Cherries (Prunus avium, P. cerasus) are members of the Rosaceae (Rose) Family, and relatives of apples and strawberries. The species name, avium means "for the birds". Cherries are native to Eurasia. In ancient Greece, cherries were recommended in treating epilepsy. In the 1920's, American doctors suggested black cherries for kidney stones and gall bladder ailments and the red cherries for mucous conditions.
Cherries are considered alkaline, warm, and sweet. They make an excellent detoxifying food, helping the body eliminate uric acid, cleanse the kidneys, move blood stagnation and impart a rosy glow to the complexion. Cherries are circulatory stimulants, laxative, tonic for the stomach and spleen and stimulant. Cherries have been used throughout history in treating anemia, arthritis, asthma, catarrh, cavity prevention, constipation, cramps, fatigue, gall stones, gout, high blood pressure, hypochondria, kidney stones, lumbago, measles, numbness, obesity, rheumatism, stunted growth, paralysis and frequent urination.
Cherries are rich in beta-carotene, vitamin B1, C, calcium, copper, iron, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, silicon, flavonoids and the fiber, pectin. The darker cherries are even more mineral rich. Cherries also contain the anti-cancer compound, ellagic acid.
At Forsyth Dental Center a study was done that showed black cherry juice blocked 89% of the enzyme activity the would lead to plaque formation.
Cherries are one of the most chemically contaminated fruits, hence it is always best to buy organic whenever possible. Select cherries with fresh green stems with full colored plump glossy skinned cherries. Avoid those soft, leaking, brown or moldy.
The seed of cherries is considered neutral, bitter and as an aid to neutralize toxins. The stems are a diuretic. A tea made from the bark is used in treating coughs. Dried cherries are a way to enjoy cherries year round.
Cherries are enjoyed plain, in fruit salads, pies, jams, puddings, smoothies and juices. Avoid in cases of excess heat, as in the orient are known as "fruit of fire."