Tart cherry concentrate is having a moment. I’ve been using this mouth-puckering goodness in many of my pediatric patients for the past year and a half. I have found it especially helpful in children with sensory disorders, autism, or the kid who just has a bit too much retained nervous energy. Locally, we use what we find in the stores, but I also recommend this one.

My previous blog on Sensory Disorder gives the picture of residual “sense allergens” that hang out in the body, mind, or soul as undigested “proteins” that can be triggers for a “sensory immune attack” and that can turn “anaphylactic” upon repeat exposure. Over time, these repeated exposures can cause a child to feel very stressed and put much stress on the child’s body as well. It seems that tart cherry concentrate can help to digest some of these residual allergens.

There are many reasons for a child to be living in a state of chronic stress. This “fight-or-flight” brain pattern functions as it’s own feedback loop once it’s fully engaged. Diet (sugars, dyes, gluten, dairy, other foods, glyphosates, oxalates, glutamate) can all contribute to a stressed-out child. After the usual trial of an organic GFDF (gluten free dairy free), consider looking into removing oxalates. Other things like gut dysbiosis, candida overgrowth, a build-up of metals in the body, conflict at home, stress at school add to the stress level. Also, many children specifically have difficulty digesting lectins and agglutinins (in beans, nuts, and grains) which leads to undigested food hanging out in the body, which may lead to a leaky gut and autoimmunity.

After you have looked into some root causes of your child’s stress, consider adding tart cherry concentrate to their regimen. Tart cherry concentrate has been shown to contain melatonin and it depends on the variety.  “Montmorency cherries (13.46 +/- 1.10 ng/g) contain approximately 6 times more melatonin than do Balaton cherries (2.06 +/- 0.17 ng/g). Neither the orchard of origin nor the time of harvest influenced the amount of melatonin in fresh cherries.” The tart cherry also contains Omega 3 and 6, a significant amount of vitamins A and C, plus vitamins K, B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B6, B9 (folate), and B12.

The melatonin in tart cherries has been shown to help people fall asleep more quickly and recover more quickly from strenuous exercise. It has even been shown to reduce cognitive impairments in Alzheimer’s disease. There is another study showing how melatonin causes an “increase in glutathione level, the activity of glutathione peroxidase as well as glutathione transferase in the examined organs,” as found in a NIH publication from 2006. With many of the mechanisms that lead to stress in the child (poor digestion, candida, metals), glutathione can help to boost the liver’s ability to handle the toxic load presented to it.

In addition, the tart cherry concentrate is a potent anti-inflammatory by inhibiting COX-1 activity, which is the same mechanism as ibuprofen. Many of the chronically stressed children have an element of chronic inflammation that fans the fire. Cooling it off a bit with tart cherry concentrate can take the edge off the stress so the child can start to function a little better.

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