Tart cherry juice is often touted for its health perks. But if you're taking a blood thinner like warfarin, could drinking it do more harm than good?
Many people sip tart cherry juice for its anti-inflammatory benefits. According to a February 2019 Nutrients review, the juice may serve up heart-health benefits by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol. It's also been shown to be helpful for easing symptoms of insomnia, per one March 2019 American Journal of Therapeutics study, because it contains sleep-promoting compounds like melatonin and tryptophan.
Video of the Day
On the other hand? Tart cherry juice contains vitamin K, which plays a key role in forming blood clots. Blood thinners like warfarin, on the other hand, work to make blood clot more slowly. Consuming very high levels of vitamin K could make your blood-thinner med less effective, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
If you're wondering whether that makes tart cherry juice off-limits, read on.
If You're On Blood Thinners, Is Tart Cherry Juice OK?
Despite the fact that tart cherry juice contains vitamin K, it's not enough to interact with warfarin. In fact, you'll only get around 5 percent of your daily recommended vitamin K from 8 ounces of tart cherry juice, says Ashesh Parikh, DO, a cardiologist at Texas Health Plano and with Texas Health Physicians Group.
Even helping yourself to a second or third glass isn't thought to be problematic. "There are currently no studies that show any amount of tart cherry juice will cause any interaction with blood thinners," Dr. Parikh says.
While it's safe to drink tart cherry juice when taking blood thinners, you may need to pay attention to your intake of other foods high in vitamin K like leafy greens, parsley, broccoli and Brussels sprouts. Per the Cleveland Clinic, people on blood thinners should talk with their doctors to find the right balance of vitamin K and keep their intake relatively consistent from day to day.
And if you're wondering whether other compounds in tart cherry juice might cause a danger for blood thinners, such as quercetin (a potent antioxidant), the answer also appears to be no.
While Mount Sinai suggests quercetin supplements may have a possible interaction with blood thinners, enhancing their effect, quercetin from food has not been found to interact with warfarin, per an April 2017 study in Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy.
What About Tart Cherry Juice Supplements or Extracts?
That said, tart cherry extract or other supplements don't appear to interact negatively with blood thinning medications either, Dr. Parikh says.
Keep in mind, it's always a good idea to get the green light from your doctor before taking an herbal supplement, especially if you take a prescription medication.
Dietary supplements aren't tightly regulated, and it's possible a tart cherry supplement could contain additional ingredients that may interact with your blood thinner or another medication you're taking. It's also possible these interactions could cause adverse health effects, notes a July 2016 review in Annals of Medicine.
Supplements That Interact With Blood Thinners
Do Cherries or Cherry Juice Interact With Any Other Medications?
There is little to no evidence that suggests tart cherry juice interacts negatively with other medications. This means tart cherry juice and supplements are generally considered safe.
"Tart cherries primarily act via an anti-inflammatory mechanism — they have no known clinical drug interactions," Dr. Parikh says.
Talk to your doctor before trying any herbal supplement, especially if you are on a prescription medication like warfarin or another blood thinner.
It's OK to drink tart cherry juice if you're taking blood thinners, and tart cherry juice supplements and extracts are likely safe, too.
Still, it's a good idea to talk with your doctor about your overall vitamin K intake and get permission before taking any new herbal supplements.
"It's always important for patients to disclose all of the supplements they are taking so drug interactions can be checked," Dr. Parikh says.
- Nutrients: "Effects of Tart Cherry Juice on Biomarkers of Inflammation and Oxidative Stress in Older Adults"
- American Journal of Therapeutics: "Pilot Study of Tart Cherry Juice for the Treatment of Insomnia and Investigation of Mechanisms"
- Cleveland Clinic: "Why Vitamin K Can Be Dangerous If You Take Warfarin"
- Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy: "Interaction of quercetin and its metabolites with warfarin: Displacement of warfarin from serum albumin and inhibition of CYP2C9 enzyme"
- Annals of Medicine: "Herbal medications and other dietary supplements. A clinical review for physicians caring for older people"
- Mayo Clinic: "Herbal supplements and heart medicines may not mix"
- Texas Health Resources: "Ashesh Parikh, DO"
- Mount Sinai: "Quercetin"
- Cleveland Clinic: "Can Cherries Help You Get a Better Night's Sleep?"
Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.