Cherry Season: Fight Pain and Inflammation

by Dr. Leo Galland

Cherry Season: Fight Pain and Inflammation

Sometimes the latest research on nutrition involves a substance or supplement with an obscure name that only a scientist could get excited about.


But other times, there is something absolutely delicious that, it turns out, is also great for you.


Which brings us to cherries. (a delicious recipe below)


With cherry blossom season in the air, now is a great time to celebrate the beauty of nature and one of my favorite fruits, the cherry.


The delicious sweet and tart flavor of cherries is matched by remarkable health benefits. New research is emerging about cherry benefits, which you can discover here: Cherry Good News: More Benefits of Cherries.  


Cherries are a rich source of:


  • vitamin C
  • potassium
  • boron, a mineral that plays an essential role in bone health, especially for women.


Cherries Fight Inflammation


Cherries are important for their ability to control inflammation. A growing body of scientific research indicates that inflammation contributes to diseases such as heart disease, arthritis, and obesity.


Sweet or tart, cherries are a powerhouse of anti-inflammatory nutrients.


A study from University of California at Davis found that regular consumption of cherries for 28 days produced a decrease in biochemical signs of inflammation in blood, including a 25% reduction in C-reactive protein (CRP), the most widely studied marker of inflammation. Elevation of CRP in blood is associated with an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.


Discover more natural ways to fight inflammation in my article: Natural Anti- Inflammatory Foods and Supplements That Help Arthritis


Cherries Better Than Aspirin for Pain?


According to research done at Michigan State University the anthocyanins that make cherries red could also help relieve pain more effectively than aspirin. The study found that anthocyanins were potent antioxidants that could prevent oxidative damage and also inhibited enzymes called cyclooxygenase-1 and -2, (Cox 1 and 2) which is similar in the way anti- inflammatory drugs seek to reduce pain. The study appeared in the Journal of Natural Products published by the American Chemical Society. Learn about the risk of aspirin and stomach damage in Aspirin and Vitamin C


Lead researcher Muralee G. Nair, Ph.D., Professor at Michigan State University College of Agriculture & Natural Resources noted about this cherry effect "It is as good as ibuprofen and some of the nonsteriodal anti-inflammatory drugs." Nair said that his lab results indicate that consuming 20 tart cherries could provide anti- inflammatory benefits. Discover the pain and inflammation reducing potential of olive oil in Olive Oil or Advil.


Finding a natural way to reduce pain is important, given the serious side effects from common pain relievers called NSAIDs, examples of which include Advil, Motrin, Aleve and aspirin. Learn about these surprising side effects in my article Why Medication Can Be Dangerous to Your Health


Cherry Juice for Workout Recovery


A presentation at the American College of Sports Medicine Conference found that drinking tart cherry juice helped reduce pain after exercise for long distance runners. This research, from the Oregon Health & Science University, indicated that cherries could act like medications that runners use to reduce inflammation after workouts.


Publishing their findings in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, the researchers explain: “Considering the natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant capacity of tart cherries, it is plausible that cherry consumption before and during strenuous exercise may have a protective effect to reduce muscle damage and pain.” (Get free healthy updates in your inbox, sign up for our newsletter below.)


"For most runners, post-race treatment consists of RICE (rest, ice, compression and elevation) and traditional NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)," said Kerry Kuehl, M.D., a sports medicine physician and principal study investigator, who added: "But NSAIDS can have adverse effects – negative effects you may be able to avoid by using a natural, whole food alternative, like cherry juice, to reduce muscle inflammation before exercise."


Reducing pain in sports would be a great benefit, given the pain that some professional athletes go through, which you can learn more about in: Football and Painkillers


Cherries and Gout


Another study from the University of California at Davis found that a single dose of cherries reduced the blood level of uric acid in healthy women. Excess uric acid causes gout, a very painful type of arthritis. The use of cherries to prevent gout is well established in Western folk medicine.


You can enjoy the benefit of cherries all year round with unsweetened cherry juice, unsweetened cherry juice concentrate, or frozen organic pitted cherries, which make a delicious snack or dessert.


And don’t forget about incorporating anti-inflammatory foods like cherries into daily life. Here is a cherry recipe from my book, The Fat Resistance Diet, an anti-inflammatory program featuring foods that help cut inflammation.


Cinnamon Lemon Poached Pears with Cherry Syrup


  • 2 Ripe Pears
  • Juice of 1/2 Lemon
  • 1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1/8 Cup Chopped Almonds
  • 1 Cup of Water
  • 2 Sprigs of Mint
  • 1 Tablespoon Cherry Concentrate


Peel and core pears. Put pear, water, cherry concentrate, lemon juice and cinnamon in a saucepan. Cover and simmer for 7-10 minutes or until fork tender. With a slotted spoon remove and plate pears. Simmer liquid until syrup is reduced to desired consistency and spoon on pears. Top with chopped almonds and mint. Serves two.


I hope you enjoy the healthy pleasure of cherries this spring and the rest of the year. 

Get free recipes and more information at


Now I’d like to hear from you:

Do you suffer from pain or inflammation?

What symptoms do you experience?

Have you found anything that helps?

Please let me know your thoughts by posting a comment below.


Best Health,

Leo Galland, MD


Important: Celebrate Spring with your friends and family by forwarding this article to them, and sharing on Facebook.



Journal of Natural Products published by the American Chemical Society.


Kuehl KS, Chestnutt J, Elliot DL, Lilley C. Efficacy of tart cherry juice in reducing muscle pain after strenuous exercise. American College of Sports Medicine. 851. May, 2009.


Kerry S Kuehl, Erica T Perrier, Diane L Elliot, and James C Chesnutt, “Efficacy of tart cherry juice in reducing muscle pain during running: a randomized controlled trial”


J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2010; 7: 17. Published online 2010 May 7. doi: 10.1186/1550-2783-7-17.

BioMed Central Ltd.


Recipe by Jonathan Galland from The Fat Resistance Diet, © 2005 Leo Galland, M.D., Reprinted by permission of the author.


6 thoughts on “Cherry Season: Fight Pain and Inflammation

  1. Linda K

    I ws diagnosed with fibromyalgia 17 years ago. I chose to not go the heavy prescription drug route as I did not see anyone get better. I have done a lot of supplementation like magnesium, multivitamins, calcium, etc.

    3.5 years ago I figured out I was intolerant of gluten (non-gut issues) and have Hashimotos thyroid disease. Then Pos tests for RA and saliva testing showed severee adrenal fatigue. With that began an even deeper exploration of which foods caused pain and which didn’t. I have found if I also stay away from soy and dairy (and now maybe, corn)my level of joint swelling and tenderness decreases by at least 75%. My muscle tightness also is diminished. I think my fibro diagnosis was actually hidden celiac disease with thyroid involvement leading to other organs being affected.

    A year ago I started a prescription of 4.5 mg of low dose naltrexone and that made a huge difference in terms of mental clarity, increased energy and overall feeling of well being.

    4 months ago I was diagnosed with mucoidepidermoid salivary gland cancer. I had three saliva glands removed at Mayo Medicial. It appears as though I have a 95.1% outlook for complete recovery.

    I have been taking tart cherry juice occasionally for a year. And increased my ginger and tumeric, plus starting to read and follow the advice in the book, AntiCancer: A New Way of Life.

    I just found this website. Thank you.
    Linda Kirchmaier

  2. Mary White

    Since March 2001,I have suffered from severe perepheryl neuropathy in my feet, legs & hands. This year, it went inward to the stomach…gastroparesis…all of this stemming from diabetis melitus II. The Dr. has me on 10 mg methadone, six times a day & 75mg of lyrica, 3 times a day. This just takes the edge off the horrific pain. I am 64 years old. The inability to use the feet, hands & legs are getting worse & worse. Is there any evidence that cherry juice would help nerve damage pain?
    Thank You,
    Mary White

  3. Marie Buglione

    I love the site. I have been trying to find a doctor who will treat with natural remedies instead of drugs. Food is the perfect healer, or if you eat the wrong foods the culprit. I would like to know how to locate a doctor in my area, which is Northern New Jersey.

    Keep the info flowing, it is just great. We can live healthier and happier with the proper diet and knowing what “helps” and what
    “hurts”. Thanks for the site. Marie Buglione

  4. Pingback: Olive Oil: A Natural Painkiller? - Organic Connections

  5. Robert Mosteller

    I suffer from pain in my left hip, where it is so debilitating that it hurts to get up and walk the first step. Also, I have pain in my elbows and knee joints….it gets to the point to where I don’t even want to live. Given the fact I am 56, but I never knew that it would be this hard this soon in my life…will drinking tart cherry juice help me alleviate the pain to where I can move free without pain and enjoy doing things I used to do? What about diabetics…will it help them with diabetic neuropathy pain?

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