The healing power of sour cherry

The sour cherry tree is closely related to the normal cherry tree, but the fruits of this tree are, as the name indicates, a lot more sour in taste. A sour cherry tree can grow to a height of four to ten meters and is cultivated throughout the Northern Hemisphere. It can withstand very cold conditions, the tree is also grown in Finland and can grow at an altitude of 1600 meters in the Alps. Sour cherry appears to be a hybrid that arose naturally. Its exact origin is not known because it has been cultivated since time immemorial. The tree was also known in ancient times. This was already a popular tree in ancient Greece, among the ancient Romans and Persians. In addition to being a nutritious tree, the sour cherry has medicinal properties. Instead of the fruit itself, the stems are used in phytotherapy. These stems are good for the kidneys, stimulate urine production and are an effective remedy for bladder infections. NB! This article is written from the personal view of the author and may contain information that is not scientifically substantiated and/or in line with the general view.

Botanical drawing sour cherry / Source: Public domain, Wikimedia Commons (PD)


  • Traditional use
  • Save the stems!
  • Naming
  • Active substances
  • Sour cherry stems, good for the kidneys
  • The sour cherry for sleep problems
  • Dose and safety
  • Visit a doctor or herbal therapist

Traditional use

Sour cherry is used in cakes, pies, syrups, sauces, soups and desserts. In addition, it is used to enhance the not very pleasant alcoholic drink taste. For example, it is used to make kirsch and fruit beer such as kriek lambic. In Hungary, a sour cherry soup is traditionally made. The ingredients of this are sour cherries, sour cream and sugar. The cherries are processed into a puree, and then warmed and mixed together with sour cream and sugar. Sometimes cloves or cinnamon are added to the soup. The soup can be eaten beforehand to promote digestion or afterwards to ‘fill the holes’.

Save the stems!

Prunus cerasus / Source: Prazak, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA-3.0)

Sour cherries themselves are healthy, but the cherry stems are considered a herbal medicine. If you have a sour cherry tree in the garden and you want to use the phytotherapeutic work; do not throw away the stems. You can dry these for later use, or you can use them fresh.


In Latin sour cherry is called Prunus cerasus . Cerasus comes from an ancient Greek name. In ancient Greece and modern-day Turkey there is a city called Girasus. The first cherries were exported from this city to the rest of Europe. In French this fruit is called cerise. This name is close to the original Greek name, which is called cerasus in Latin. The Dutch kers, the German Kirsch and the English word Cherry also stem from the original Latin word. Prunus is a word that actually means ‘plum’. In the past, people said ‘cherry plum’ instead of cherry. That word is still used in Afrikaans, sister language of Dutch.

Active substances

The cherry stems of sour cherry are used for phytotherapeutic purposes. These cherry stems contain the following active substances: prunetin, the isoflavone glycoside 5-O-beta-D-glucipyranosides, mucilages and tannins.

Sour cherry stems, good for the kidneys

The stalks of sour cherry have diuretic activity. This means that the body expels more fluid. In addition, there is a sedative or calming effect on the mucous membranes of the urinary tract. Due to these medicinal properties, sour cherry is prescribed by naturopaths and herbalists for the following indications:

  • Edema,
  • Inadequate kidney function,
  • flowers of the prunus cerasus / Source: Karelj, Wikimedia Commons (Public domain)

Inadequate urine production,

  • Hyperuricemia or increased uric acid levels,
  • Rheumatic conditions,
  • To prevent urolithiasis or kidney stones,
  • Adjuvant for kidney inflammation,
  • Adjuvant for bladder infections.

According to some doctors, the cherry stems have a laxative effect. As a result, it can help with constipation.

The sour cherry for sleep problems

A study from Northumbria University in Newcastle published in 2012 found that tart cherry juice boosts melatonin levels in humans. This makes it easier to sleep. In the small-scale study, 20 people were given a pill with melatonin from sour cherry or a placebo and it turned out that the sour cherry users slept a lot better. Melatonin is a phytonutrient that occurs naturally in tart cherry and is also available in synthetic form as a supplement.

Dose and safety

There are a number of ways to use cherry stems as a herbal medicine.

  • Decoction: Steep a handful of cherry stems in a liter of cold water for 12 hours and then boil for 10 minutes. Drink half a liter of this per day.
  • Three times a day a decoction of 6 grams of cherry stems in 200 ml of water after the stems have steeped in cold (macerated) for two hours.
  • Two to three grams of cherry stem extract per day.

Cherry stems are a completely safe natural medicine.

Visit a doctor or herbal therapist

Much of the information about the medicinal plant mentioned in this article comes from the book Groot Handboek Medicinal Plants by Geert Verhelst. That is a handbook in phytotherapy. However, it is not suitable for self-healing. Anyone who suffers from something should consult a doctor or herbal therapist for a good diagnosis and choice of the best remedies, tailored to your personal situation. The knowledge and science mentioned here is of a purely informative nature.