Tart Cherries and Melatonin Research

© 2009 Beverly Nadler

Here’s some of the latest research on the amazing health benefits of Montmorency Tart Cherries. If Research interests you, you’ll love this page.

The only product I recommend to supply melatonin is Cherry Juice Concentrate by Immunotec®  It is VERY RICH in melatonin, and easily assimilated by your body.

Research Indicates Melatonin Slows Breast Cancer

In July 2003, David E. Blask, MD, PhD, of Bassett Research Institute in Cooperstown, N.Y., reported that melatonin puts breast cancer cells to sleep and also slows breast cancer growth by 70%. His findings were presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research and immediately reported in WebMD Medical News.
The hormone seeps from the pea-sized pineal gland in your brain when the lights go out at night. It's the reason you get sleepy when it's dark. Blask and colleagues found that melatonin also puts cancer cells to sleep.  Breast cancers get revved up by a kind of dietary fat called linoleic acid. Melatonin interacts with linoleic acid, so Dr. Blask gave melatonin to mice implanted with human breast cancers. "This breast cancer rev-up mechanism gets revved down by melatonin," he said at a news conference. "Nighttime melatonin is a relevant anticancer signal to human breast cancers. Ninety percent of human breast cancers have specific receptors for this signal."
Blask's team exposed lab mice with human breast cancers to constant light. Tumor growth skyrocketed. "With constant light, tumors grow seven times faster and soak up incredible amounts of linoleic acid," he says. "During the day, the cancer cells are awake and linoleic acid stimulates their growth. But at night cancer cells go to sleep. When we turn on lights at night for a long time, we suppress melatonin and revert back to the daytime condition."  These findings may explain why nurses who often work the night shift have high rates of breast and colon cancer.
In the same article, Arizona Cancer Center researcher David Alberts, MD, notes that ther is a lot of interest in melatonin as a sleep inducer, but he worries about the safety of over-the-counter melatonin supplements.   (Note:  There are NO safety concerns when you take Cherry Juice Concentrate by Immunotec® )

  More Research Confirms Tart Cherries Inhibit Tumor Development

Michigan State University (MSU) was the first to identify anthocyanins in tart cherries. Anthocyanins are plant pigments responsible for the bright red color of cherries. These pigments are known to have antioxidant activity that fights free radical damage. Dr. Mauraleedharan Nair and Dr. Leslie Bourguin, along with several graduate students, worked on experiments that are part of ongoing research on the components of tart cherries.

According to new studies at MSU that were published in Cancer Letters, tart cherries may reduce the risk of colon cancer because of the anthocyanins and cyanidin they contain. And according to Raymond Holm, M.D. at the University of Iowa, tart cherries contain perillyl alcohol (POH), a natural compound that is extremely powerful in reducing the incidence of all types of cancer. Perillyl alcohol "shuts down the growth of cancer cells by depriving them of the proteins they need to grow," explains Dr. Hohl. "It works on every kind of cancer we've tested it against."

Researchers at Brunswick Laboratories (Wareham, Mass.) verified the natural antioxidants present in tart Montmorency cherries, the leading U.S. tart cherry variety, and said they will soon be available for use in products. (NOTE:  its available NOW, in  Cherry Juice Concentrate by Immunotec ®.)

Lead researcher at Brunswick Laboratories, Dr. Boxin Ou, also confirmed the presence of substantial quantities of melatonin, and identified two important flavonoids, isoqueritrin and queritrin, in tart cherries. These flavonoids act as antioxidants, as do the anthocyanins. They work to eliminate by-products of oxidative stress – which means they SLOW DOWN the aging process. Dr. Ou also documented the presence of ellagic acid in cherries. Ellagic acid is a naturally-occuring plant phenolic that is known as a potent anti-carcinogenic/ inmutagenic compound (meaning it suppresses cancer and stimulates the immune system).

Clinical tests conducted at the Hollings Cancer Institute at the Medical University of South Carolina show that ellagic acid may be the most potent way to prevent cancer. There is much research to indicate that melatonin may inhibit the growth of cancer cells and arrest the growth of cancer in subjects with a genetic predisposition for the disease.  This is great news for people whose family history includes cancer!

Tart Cherries Boost Insulin Production

Another study out of Michigan State University that adds another benefit to the list.  Recent research indicates that the compounds in tart cherries also show promise for both the prevention of type 2 diabetes and for helping to control blood glucose levels in people who already have the disease.

Anti-Inflammatory Activity of Melatonin and Tart Cherries

MSU was the first to identify the anti-inflammatory properties of anthocyanins in tart cherries.Scientists have confirmed that free radical damage, caused by environmental hazards as well as metabolic processes in the body (such as the by-product of exercise and stress) increases the risk of many degenerative diseases. What is not commonly known is that inflammation, which the body produces in order to protect itself from outside invasion, also produces free radicals, especially when the inflammation continues unchecked for any length of time. 

Anthocyanins 1 and 2 inhibit the cyclooxygenase (COX) enzymes that are associated with the pain of arthritis and gout. In comparing 10 small fruits, cherries had the highest level of anthocyanins 1 and 2.  (NOTE: These are NOT present in blueberries or cranberries.) According to Dr. Nair, "Twenty tart cherries provide 25 mg of anthocyanins, which help shut down the enzymes that cause tissue inflammation in the first place, so cherries can prevent and treat many kinds of pain".
Both the anthocyanins and flavonoids contained in tart cherries have an activity similar to aspirin, naproxen, and ibuprofen and prevent inflammation in the body. Anthocyanins may also protect artery walls from the damage that leads to plaque buildup and heart disease. Recent studies show anthocyanins do a better job of protecting arteries than vitamins C and E.

The Chaim Sheba Medical Center, Tel-Aviv University, Israel, is using melatonin to successfully treat hypertension in patients with nocturnal high blood pressure. Keep in mind that melatonin research is in the very early stages. No doubt there will continue to be many new and exciting discoveries about the benefits of this amazing hormone.
Do you need any other reasons to add Immunotec’s® “Cherry Concentrate” to your daily diet? (The fact that it tastes like tart “cherry pie” is just a bonus.)

Click here to read ”Marvelous Health Breakthrough of Tart Montmorency Cherries and Melatonin”

Click here to read about Cherry Concentrate on the Immunotec® site.

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Beverly Nadler beverly@breakthroughhealth.net - 203-373-1943
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