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Tart Cherry Juice Decreases Symptoms of Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage

  • Authors: News Author: Laurie Barclay, MD
    CME Author: Désirée Lie, MD, MSEd
  • CME Released: 6/22/2006; Reviewed and Renewed: 6/22/2007
  • Valid for credit through: 6/22/2008
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Target Audience and Goal Statement

This article is intended for primary care clinicians, sports physicians, and other specialists who care for patients who exercise.

The goal of this activity is to provide medical news to primary care clinicians and other healthcare professionals in order to enhance patient care.

Upon completion of this activity, participants will be able to:

  • Describe the effects of cherry juice ingestion on strength loss and muscle pain after eccentric exercise in healthy men.
  • Describe the effect of cherry juice on range of elbow motion and muscle tenderness after eccentric exercise in healthy men.


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  • Laurie Barclay, MD

    Laurie Barclay is a freelance reviewer and writer for Medscape.


    Disclosure: Laurie Barclay, MD, has disclosed no relevant financial relationships.


  • Gary Vogin, MD

    Senior Medical Editor, Medscape


    Disclosure: Gary Vogin, MD, has disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

CME Author(s)

  • Désirée Lie, MD, MSEd

    Clinical Professor of Family Medicine; Director, Division of Faculty Development, University of California, Irvine School of Medicine, Irvine, California


    Disclosure: Désirée Lie, MD, MSEd, has disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

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Tart Cherry Juice Decreases Symptoms of Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage

Authors: News Author: Laurie Barclay, MD CME Author: Désirée Lie, MD, MSEdFaculty and Disclosures

CME Released: 6/22/2006; Reviewed and Renewed: 6/22/2007

Valid for credit through: 6/22/2008


June 22, 2006 -- Tart cherry juice decreases symptoms of exercise-induced muscle damage, according to the results of a randomized trial reported online in the June 21 Online First issue of the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

"Cyclo-oxygenase inhibitory flavonoids and anthocynanins with high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities have been identified in tart cherries, which are considered good sources of phenolic compounds," write D. A. J. Connolly, MD, from the University of Vermont in Burlington, and colleagues. "This has led to speculation that cherry consumption may be effective in alleviating symptoms in inflammatory conditions."

In this crossover-design study, 14 male college students drank 12 fl oz of a cherry juice blend or a placebo twice daily for 8 consecutive days. On the fourth day of supplementation, the students performed a bout of eccentric elbow flexion contractions (2620 maximum contractions), and isometric elbow flexion strength, pain, muscle tenderness, and relaxed elbow angle were recorded before and for 4 days after the eccentric exercise. Two weeks later, each subject repeated the protocol with the other beverage, using the opposite arm for the eccentric exercise.

Strength loss and pain were less with cherry juice than with placebo (time by treatment, strength P < .0001; pain, P = .017). Relaxed elbow angle and muscle tenderness were similar with both beverages.

"These data show efficacy for this cherry juice in decreasing some of the symptoms of exercise-induced muscle damage," the authors write. "Most notably, strength loss averaged over the four days after eccentric exercise was 22% with the placebo but only 4% with the cherry juice."

Study limitations include small sample size, tenderness measurement only made at 1 site.

"Although the results of this study indicate a protective effect of cherry juice, it is not possible to conclude that cherry juice supplementation prevented muscle damage, because only two of four indirect markers of damage showed an effect," the authors conclude. "These results have important practical applications for athletes, as performance after damaging exercise bouts is primarily affected by strength loss and pain. In addition to being an efficacious treatment for minimising symptoms of exercise induced muscle damage, consumption of cherry juice is much more convenient than many of the treatments that have been presented in the literature."

Cherrypharm Inc. funded this study. The authors have disclosed that each have 2.5% equity in Cherrypharm Inc.

Br J Sports Med. Posted online June 21, 2006.