The Surprising Results of My Tart Cherry Juice Challenge

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been experimenting with tart cherries as a workout recovery aid, as part of 7-Day Tart Cherry Juice Challenge and series of posts sponsored by the Cherry Marketing Institute. Well, the results are in.

When I wrote “surprising” in the title, I meant it. But not for the reason you might expect (which, come to think of it, is what surprise means).

In case you missed the introductory post, here’s how my experiment set up:

  1. Run every day for a week, including several hard running workouts.
  2. Drink one tablespoon of tart cherry concentrate twice a day — once in the morning and once immediately post-run. (This is half the amount I wrote in the first post, where a reader pointed out my mistake and I corrected it before I began the challenge.)

It’s important to note that this running was supposed to represent a challenging week. While I’ve been running a fair amount this summer, my typical week prior to this experiment has been pretty relaxed … about four runs, 30 to 40 minutes each, and all at easy pace.

The point of my experiment, of course, was to put myself through a training week that would normally create a lot of soreness and fatigue. In this way, I’d be able to tell whether or not the tart cherries lived up to claim that they aid in recovery.

Everything went to plan, with one exception: I traded a planned long run on the last day for a second interval workout. This had nothing to do with how my body felt, and everything to do with a renewed interest in speedwork (and a renewed boredom with slow runs) that my return to interval training brought on.

So did the cherries help?

Here’s what I noticed:

1. I never felt any muscle soreness. Not once. This was really surprising; I expected that I’d at least feel something after my first interval workout and first hard hill workout after (no exaggeration) years without doing either.

2. I felt very strong through the first four days, including two tough workouts, but I did find myself dragging a bit during my easy run the day after my hill workout. (Not all that surprising, all things considered. The cherry juice didn’t miraculously turn me into Meb.)

3. The big surprise: a nagging shoulder injury I’ve had for months improved dramatically, and last Thursday night was the first night in a long time that I slept through the night without any shoulder pain whatsoever.

It’s actually this third point that I’m most excited about, and it’s the reason I’m going to stick with the twice-a-day cherry concentrate regimen even after my free supply runs out.

I’ve had this shoulder thing going on since February, brought on by a month of everyday pushups and pullups. (It’s a flare-up of an injury that happened about 10 years ago when I was into lifting heavy weights.) I’ve self-diagnosed it as a torn rotator cuff, but my wife, who actually knows things, tells me it’s absolutely not that, that I’d be in much more pain if anything were torn.

Still, it’s a bother. It hurts whenever I use a can opener, turn a doorknob, pick something up at the wrong angle, or lift my right arm above my head. Worst of all, it affects my sleep, waking me up multiple times a night. And because I do all of these things so often, it hasn’t healed, even after I stopped the pushups and pullups months ago. In fact, it’s gotten worse since then.

Until last week, when finally it improved. Quickly.

Is it the cherries?

While I’m fully aware of the power of the placebo effect, I just can’t believe a change like this can be due to anything but the cherries.

Maybe I shouldn’t be so shocked: I know that I respond well to anti-inflammatories, probably because I almost never take them. When I had major IT band syndrome in early 2009 that prevented me from running, it didn’t improve until I finally broke down and took the NSAIDs the doctor prescribed. Once I did, it improved right away, and pretty soon I stopped taking the NSAIDs and was fine.

I tried the same for this shoulder problem, an ibuprofen tablet each night before bed. It helped a little, but when I read the fine print on the bottle of ibuprofen and started envisioning a bleeding hole in my stomach, I stopped taking it. (Yep, that’s how I roll.)

Tart cherry juice, to my knowledge, does not put me at risk for a bleeding hole in my stomach. Win. And it has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. According to the rules of the challenge, I drank it — just one tablespoon, diluted with water, twice a day — for seven straight days, and I’ve kept it up for many more days because it has worked so well.

And like that, my shoulder has finally stopped hurting me. Not really science, I know. But it’s working when nothing else has, so I see no reason to doubt it.

A Chocolate Cherry Smoothie Recipe

IMG 0947 225x300

Our chocolate-cherry smoothie with tart cherry concentrate (hand-modeled by my wife, Erin, in her garden)

Tart cherry juice has been simple to incorporate into my routine twice a day. I either add it to my smoothie in the morning or shoot it back with water. A little tart, but not at all unenjoyable. In the afternoon, I drink it mixed with water right after my run, and at this point it tastes really good, like any sports drink. If I weren’t limiting it for the purpose of the experiment, I’d probably drink more of it after runs just because it tastes good in the moment.

Some days, I’ve added the cherry juice to a typical smoothie, whatever variety it happened to be each day. But many days I experimented with a chocolate-cherry smoothie recipe. Here’s my favorite variation:

  • 2.5 cups water
  • 1/4 cup raw walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 2 tablespoons flax seeds
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
  • 3 tablespoons tart cherry juice concentrate
  • 1 cup frozen cherries
  • 1/2 cup frozen raspberries
  • 1/2 cup frozen spinach
  • 3 ice cubes
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1 to 1.5 ounces raw cacao (unsweetened)

Blend until smooth in a high-speed blender. Makes about three 12-ounce smoothies, each with the recommended one tablespoon of tart cherry concentrate.

(This is actually quite similar to my usual smoothie, with the base of nuts and seeds in these proportions. But usually it’s strawberries and blueberries instead of cherries, and no cacao.)

My wife and I have also played around with dried cherries in the kitchen. In the third and final post in this series later this month, I’ll share a few more recipes we’ve come up with for incorporating tart cherries into our routine.

Thanks for following along with my experiment!

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Comments

  1. I added Tart Cherry juice to my diet when I had a lot of inflammation in my foot two weeks before my first marathon, and as a preventative one the week before my second marathon. I wasn’t as scientific with monitoring the effects but I would definitely try it again. Especially as I am injury prone and have a bad habit of taking more NSAIDs then I really need.

  2. Thanks for testing this out, Matt! I’m going to give this a shot too. I have a very minor shoulder injury that bothers me, it sounds almost identical to yours (to a much lesser extent, though). I got mine from tripping while trail running. We’ll see if tart cherry juice helps!

  3. AngelaMurphy says:

    Great to hear that you had such good results with the Tart Cherry. I bought some for my husband to use, hoping to help his knees feel better. I made my own version of the Chocolate Covered Cherry smoothie this morning and I might be buying some more. BTW, on week 8 of the Marathon Roadmap and feeling great!

  4. Great write up Matt! My concern for tart cherries has always been their natural source of melatonin in the montmorency cherries. I don’t want it to cause me to be sleepy during the day so I never take it except in the evening. I have been taking a shot glass full of the concentrate of it nightly for several years. I sleep like a baby! :)

    • Matt,
      I read about the melatonin levels too. Did you feel any such drowsiness during the day?
      Or is it only in the instances where you take copious amounts?

      • Hi Yohann- Since I have taken montmorency cherry juice concentrate for the past couple years, but only at night, I wanted to test it out for a few days and take a serving after my morning workout as well as also before bed as I normally do. I typically take 1 shot glass full. I did it for the past 4 days and each day I was quite run down for the rest of the day. Today I did not take any yet (it is now almost 9pm) and have had a plethora of energy. I ran and did lunges this morning and just got back from doing several hill repeats on my road bike for 20 miles. I feel great. So I will be going back to solely taking it at night and not every during the day.

  5. I might have missed this, but can you buy tart cherry juice or do I have to make it?

    • Jim, you can buy it. I’ve seen dried tart cherries in stores, and I believe the juice is common too. I was told by the sponsors of this challenge that the concentrate is in many grocery stores, too. Mine was sent to me, so I can’t say for sure.

  6. Connie Ness says:

    Can you post which brand you use. You are talking about a concentrate – not the juice?

    • Connie, I actually don’t know what brand it is; and I think that’s on purpose. Everything they’ve sent me has been completely unlabeled. I’m asking to see if I can find out.

      But yes, I’ve been using a concentrate. I did try the juice the first few days, but that went very quickly.

  7. 1. I am assuming I can get tart cherry juice at Whole Foods or a variety of other stores, but what about the tart cherry concentrate?
    2. The concentrate is 2 tbsp per day, one in the AM and the other post-activity. What about the juice?
    I am really excited to try this :)

  8. It’s great to read this today, Matt! I just came across tart cherry concentrate today at a natural foods store I shop at and decided against it when I saw the price. And I guess the fact that I developed an allergic reaction to cherries a few years ago didn’t make me think twice. But I’m thinking that I might go ahead and pick it up tomorrow given that I constantly fight through a sharp right knee pain that comes and goes ever since track in high school. It doesn’t stop me from killing intervals on the track or slow ultra distance long runs, but like you expressed in the post: why not give it a shot?

    Thanks!

  9. Matt, can you tell me what brand of tart cherry concentrate you used and where you bought it? Thanks!

    • Rashelle (and everyone else who asked about what brand I used),

      The product I got was completely unlabeled — literally handwritten on the bottles which was juice and which was concentrate, no branding at all. And I’m pretty sure that was the point; the Cherry Marketing Institute has sponsored all of this and I don’t think they want to favor one brand over another. But I’ll ask and see what I can find out.

      • I just like that there is something called the Cherry Marketing Institute! I am imagining a conference room full of people who are REALLY into cherries!

  10. I tried tart cherry juice after a long-run a few times and thought I was just imagining that it helped. Funny, I just bought some more now that I’m into marathon training — and I’m glad I did after reading this!!

  11. The shoulder injury sounds like a shoulder separation, something I deal with a lot due to my job and training for Tough Mudder. If it hurts when you reach for the car door to close it, doing push ups, or other similar acts then it prob is a separation. I wear a McDavid support and it helps so much. Will try tart cherry juice too!

  12. Jess Munkee says:

    Weird, my husband has similar shoulder pain. I was following this for me, but now I think we’ll both have to try it out.

  13. Does it need to be the concentrate? I bought the juice which is just water and concentrate anyway? But I’d like to try it the best way possible. I’ve been dealing with horrible plantar fasciitis and I’ll try anything, especially with low risk. Thanks, Anne

    • Hi Anne. The juices found at stores have been heat packed which greatly reduces the key anthocyanins and phytonutrients. Be sure to opt for FruiFast or a 68 brix, cold filled cherry concentrate and mix at home if using for health reasons.

      • Hi Ken where can I buy these? I am in Sydney Australia and we don’t have your wholefoods here. Is there some where online you get them?

        • Hi Gaye. You can easily order from FruitFast direct here: http://international.brownwoodacres.com/ The CherryFlex Softgels contain no sugars and are easily as effective. You my email me for more info as well at ken (at) fruitfast dot com. Matt is absolutely right about these Tart Cherry Products. Just be sure to use a cold filled, single ingredient product.

    • Try trigger point muscle therapy. upper back calf muscle is related to heel pain. Hang in there.

    • Nicki O'Connell says:

      Be very careful Anne, I ran with what I thought was plantar fasciitis until I partially ripped my posterior tibial tendon. Pain is very similar, I’d had PF before, and it fooled me.

    • I have plantar fasciitis right now as well and a half marathon in less than a month. I’ve been foam rolling like crazy on my calves and it has helped a ton. I’ve continued to run through it and it seems to get better as a run progresses.

      It totally blows. Good luck!

      • Hoka’s cured my PF after YEARS of problems– cortisone injections, Straussberg socks, foam rolling the calves– all helped but didn’t fix it. Hoka’s fixed it. I never have pain from running now even after training for half ironmans.

        • Yes, Hoka’s completely saved my running – I could barely walk 3 months before the marathon. I limped to the running store and was more or less pain free in 2 weeks and its been gone ever since. I’m probably boring everyone to death on the subject but I was so thrilled with the results.

        • Hi Donna can you please tell me which Hokas you tried to help with the Plantar Facittis?
          Or Matt if you have any suggestions?

          I bought 2 pairs of shoes the new Adidas Energy Boost and Ravenna by Brooks but neither are helping and I still cant run past 8km-10km without pain.
          Thanks

        • Hi Donna was it any particular model in the hoka range that you found worked best or are they all similar? I have had PF too for months and have tried everything so far nothing has worked I will try to find these shoes and the tart cherry.

    • Hi Anne, see the infographic on the introductory post … juice is fine, and even one option for the daily servings in the 7-day challenge. Like you said, the juice isn’t so different from (and often is just) water and concentrate.

    • Anne me too. I was training for my first marathon to run in May and in Feb I got a very bad case of plantar facitis too and would love to try this as nothing else has worked. Let me know how you go?
      Matt thanks for sharing this experience if you have any advice for Plantar facitis would you please advise.
      Thanks

      • Gaye,
        What helped me was my chirpractor using ART and Graston on a calcified tendon at me heel. It hurt they crazy but it worked. You may need to scrap your race. I know it blows but heal now and run afain later. I switched to Newton running shoes and they nelped me, mostly because I now have a more forefoot stride and shorter stride.

  14. I chose to do the concentrate mostly when I did the challenge too! It’s so freaking tasty!

  15. More supporting evidence for a healthy, helpful and delicious fruit. Thank you. FruitFast.com is the nation’s #1 selling brand of Tart Cherry Juice Concentrate and, we manufacture a whole fruit Tart Cherry Paste called CherryFlex. Let me know when you would like to perform the same type of challenge with an even stronger product Matt! – Ken

  16. I have a mild case of rheumatoid arthritis, love being active, and dislike the negative consequences of daily NSAID use. As a scientist by trade, I’ve tried a bit of experimentation by varying a weekly regime of tart cherry juice, NSAIDs, other juice, and nothing at all. I couldn’t tell the difference between a cherry juice week and an NSAID week. The positive effect of tart cherry juice has persisted now for more than 2 years, and I rarely have to resort to prescription meds. I can’t imagine it’s just placebo!

  17. Can you reccomend any specific brand? Does it have to be concentrate? I really want to try this!

    • Hey Jim, I don’t know which brand (if any) I’ve been drinking; the bottle is unlabeled. But yes, juice is fine too, at least according to the rules of their 7-day challenge.

  18. Matt, I’ve had shoulder pain for years that sounds similar to what you describe. My doctor’s diagnosis was torn labrum. PT and strength exercise has helped a lot but I still have some pain, probably because of hours a day of computer use. Great post!

  19. I’m not surprised. Nutrition is the cause and cure of most ailments. Love cherries so this is a good thing. Thanks.

  20. I’ve had clients use tart cherry for year to remedy gout. It’s very effective for flare ups. Stands to reason it would help with non-gout inflammations too. Good to know. Thanks for taking the challenge.

  21. I just started training for my first half marathon (and just started running), I’m going to try this!

  22. Patrick Nottingham says:

    So to clarify you only did 1 tablespoon twice a day? Doesn’t the chart indicate 2 tablespoons twice a day? The bottle nutritional info indicates 2 tablespoons are equal to one serving.

  23. Chelsea Conlin says:

    Very cool results! According to nutritionfacts.org sweet cherries might be even more effective: http://nutritionfacts.org/video/anti-inflammatory-life-is-a-bowl-of-cherries/

    • Yeah, I’m not sure about the sweet cherries vs. tart. When I asked, they told me that there’s a lot of debate about it, but most of the science has been done on tart cherries so that’s what they recommend.

  24. Could you let us know what brand you used? I’d like to try this while training for my first marathon.

    • Kaitlyn, my bottle was unlabeled (I don’t think they want me to know the specific brand, since the sponsor is the Cherry Marketing Institute, not a brand).

  25. What brand did you use?

  26. Can anyone recommend a good source for the concentrate from Amazon? I looked at a couple of the products on Amazon and some of the reviews weren’t so great. Whole Foods isn’t super close to me. Excited to try this!

    • Matthew says:

      Yes! I want to know a good source too! It would be good if Matt just posted the brand that they sent him.

      • Matthew and Jamie, I don’t know which brand I’ve been using because my bottle of concentrate and bag of cherries were unlabeled, I assume because the Cherry Marketing Institute (who sponsored this challenge) doesn’t want it to be associated with a particular brand. But I’ll report in the final cherries post next week on what I hear back about the best place to order online.

    • AshleyRan says:

      I am very pleased with the product from Cherry Bay Orchards. Their Tart Cherry Juice Concentrate is moderately priced and the shipping is not so bad if you order a case at a time. We order the 32 oz. (case of 8). Still not cheap, but much less than lots of other sports beverages that don’t have the same benefits.

  27. Michelle says:

    How much of the juice would one need to drink in the morning and then after running?
    We don’t have the concentrate in my area, just the juice. Thanks!

    • Michelle, I believe it would be 8 ounces of juice in the morning, and then 8 ounces later on in the day (ideally after running). At least that’s the amount that most of the science is based on.

      • Hi Matt I spent the day checking out my local stores and can only find Lakewood Organics juice but its only 45% tart cherry plus lots of additives. I eventually found Smartjuice its 100% coldpressed juice which I tried last night and tastes great but being juice it won’t last long and I believe its still been heated in pasteurization does that matter?
        We don’t have much choice here and I couldn’t find a concentrate. Can you please recommend a brand that can be bought on iherb.com or somewhere I can buy direct as Amazon don’t ship most food products to Australia we have strict customs. Thanks so excited to see if this works on my PF.

  28. Cherries are an excellent source of nutrition. They’re also a natural sleep aid, so instead of late night snacking you can eat a bowl of cherries to help you sleep as well.

  29. Isabelle B says:

    I bought the tart cherry juice (not concentrate) from Trader Joe’s and it was very sweet! I was shocked. Am I buying the wrong product??

    • Hmm, I’m not sure. Mine was surprisingly palatable … I expected pure sourness, based on the name “tart cherry.” No label, so I don’t know how much sugar per serving, but assuming it’s the same as what the web gives for standard tart cherry juice sugar content, it’s not all that high. Does yours have a lot of added sugar?

    • Isabelle, The juice you bought may have been only a little bit of tart cherry and the rest is filler — usually grape or apple juice. BEWARE.

      I buy Dynamic Health Organic Tart Cherry Juice Concentrate. It’s usually $15 for a 16oz bottle, but it last a long time because it’s a concentrate.

  30. I’m wondering if all the concentrates are the same strength… I just bought the Solaray product, which says the “serving” is 2 tablespoons. So were you doing just one serving per day, in two parts? As a possible point of reference, the labeling on the Solaray product says a “serving” contains 17 grams of total carbs, and 70 calories. Thanks! Great, informative post.

    • Doris, I made a mistake in typing this post (and that was in trying to correct a mistake in the first post — sorry for the confusion!). The correct amount (which I’ve updated the post with) is one ounce, or two tablespoons, twice per day.

  31. After reading this post, I headed out to my local Wegmans. Bought Dynamic Health Organic Certified Tart Cherry Juice Concentrate. No additives. Cost $10.49 for a 16 oz bottle (32 T per bottle). I have a triathlon in 2 weeks and a foot injury which is keeping me from running comfortably. I just tried the Choc Cherry Smoothie and it’s delicious. I will definitely be “going cherry” in the coming days. Relief from pain would be welcomed. Thanks for this timely blog.

  32. I’ve been drinking 6oz of Tart Cherry Juice twice daily for a few weeks now. I have noticed some reduction in soreness. Trader Joe’s carries a reasonabilly priced quart size.

  33. Gretchen Russell says:

    We ADORE tart cherry juice!!! As cyclists (and my hubby is a runner too) we go thru a bottle of concentrate every other month or so. Mixed with 12oz coconut water and 8oz water 2tbsp concentrate is the PERFECT electrolyte beverage on the bike. We also drink the water/concentrate mix after really hard rides/runs as a recovery drink. I have bad arthritis in both knees and worried I’d have to give up my beloved bike. Not since we discovered this drink! No swelling or horrible pain the next day anymore for this girl! I even used the recipe in a vegan/gf powerball snack class I taught locally last year. It’s definitely our go-to.

  34. Very interesting and I’m glad I just got a huge bag of frozen tart cherries from Costco for smoothies! Thanks.

  35. Interesting. I was just listening to a podcast that recommended tart cherry juice to improve sleep instead of melatonin. Then I go to the store and see the shelves lined with multiple brands. You’re on to something!

  36. What brand of tart cherry juice did you buy? I think it’s pretty expensive! I saw Trader Joe’s has tart cherry juice though but I’m not sure if it’s as concentrated?

  37. Matt. Just read your tart cherry juice post. I’ve had similar shoulder pain for 7 yrs (grrrrrr) which was finally diagnosed as calcific tendonitis via X-ray when I broke my clavicle shortly after seeing you in Portland. A few round of steroids later and it still hurts…guess who’s buying cherry extract soon! Ck out this link and see if the symptoms sound familiar. It’s be a near miracle if this would make this pain go away.
    http://www.med.nyu.edu/content?ChunkIID=445931

  38. I agree with the other posters… please provide a source for purchasing this magic elixr! Agree with whoever mentioned the bad reviews on Amazon. Thanks!

  39. Michelle says:

    I noticed you took 1 Tbsp twice daily – is there any difference between taking it twice daily versus taking 2 Tbsp once daily? Just curious. I’m hoping it’ll help with the Achilles issue I’ve been having.

    • Michelle, I’m not sure if there’s a difference between taking 1 Tbsp twice daily and 1 ounce (2 Tbsp) twice daily or not, but most of the science is based on the latter. I made a mistake in typing this post; the correct amount is 2 Tbsp, twice daily. Sorry for the confusion!

  40. Hi Matt
    I may try the cherry juice – I have been eating dried cherries in my oatmeal every morning for 5 years but I did not do the specific soreness testing that you did. Regarding your shoulder. One thing that has worked for me and my active friends is the Tempurpedic pillow. I promise i do not work for the company or have any affiliation but I was able to get rid of my shoulder pain by sleeping on this foam pillow. The density of it keeps you from sleeping heavy into your shoulder if you are a side sleeper. My friends and I are in our 50s and we still trail run 6 miles every other day and do High Intensity Interval training on several of the other days. Several of us had shoulder pain and the pillow did the trick! Thanks for your great research and articles. Keep up the good work.
    Lisa

  41. This is the brand I buy… Looks like Amazon sells it for less than $11 a bottle, which is cheaper than in stores in NYC.

    Dynamic Health Laboratories Organic Certified Tart Cherry Juice Concentrate
    http://amzn.com/B002OVMO5M

  42. One more thing: Lost of places sell “Tart Cherry Juice” but it’s only a wee bit of tart cherry and the rest is either apple juice or grape juice. Make sure what you buy is 100% tart cherry juice concentrate.

  43. Kristina Gillespie says:

    My mother eats cherries/drinks cherry juice for her gout, on her doctor’s recommendation, and I started drinking cherry juice after reading that it might help my plantar’s fasciitis. It didn’t help my feet, but like you, it cured the bursitis in my shoulder that had been very painful for about two years.

  44. Kristina Gillespie says:

    I am wondering if anyone has tried the cherry pills or chewables that are available at health food stores…do they work as well as the juice? I am concerned about calories (I am not an athlete who has lots of room to spare for calories each day!).

    • Peter G says:

      I’ve been trying some capsules since reading this, so far no real difference (I’ve only done one run during this period). My shoulder is a little better, but that may also be because I’ve given my swimming a rest since my 5 k event a month ago. I’ll update this if I get any updates.

      I figure for less than half the price of a massage, it’s worth trying for a month!

      • Interesting, I haven’t seen capsules. I wonder if their effectiveness is thought to be the same as the concentrate, juice, or whole cherries.

      • Peter- from my experience, the serving size in capsules is not even close to the concentrate and for athletes, the amount needed for us to take is much greater. So in a cost effective manner the juice concentrate is the best value. Also the capsules will have a more degraded form so you won’t be getting the most bioavailable kind.

        • Peter G says:

          Thank you for this Bob, I’ve found the Montmorency juice here (I’m in the UK) and will give it a try.

  45. Hello all! Tart cherry is known to break up gout crystals…. so I think it could totally break up calcification. I spent about 14 years as a master trainer and really wish I had this for my clients! Anyway, all of these injuries that people seem to be working through makes me cringe a bit. The whole “no pain no gain” deal does not apply to injury. If you are in chronic pain, you really should go see a doctor who specializes in that body part (if you can find one). Chronic inflammation – even with NSAIDS, will over time lead to a build up of scar tissue in that area (the body’s way of protecting the injury), which then leads to long term growth of bone spurs (the body’s way of compensating for the extra scar tissue), which is osteoarthritis. That is one (the most likely) scenario. For me, I have no cartilage in my knees anymore and barely any patella left on both knees, because I didn’t listen to my body when I was in my early 20s. Athletes are the hardest to get into a Dr, it’s so weird. Anyhow, my husband made me go in, and two laproscopic surgeries later, I barely have any pain (my right knee twinges a bit if I do too much street running), but I can run and do all of my regular activities like before those injuries started…. Then recently I twisted my ankle, and thought it was fine, worked through it… Turns out, I had a stress fracture! The point is- glad to hear the tart cherry juice is working (it is a good reminder that I need to get some more)- however, please listen to your body’s signals. You only get one! :-)

    • Sorry for the doom and gloom message…. On the happier side, my mother in law started using tart cherry juice, and her gout and osteoarthritis are both better. I found it helps when I start a new training program (to change things up a bit). I am not a huge fan of relying on something as a cure all though, and I think body signals are a healthy way of telling you what’s up. I didn’t know it about recovery after workouts! I am almost positive my electrolyte drink has it in it, which explains the lack of soreness.

  46. Citlalli says:

    How strong is the cherry flavor in the smoothie? This stuff sounds great but I hate the taste of cherries (my mom munched cherry-filled chocolates through her pregnancy with me, and I still find them too cloying 25 years later).

    I’m all for natural recovery, but really need to cover up the flavor.

    • Cilalli, two tablespoons of concentrate adds a pretty strong cherry flavor to the smoothie. You’d certainly want to use a frozen fruit besides cherries if you’re looking to mask the flavor of the concentrate.

  47. Matt, thank you for posting this (and all for your insights). I have had left leg pain for 3 months now that I am unable to self-diagnose. I haven’t run in a couple of weeks and it is still not any better which is unusual behavior when babying an injury. The pain moves around but the sharpest is behind my knees and will shift between left and right side. I’ll also have pain in shins, quads, and hamstring but not as bad. It’s weird. I’m training for Disney’s Dopey Challenge so this is really depressing me as I was on a roll in my training. I think there may be something to the Cherry concentrate experiment (I hope so!!), and the reason I think this is because I had right knee patella tendinitis and at the same time was scheduled for a hysterectomy from months of abdominal pain that gradually got worse (I’m 49). Well, a physical revealed a severe vitamin B12 deficiency and I had shots every week for 6 weeks. All symptoms disappeared. Like you Matt, I was amazed!! I didn’t expect this. This was in February and since then I take 10,000 mcgs SL of B12 a day and get a shot every month. I will not be surprised if the Cherry concentrate works for me. I have an ortho appointment July 31st that I hope I will end up cancelling like I did with the Gynocologist! Thank you Matt.

  48. This is a copy of my FB post regarding my experience this morning with tart cherry juice concentrate. “Well that was interesting! It’s becoming increasingly difficult to find tart cherry juice at Trader Joe’s as it is the antioxidant/anti-inflammatory du jour. Friday after reading a post by Matt Frazier of No Meath Athlete regarding his experience with tart cherry juice concentrate I picked some up and began the 1oz twice a day regime he used, previously I’d just have a glass of juice after my run home from work. After yesterdays race/walk clinic I fully expecting to hobble around for a couple of days and was more than a little surprised when I woke up this morning with not just decreased muscle soreness, but NO muscle soreness, not even a hint. In Matts blog post he says he was most surprised at the disappearance of some undiagnosed shoulder pain he’s had for a few months. Although I don’t know if his problem is the same as my calcific tendonitis, his symptoms sound the same. In addition to having no muscle soreness, my shoulder discomfort which is at it’s peak in the morning was hardly noticeable. The studies for tart cherry juice are very promising for everything from muscle soreness to arthritis, gout and insomnia. Thanks mother nature.”

    • Very cool! Thanks Kayna. I checked out the link you posted and sent me and I don’t think my shoulder issue is the same as yours, though I’m not positive. Glad the cherries have worked for you!

  49. Bridget says:

    Is this one of those things that you can build a tolerance to and you will need more and more cherry juice to get the same thing, or will 2 tbsp always be enough?

  50. Thanks for posting this update. I’ve been very curious about whether this works or not & you’ve convinced me to at least give it a try. I have regularly taken Rx strength Ibuprofen for years because of my back but it’s wreaking havoc on my stomach. I suffer from an esophageal disease that already causes me heartburn & gastro issues & ibuprofen makes it worse. If tart cherries can help with my muscle & swelling issues, then maybe this will save me further GI issues as well.

  51. I started the Cherry concentrate experiment Sunday night. It’s Wednesday morning and I have NO leg pain. I’m stunned. This is after 3 months of pain and no running for the last 3 weeks or so. I’m using “Michelle’s Miracle original tart Montmorency cherry concentrate (www.michellesmiracle.com), 2 TBSP twice a day in water. I found this at a local health food store(in Panama City, FL). The 16 fl oz bottle cost $30. My co-workers can’t believe I’m without pain and my husband is buying a bottle today. I don’t know if other variables come in to play though that might interfere with the positive effects of the concentrate -alcohol, eating processed food, etc…I think this is why Matt was asked to test this out (he’s an ideal test subject). I turned vegetarian in January, and I keep a pretty healthy diet. I’m Vegan during the week and eat some fish and eggs on the weekend. I avoid dairy as much as possible. I might have a max of 2 martinis on the weekend and I drink 1 or 2 cups of black coffee every day (having a hard time letting go of these vices, but coffee drinking way down due to healthy diet).

  52. Add me to the list of believers. I’ve been battling ITBS for several weeks, doing everything recommended … hips/glutes, foam rolling, ice, stretching, etc. After 7 days of drinking 2 8 oz. glasses of tart cherry, the pain in my outer knee has been gone for 2 days. Did 5 miles on Monday and then 8 miles of speed intervals last night, pain-free, glorious. Who knows if it will continue and who knows if it’s the cherries, but I’m riding this train until it stops! I’ve been drinking Knudsen’s Just Tart Cherry, available at Whole Foods. This first marathon might just now become a reality. Thanks Matt!

  53. I had been battling plantar fasciitis for 3 months. I did all the stretching, icing, rolling, wore the night splints every single day, but nothing seemed to work. I started taking tart cherry juice, and three days later the pain was completely GONE. I can’t prove it was the juice, but it’s the only thing I did differently. I’ll keep taking it since cherries aren’t too likely to hurt me. I had been taking a lot of ibuprofen – didn’t help, and it did rip my stomach up. So yes – I guess I believe.

    • Thanks Kim! Yeah, I’m in the same place you are … I can’t prove it’s the cherry concentrate, but it’s the only thing I changed (other than running harder for a week). That’s the problem with self-studies. Fortunately, the actual, large-sample science behind it seems to be there, so I don’t think we’re all imagining it. :)

  54. Hi Matt,

    As some commenters have noted, tart cherries also contain melatonin, which can be a sleep aid. Did you find that using the tart cherry concentrate in the morning made you sleepy? I usually run in the am in the summer and am a little wary of taking the concentrate and then trying to get through a boring work day :/

    Anyone else tried the concentrate in the morning?

    Thanks!

    • Hey Alissa, I didn’t notice anything related to sleep, other than that I thought I slept better because my shoulder didn’t wake me up. But I did read in a few places that they can help with sleep — not sure about drowsiness though.

    • Hi Alissa- Since I have taken montmorency cherry juice concentrate for the past couple years, but only at night, I wanted to test it out for a few days and take a serving after my morning workout as well as also before bed as I normally do. I typically take 1 shot glass full. I did it for the past 4 days and each day I was quite run down for the rest of the day. Today I did not take any yet (it is now almost 9pm) and have had a plethora of energy. I ran and did lunges this morning and just got back from doing several hill repeats on my road bike for 20 miles. I feel great. So I will be going back to solely taking it at night and not every during the day.

      • Thanks both for the responses!

        Hm I wonder if it just depends on the person? I just started using it and took 2 TBSP last night, and while I did feel sleepy I was pretty tired anyway. So only one data point so far. Might try Bob’s method and only use it at night or test it out on a weekend when I don’t have to do any work.

        Thanks again!

  55. I just started this regimen yesterday, so no results to report yet, but my boyfriend encountered the container in the fridge and used it to make a cocktail. He reports back that it is excellent mixed with Finlandia grapefruit flavored vodka, FYI

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