Cherry Juice: Doing A Body Good

In my world, feeling great, even good, is hard to come by.  If I’m not in pain, I’m tired.  If I’m not tired, my digestion or some other bodily function is throwing a fit.  Or I am dizzy, weak, or feeling a bit blue.   It all has a way of interfering with life.

And I want to enjoy this life.  So I tend to be pretty motivated to find the things that help me feel better.

I am very mindful of all the goings on with my body.  And almost daily I read and surf the web,  always looking for that special trick that will fix me.  I am probably dreaming.  But I can’t help but think there is a magic answer.  As if some harmful little bug made its way inside me all those years ago, and all I need is something right under my nose, or on the shelf at the grocery store.

Something simple to be well.

In my quest, what I have noticed is how there is always the “in” thing.  The new cool, miracle  drink, and the latest super food.  Or the hip new exercise gadget or cleansing ritual.  And it seems that every once in a while, a new fruit or vegetable juice is all the rage.  In recent years we have heard a lot about açaí, pomegranate, even dragonfruit.  Açaí is wonderful, and pomegranate quite delicious (okay, I’m not so sure about dragonfruit).  And lately I have been hearing a lot about tart cherry juice and its benefits.

Reading my April issue of Health magazine, an enticing headline caught my eye:  Scientists report tart cherry juice is our new best friend. This brief but super informative piece really caught my eye.  It went on to say how just one glass of cherry juice can lead to more restful sleep.

How does it do this?  Just like oats and some other healthy foods, tart cherries are loaded with natural melatonin, the hormone that regulates our circadian rhythms, the rhythms that lead to quality sleep.   I remember my mom eating dried cherries when we used to travel and cross a lot of time zones, she always wanted me to do the same.   It helped us when adjusting to a new time in a different part of the world.

But all that wonderful melatonin is more concentrated when tart cherries come in the form of a glass.  We would have to eat a lot of cherries to achieve the same melatonin levels that can be found in an 8 ounce glass of dark, delicious juice.

Health sources also go on to say that drinking tart cherry juice prior to a workout can aid in muscle recovery and reducing pain from over exertion.   And there are other good and healthy reasons.   It is loaded with cancer fighting anti-oxidants.  And being an alkaline fruit, it fights dangerous acid levels in our tissues,  helping to reduce disease-causing inflammation in the body.

Sleep is elusive for me.   Husband has been traveling a lot for work, and knowing he’s far away makes it difficult for me to settle down at night.   I have been in a lot of pain, too.   And then the dogs drive me crazy, getting on and off the bed into the wee hours, because they are bored or they want to play.  I don’t have the heart to shut them out of the room.   Besides, if I did they would just scratch the door and bark anyway.

Either way, no sleep for me.   For the past month I have started every single day with a pounding head, aching body, and bad attitude.

After weeks of this routine I was about to lose my already fragile mind.  Poor sleep is the worst thing for us fibromyalgia folks.  It amplifies our already high pain levels and all other symptoms, such as difficult digestion, sensory issues, poor concentration, hair loss, coordination problems and edema (just to name very few on a very long list.)   And all it takes is one night without our precious zzzz’s to bring it on.   When I read about the power of cherry juice, I was interested.  How easy!  Drink juice, sleep peacefully, and bounce out of bed in the morning feeling rested and healthy!  I was so happy I could cry.  I prayed it would work.

I visited my local health food store and found several brands to choose from.   I read the labels carefully, making sure I was buying tart cherry juice.  It is very much on the pricey side, which I expected.  A small jar with about four servings cost me $6.50, and most health sources suggest two servings a day for optimum benefits.  In other words, $6.50 for juice every two days if I am going to follow this regimen to the letter.

I look at it this way.  I could spend hundreds for a thirty-day supply of some pain drug my insurance company doesn’t want to cover.  Or I can spend $50-100 a month on healthy and delicious juice that makes me feel good without crappy side effects.  Cherry juice won’t leave me feeling groggy and drugged all day.  It won’t make me dizzy or make me feel thirsty all the time.  And it won’t make my hair fall out more than it already does.

I had my first glass, and almost immediately I felt good.  Warm and calm.  Just the feeling I want to have before I lay down to go to sleep at night.  Like a nice glass of wine without the compromising effects of alcohol.  And if I was going to sleep I wanted to stay asleep.  Wine has a way of making you crash and waking you up a few hours later without giving you that deep sleep you need.

On night one, I fell asleep quickly and slept a solid seven hours without waking up.  I also woke up with significantly reduced body pain and a much clearer head.  I was thrilled, and excited to think that the simple act of drinking juice could be so helpful.  I continued this experiment for five days, drinking one 8 ounce glass in the morning and another one hour before bed.  I continued to sleep consistently and experience reduced morning pain.  I also felt a very foreign sense of calm throughout the day, and it was wonderful.

I wasn’t completely pain-free.  But moving my body with less discomfort was like a miracle to me.  And feeling so much better from the neck up, I felt like a normal person for the first time in a long time.

I know I won’t buy it all the time.  Maybe some weeks I will buy only one bottle and drink it selectively when I feel I need some extra help at bedtime.  Or if I have a stressful day, or if I do too much, I will drink a glass in the daytime hours to reduce my stress and help head off my fibromyalgia symptoms.

I have a new daytime ritual.  I like to sit out by the pool,  enjoying my cherry juice mixed with a tall glass of plain, sparkling mineral water, like Pellegrino.   Even diluted, I still feel the calming effects, like I am doing something wonderful for my body.  Hydrating, light, yummy and relaxing on a hot summer day.  It really doesn’t take much to make me happy these days.  And I suppose this is a good thing.

I would give anything to return to the former me.  On top of the world.  When pain and illness did not dominate my every waking moment.  But I have lived with my new normal for nearly fifteen years now.  I accept what is.  And I am happy to have found something that will help me live with less discomfort.  Adding it to my regimen of sound, healthy choices, I have a chance at a happier outlook.  It obviously isn’t a cure.  But it is helping tremendously.

So simple and delicious.

Who knew?

And as it turns out, cherries are quite fashionable, too.



For more information on the healing benefits of tart cherry juice, visit:

For more information on how tart cherry juice helps in achieving quality sleep, visit:

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