Table of Contents > Herbs & Supplements > Cherry (Prunus africana, Prunus emarginata, Prunus serotina) Print

Cherry (Prunus africana, Prunus emarginata, Prunus serotina)


Also listed as: Prunus africana, Prunus emarginata, Prunus serotina
Related terms

Related Terms
  • African cherry, anthocyanins, antioxidants, Balaton tart cherry, Bet v1, bing sweet cherries, cherry bezoar, cherry-brandy, cherry extract, cherry jam, cherry juice, cherry pip bezoars, cherry pit, cherry stalk, cherry stone, cherry wood, choke cherries, choke-cherry, cyanide, cyanidin, makore, nitrates, nitrites, phenolic compounds, polyphenolic compounds, Pru av 1, Pru av 2, Pru av 3, Pru av 4, Prunoideae (sub-family), Prunus africana, Prunus avium, Prunus cerasus, Prunus emarginata, Prunus padus, Prunus serotina, Rosaceae (family), rPru av 1, rPru av 3, rPru av 4, sour cherry, sweet cherries, tart cherries, tart cherry, wild cherry, wild cherry bark, wild cherry bark extract, wild cherry bezoar, wild cherry extract.
  • Note: This monograph does not include Indian cherry (Withania somnifera), Barbados cherry (Malpighia glabra), or the Finger cherry tree (Rhodomyrtus macrocarpa).

  • Cherries have been used as both food and medicine. African cherry (Prunus africana) has been used to treat enlarged prostate and other disorders. Cherries contain polyphenols, which may have antioxidant, anticancer, and anti-inflammatory properties. However, there is limited scientific evidence to support these uses.
  • Early study suggests that cherry may be able to relieve exercise-induced muscle damage, but larger studies are needed before a strong recommendation can be made.
  • Cherries appear to be highly allergenic. There are many reports of sensitivity to cherries and cross-reactivity with other plants. People who are allergic to birch pollen may also be sensitive to cherries.

Evidence Table

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. GRADE *

Early study suggests that cherry juice may prevent damage to muscles caused by exercise. More evidence is needed.

* Key to grades

A: Strong scientific evidence for this use
B: Good scientific evidence for this use
C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use
D: Fair scientific evidence for this use (it may not work)
F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likley does not work)

Tradition / Theory

The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.

  • Age-related nerve damage, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, bladder cancer, breathing problems, cancer, colds, colon cancer, degenerative diseases, fever, flavoring, gout, gynecological disorders, heart disease, malnutrition, prostate enlargement, sore throat.


Adults (18 years and older)

  • There is no proven effective dose for cherry. Twelve fluid ounces of a tart cherry juice blend has been used twice daily for eight days.

Children (under 18 years old)

  • There is no proven safe and effective dose for cherry in children.


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.


  • Avoid in individuals with a known allergy or sensitivity to cherry, birch pollens, apples, grapes, plums, peaches, apricots, soy, peanuts, or mungbeans. Allergic reactions may range from skin rash to anaphylaxis.

Side Effects and Warnings

  • Cherry may alter the absorption of oral drugs, herbs, or supplements. Cherry may stimulate gastrointestinal function in patients following peptic ulcer surgery. Consuming cherry pits or other parts of the cherry plant may cause pain and gastrointestinal problems.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

  • Cherry is not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women due to a lack of available scientific evidence.


Interactions with Drugs

  • Cherry consumption may alter the absorption of drugs taken by mouth. Cherries may add to the effects of anti-inflammatory, anticancer, and gastrointestinal drugs.

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

  • Cherry consumption may alter the absorption of herbs and supplements taken by mouth. Cherries may add to the effects of anti-inflammatory, anticancer, gastrointestinal, and antioxidant herbs and supplements.

  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (

  1. Alexander P, Walters A, Verghese G. Cherry pip bezoars causing acute small intestinal obstruction presenting as diabetic ketoacidosis. Indian J Gastroenterol. 2005;24(6):273-274.
  2. Connolly DA, McHugh MP, Padilla-Zakour OI, et al. Efficacy of a tart cherry juice blend in preventing the symptoms of muscle damage. Br J Sports Med. 2006;40(8):679-683.
  3. Fuchs HC, Bohle B, Dall'Antonia Y, et al. Natural and recombinant molecules of the cherry allergen Pru av 2 show diverse structural and B cell characteristics but similar T cell reactivity. Clin Exp Allergy. 2006;36(3):359-368.
  4. Jacob RA, Spinozzi GM, Simon VA, et al. Consumption of cherries lowers plasma urate in healthy women. J Nutr. 2003;133(6):1826-1829.
  5. Jahn-Schmid B, Radakovics A, Luttkopf D, et al. Bet v 1142-156 is the dominant T-cell epitope of the major birch pollen allergen and important for cross-reactivity with Bet v 1-related food allergens. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2005;116(1):213-219.
  6. Kang SY, Seeram NP, Nair MG, et al. Tart cherry anthocyanins inhibit tumor development in Apc(Min) mice and reduce proliferation of human colon cancer cells. Cancer Lett. 2003;194(1):13-19.
  7. Kelley DS, Rasooly R, Jacob RA, et al. Consumption of Bing sweet cherries lowers circulating concentrations of inflammation markers in healthy men and women. J Nutr. 2006;136(4):981-986.
  8. Mittermair RP, Gruber H, Kafka-Ritsch R. Cherry pit ingestion leading to diagnosis of colon carcinoma. Am J Surg. 2004;188(2):185.
  9. Pastorello EA, Farioli L, Pravettoni V, et al. Identification of grape and wine allergens as an endochitinase 4, a lipid-transfer protein, and a thaumatin. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2003;111(2):350-359.
  10. Reddy MK, Alexander-Lindo RL, Nair MG. Relative inhibition of lipid peroxidation, cyclooxygenase enzymes, and human tumor cell proliferation by natural food colors. J Agric Food Chem. 11-16-2005;53(23):9268-9273.
  11. Reuter A, Lidholm J, Andersson K, et al. A critical assessment of allergen component-based in vitro diagnosis in cherry allergy across Europe. Clin Exp Allergy 2006;36(6):815-823.
  12. Schehl B, Lachenmeier D, Senn T, et al. Effect of the stone content on the quality of plum and cherry spirits produced from mash fermentations with commercial and laboratory yeast strains. J Agric Food Chem. 2005;53(21):8230-8238.
  13. Scheurer S, Lauer I, Foetisch K, et al. Strong allergenicity of Pru av 3, the lipid transfer protein from cherry, is related to high stability against thermal processing and digestion. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2004;114(4):900-907.
  14. Stewart KM. The African cherry (Prunus africana): can lessons be learned from an over-exploited medicinal tree? J Ethnopharmacol. 2003;89(1):3-13.
  15. Yamaguchi K, Liggett JL, Kim NC, et al. Anti-proliferative effect of horehound leaf and wild cherry bark extracts on human colorectal cancer cells. Oncol Rep. 2006;15(1):275-281.

Copyright © 2011 Natural Standard (

The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.

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