Tart Cherries: A Safe, Natural Sleep Aid With Over 20 Potential Side Benefits

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Could a tart cherry juice from the produce aisle safely rival costly sleep aids that have the potential for life-threatening side effects? This new placebo-controlled trial suggests the affirmative. 

In this seminal randomized pilot evaluation of 8 older adults with chronic insomnia, just two 8 ounce servings of tart cherry juice daily increased objective total sleep time by 84 minutes versus placebo juice (p=0.018). [1] Cherry juice also improved subjective sleep quality ratings like sleep efficiency. Researchers posit cherry juice reverses inflammation impeding tryptophan conversion into melatonin. [1]


In addition, tart cherry juice holds over 20 potential side benefits for other conditions like osteoarthritis, exercise recovery, metabolic syndrome and antioxidant protection. [2] Tart cherries contain a unique combination of melatonin and anthocyanin polyphenols that reduce pain, joint inflammation and muscle damage while optimizing lipid profiles, insulin sensitivity and endothelial function. [2,3]



These landmark sleep findings set tart cherry juice squarely within integrative medicine’s expanding arsenal of gentle, evidence-based insomnia aids lacking side effects. Over-the-counter antihistamines impart substantial next day drowsiness while frequently abused prescription sedatives like zolpidem (Ambien) carry FDA black-box addiction and overdose warnings. [4] Indeed, emergency department visits from zolpidem quadrupled from 8,000 to 33,000 annually amid the 21st century’s escalating epidemic of precipitous medication-enabled deaths. [5]


That sleep remedies like chamomile tea or tart cherries enjoy notable safety profiles only strengthens the appropriateness of conservative prescribing principles for pharmacological options. As non-habit forming dietary modifications, botanical blends and targeted nutrient supplementation continue demonstrating effectiveness and favorable risk-benefit ratios for sleep and beyond, policies must shift towards lifestyle improvements first, reserving riskier drugs only for emergency or acute-care situations. Now that measurable biomarkers and objective clinical science show tart cherry juice directly improves insomnia, the produce section remedy appears highly appropriate as a frontline consideration rather than mere “alternative." After all, above all else, effective sleep therapeutics must do no harm.



To find more evidence-based, natural approaches to insomnia, visit our database on the subject here




1. Losso JN et al. Am J Ther. 2018.  

2. https://greenmedinfo.com/substance/tart-cherry  

3. Kelley DS et al. J Agric Food Chem. 2006.    

4. FDA Safety Announcement. 2013. Accessed: 23 Jan 2023.   

5. Sheth HS. Curr Opin Pulm Med. 2016.

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