197-mile relay and reported feeling less pain than placebo drinkers."

Since being told last year during my RRCA running coach's certification class regarding the unfavorable side effects of using anti-inflammatory meds such as Aleve and Motrin for muscle aches and pains, I have been looking into more natural ways of helping my body speed recovery, including using whole foods, icing after my runs and performing self-myofascial release.

I have known for some time now about the anti-inflammatory properties of consuming blueberries, dark chocolate and pomegranates, but I had never heard of the benefits of consuming tart cherries and tart cherry juice to help lessen muscle soreness and inflammation.

According to Kerry Kuehl, M.D., associate professor of medicine at Oregon Health and Science University School of Medicine and lead author of the study regarding the use of tart cherry juice for recovery, "the runners who drank 10.5 ounces of Montmorency cherry juice twice a day for seven days prior to the race and then drank that amount every eight hours on race day experienced less inflammation and reported faster muscle strength recovery."

Upon reading this information I put a notice out to my fellow runners about this new finding. Hopefully by the time I make the trek from Texas to Oregon there will be plenty of tart cherry juice waiting in the vans for us all to drink up as we travel down the winding roads and embark on one of the greatest journeys in running.

Were you aware of the benefits of tart cherry juice? How much would you be willing to spend for this juice if the facts show that it actually does diminish inflammation? Do you believe the antioxidant qualities of certain foods live up to the hype?

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    I had no clue about the cherries. Living here in Oregon and in the Rurals at that, we are surrounded by orchards and vineyards of every kind. Every June when the Bings are ready, we go to our favorite seller and by the time the Bings are done, we will have eaten 40 pounds or more fresh with very few making it to the freezer for snacking on. - 7/22/2010   6:32:53 PM
  • 82
    I have to apologize to my grandmother. More and more of her "country" remedies are being proved correct all of the time.

    I love cherries. I love cherry juice. I love cherry pies. Wait a minute! Honest to Pete, my DW's name is Cherry, and pronounced just the same! Hmmmm..... - 7/22/2010   5:29:18 PM
  • 81
    I heard that tart cherry juice is good for gout - 7/22/2010   5:05:22 PM
  • 80
    Traverse City just wrapped up the annual Cherry Festival; we are well informed about the wonderful health benefits of cherries. Here are a couple of links and yes it is true!!

    - 7/22/2010   4:25:26 PM
  • 79
    I prefer to eat the cherries, fresh or dried. The less processing the better. Cherry leather would be good. I use them for RA stiffness & muscle soreness. They are not a panecea, nor effective in small medicinal doses, but when eaten in quantity as a regular fruit, 2-3 servings a day, I can feel the difference & so far haven't developed hives. - 7/22/2010   3:33:34 PM
  • 78
    YES, YES, OH YES!!! I get so excited when cherrytyme rolls NOW!! Black Cherry juice is a remedy for inflamation of the joints and gout. I have been using the juice for over 25 yrs. Not for my joints, back then, but because I LOVE CHERRIES!! Now I have arthritis in my knee due to Lyme disease. So, I eat them fresh, I buy Black Cherry Juice (organic) at Stop & Shop for 3.99 a 32 oz bottle of Nature's Promise Brand, AND I order Nature's Plus Black Cherry Liquid Supplement at...26.70 a 30 oz bottle. BUT it works and is all natural and is good for you. The money would be spent on what??? chocolate, chips , meat, junk!!! Substitute what is bad, for what is good and the money doesn't matter!!! Just good nutrition, better life and happy times, pain-free. I envy the folks in cherry tree country. They are my second favorite fruit next to blueberries! Use the juice in mixes with smoothies and other fruits like watermelon, or strawberries if you don't like the taste of straight cherrry. You'll never know it's there. but your joints will. - 7/22/2010   3:06:18 PM
  • 77
    Great article Nancy! Still trying to figure out if the stuff I bought is from the right cherry. - 7/22/2010   3:02:50 PM
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    OH sorry Hope U all have a save run and do as well as you hope too. I sure do believe the antioxidant qualities of certain foods live up to the hype! And as to cost ,well will pay for food over drugs that sure are not cheap - 7/22/2010   2:21:12 PM
  • 75
    Well ,not heard of tart cherries benifit,but as to herbs and natural foods I check them out for what troubles me.And believe they are a whole lot better for one ,then any man made type drugs. And when you hear all the side affects,even thou they say low% of people will have them .And sure the FDA dont control herbs,yet I read more doctors do tell people to take them.Fact is companys that make drugs plain make too much money on drugs ,and put down herbal use cause of it.Let alone the value of even some foods.Like anything one has to give whatever ,along enough time to see if it helps them.As too any drugs NO Thanks!! Like for one ,I have not had cold or flu in over 14 years And I sure dont get flu shots,and at 66 yrs old and come in contact with those that do have flu and colds .Hard not to if you go around people.So I will stay with natural foods and herbs,So yes I would take tart cherries,over Aleve or any of them type pills.I just found for self ,some things work as, some dont,but worth the try,as to meds a doctor will give that may or may not work, that have side affects worst then what some take it for.Each their own - 7/22/2010   2:12:20 PM
    Great if cherries can provide pain relief, but do they slow down muscle repair in the same way that OTC anti-inflammatory medicines do? - 7/22/2010   1:50:09 PM
    I have heard that cheery juice is beneficial in alieviating the pain of attacks of gout. I do not think we can get this juice in England and I would like to try it when gout plagues me. - 7/22/2010   1:28:55 PM
  • 72
    I was not aware of the benefits but I will share the information with my husband who loves to run. - 7/22/2010   12:50:52 PM
    I am so happy to read about this. After training and completing a 1/2 marathon earlier this year, I have been suffering from bursitis in both of my hips as well as IT band syndrome. I have been looking for natural alternatives to NSAIDS and am really excited about trying this out. Thanks for posting! - 7/22/2010   12:38:53 PM
  • 70
    Historically, cherries were used to treat gout pain and my husband's father used it all the time to deal with his aches and pains (he was born in 1905!). It didn't matter if he ate juice, the whole fruit, cherry preserves, or even cherry pie filling straight out of the can when he was desperate. It worked for him and he lived well into his 90's. So it's nice to have science verify that he wasn't crazy, and neither is the rest of my family! ;-) Rock on, @HIPPICHICK1 and try other forms of cherries for your gout - it's all good!! - 7/22/2010   12:19:41 PM
    Very Interesting! - 7/22/2010   12:07:37 PM
  • 68
    Much too expensive for me. I'll take a couple of ASPIRIN and decrease my inflammation.
    But if you are a runner who can afford to fly around the country to go to races, I guess it isn't a big deal. - 7/22/2010   12:06:15 PM
    My mother swears by canned cherries for fever. Maybe she's on to something; some illnesses that cause a fever also cause joint aches.Or maybe not :) - 7/22/2010   12:04:40 PM
  • 66
    I've heard of it for joint pain, especially that of gout! - 7/22/2010   12:00:36 PM
    I heard about Cherry Juice relieving joint and muscle pain over 20 years ago but I never tried it. Thanks for the reminder. I will be buying some on my next trip to the health food store. - 7/22/2010   11:35:18 AM
  • 64
    oh gosh.. THANK YOU for telling me this.. I had heard of it years ago and keep forgetting.. my new juicer will be here in a few weeks and now i just read here that I can buy frozen cherries.. woohooo. i will make this a daily drink.. anything to get rid of all these daily achs and pains i have had for years.. The pain is really getting me down .. and i have tried so many different pain pills.. THANK YOU . this will be tried by me.. lol.. - 7/22/2010   11:25:43 AM
  • 63
    Um, what's the placebo for tart cherry juice? It's pretty distinctive tasting - wouldn't you know if you weren't getting the juice? - 7/22/2010   11:06:22 AM
  • 62
    I am not a runner so I can't speak to that, but I have gout and pure cherry juice just plain eases any gout attack I have.....I assume part of it is anti-inflamatory. - 7/22/2010   11:01:57 AM
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    If it was available in a pill form, I'd try it. The taste of cherries just gags me! - 7/22/2010   11:01:53 AM
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    I am so happy to read this. I'm going to start drinking it to see if I can alleviate the pain in my hip that no one else has been able to. - 7/22/2010   10:41:03 AM
  • 59
    My friend buys the frozen cherries at Wal-mart...I'm buying some for my sore knees! - 7/22/2010   10:37:15 AM
  • 58
    In 2007 I had three gouts attacks in both of my feet. I couldn't walk without excruciating pain. I didn't know it was gout. My first doctor thought it was a stress fracture, but then the other foot got the same exact pain so that was ruled out. I then sought out another doctor who sent me to the lab for testing on suspicion that I may have gout. With that information I went home and researched gout on the Internet and right then and there, without the test results having come back, I decided to try to alleviate my pain by following some of the nutritional recommendations, one of which was to drink cherry juice. So I did. That is when I began to think of foods as medicine. Along with cutting out foods containing purines (that if can not be processed by the kidneys create uric acid crystals that attack the joints causing intense pain we call gout) and eating more fresh vegetables, fruits and fruit juices, I completely eliminated my gout pain in 4 days. Cherry juice was a big part of it. Yes, it's expensive. In Canada, organic cherry juice is about $8 for a glass jar (can't recall how big it is....probably more than a litre though) and it's even really high in calories - about 180 for an 8 ounce glass - but when you have pain so bad that you can't walk or even tolerate the weight of a bed sheet on your foot while trying to sleep, it's worth every penny and every calorie! And I prefer natural remedies to prescription medication so for me cherry juice and a modified diet was the best choice. - 7/22/2010   10:04:10 AM
    I have a knee problem, lots of pain due to arthritis. I read an article in a Health magazine about a runner that developed serious knee pain and tried Tart Cherry Juice and it helped her so I tried it and low and behold it really worked. I drink about 3-4 ounces a day and my knee pain disappeared. I get it at a local health food store, pay about $6.00 on sale, $7.49 not on sale and a bottle lasts a week. I don't think that's too much, much cheaper than pills and more healthy. lindadm - 7/22/2010   9:57:22 AM
  • 56
    Tart cherry juice is very big news in Michigan. About 70% of the tart cherry crop is grown in Northern Michigan and they take cherries very, very seriously. Besides tart cherry juice, there are also concentrates and supplements. - 7/22/2010   9:53:28 AM
  • 55
    This is so interesting. I see cherrys on sale everywhere so I'm going to get some while I hunt down the tart cherry juice. If anyone has a link or buying options for the juice that would be super. Thanks for this. - 7/22/2010   9:52:09 AM
  • 54
    Once again nature provides us with great solutions! I love cherries and the benefits of this juice makes it a great bonus. Thanks for the info! - 7/22/2010   9:49:00 AM
  • 53
    I love fresh bing cherries. I had never read anything about drinking cherry juice or eating cherries, but I know that only 15-20 cherries a day will keep my arthirtic hands from throbbing. On the days I don't t eat the cherries, my hands hurt. Cherries have been on sale here and I have loaded up. I also have given them to my 88 year old mom who has gout. They helped a bunch! - 7/22/2010   9:40:10 AM
  • 52
    I love cherries but have never seen cherry juice. I get bursitis in my hip sometimes and I have a herniated disc that acts of if I'm not careful, so I think I'm going to find some and keep it on hand and see if that helps with the pain when they are acting up. Can't hurt! - 7/22/2010   9:33:30 AM
  • 51
    Now that you mention it, I remember this about cherry juice. My BIL has gout and he drinks this every day to help with inflammation. Hmmm....I think I'll be making a trip to the store! :D - 7/22/2010   9:33:29 AM
    I haven't heard of the studies that say that tart cherry juice can help reduce muscle soreness and inflammation. This is an interesting subject.

    I suppose it's not impossible for cherry juice to have that effect, but I'd have to try it myself to be sure. I do believe that fruits and veggies are loaded with vital nutrients and anti-oxidants. As Hippocrates once said,"let food be your medicine".

    How much would I pay ? Here's the dilemma. How many so called supplement companies are going to jump on this "study" and churn out their own bottles of tart cherry juice ? What claims will they make on their bottles ?

    That's the problem when studies like this come out. How pure does the cherry juice have to be to achieve these results ? Because you know someone is going to create a knock off. Look at what happened to the pomegranate and acai berry. Both are great fruits and yet, a study comes out claiming they can help a person lose weight. the next thing you know, everyone is selling acai berry weight loss juice.

    getting off topic, I'd pay for pure cherry juice, not a knock off juice. I want the real thing if I were to try it.

    - 7/22/2010   9:26:46 AM
    I'd never drink the tart-cherry juice, though, if I had fresh Montmorency cherries handy!!!! Why did it take me 58 years to discover them at the farmers' market?? I wish I could get my big ol' mitts on 'em ALL the time! Good luck to you, Nancy; you're a very wise and knowledgeable woman! - 7/22/2010   9:08:34 AM
  • 48
    Great article Nancy! And all of us Hood to Coasters appreciate you passing this info on to us! - 7/22/2010   8:59:38 AM
  • 47
    Yes, I was aware of this. I have friends & relatives with arthritis who have passed this along. It Works! - 7/22/2010   8:58:52 AM
  • 46
    I am drinking mine right now while catching up on Spark People!!! - 7/22/2010   8:46:57 AM
  • 45
    Thanks for the information. - 7/22/2010   8:46:04 AM
  • 44
    If you take a shot glass of pure black cherry Juice, your gout will be in control . My mother does it everyday - 7/22/2010   8:18:52 AM
    Yes, I just recently heard of it from a co-worker and it seems to be working for her
    I am going to look into it .
    Very interesting blog Thanks - 7/22/2010   8:11:00 AM
  • 42
    My grandmother swore by cherries to ease her paine from arthritis. She also ate some fresh garlic every day in her oatmeal (it is an acquired taste) and utilized rose hips and many other remedies that are now being verified by "studies"......... - 7/22/2010   7:24:20 AM
    What concentrate and how much does one drink? I will try this!!!!!!! - 7/22/2010   7:21:13 AM
    Cherrry Juice has been used for years to treat the infammation caused by gout. Many swear by it. It costs anywhere from $18.00 to $30.00 per bottle. Instructions, however, indicate that 1-2 oz. a day are plenty to relieve the pain of inflammation, so a 20 oz bottle lasts 10-20 days. This is still a little steep for me, but there are plenty of people who spend this to achieve the pain reducing benefits. - 7/22/2010   6:32:26 AM
    Very interesting - 7/22/2010   5:54:41 AM
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    I've not heard of this before, but I do believe that for many people natural, whole foods are a great answer to what ails them. - 7/22/2010   5:49:38 AM
  • 37
    This is interesting, and something I've never heard before. I'll have to keep my eye out for it when I'm grocery shopping, and give it a try! - 7/22/2010   4:33:18 AM
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    I never knew, but I'm willing to give it a try, and welcome to Oregon for the Hood to Coast. - 7/22/2010   4:21:33 AM
  • 35
    When I was a kid, my dad was always talking about eating cherries for gout. Maybe he was right, I always thought he just wanted us to eat cherries.... - 7/22/2010   3:16:22 AM
  • 34
    I had a man in his 80's tell me that this relieved his arthritic pain.
    I never really believed him.
    Maybe I should have. - 7/22/2010   2:11:30 AM

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