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Updated 18 February 2013

Acai (Euterpe oleracea)

The acai palm tree (Euterpe oleracea) is native to tropical Central and South America and grows mainly in floodplains and swamps. Although the soft interior stem can be used as a source for heart of palm, acai is better known for its reddish-purple fruit. Acai has been a traditional food of the native people of the Amazon for hundreds of years. Acai beverages are prepared by extracting juice from the fruit pulp and skin.

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BACKGROUND

The acai palm tree (Euterpe oleracea) is native to tropical Central and South America and grows mainly in floodplains and swamps. Although the soft interior stem can be used as a source for heart of palm, acai is better known for its reddish-purple fruit. Acai has been a traditional food of the native people of the Amazon for hundreds of years. Acai beverages are prepared by extracting juice from the fruit pulp and skin.

In recent times, research on acai fruit has been centered on its potential antioxidant properties. Acai fruit has also shown anticancer and anti-inflammatory activity. Acai may also show promise as a contrast agent for use in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), a non-invasive procedure that produces three-dimensional views of internal organs or structures. Currently, there is insufficient available evidence in humans to support the use of acai for any condition.

EVIDENCE TABLE

Conditions

Uses
disclaimer: These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Grade*

*Key to grades: A: Strong scientific evidence for this use; B: Good scientific evidence for this use; C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use; D: Fair scientific evidence against this use (it may not work); F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likely does not work).

TRADITION

The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below. Acne, aging, alcohol abuse, anemia, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant, antiviral (human rotavirus activity), astringent, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), birth control, blood cleanser, cancer, diabetes, diarrhea, digestive aid, energy enhancer, fever, food uses, hair loss, heart disease, hemorrhage, hepatitis, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, immune stimulant, jaundice, kidney problems, liver disease, magnetic resonance imaging (contrast agent), malaria, menstrual pain, muscle pain, parasites, sexual dysfunction, skin care, skin sun damage, ulcers, weight loss, wrinkles.

DOSING

disclaimer: The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.

Adults (18 years and older):

There is no proven safe or effective dose for acai in adults.

Children (younger than 18 years):

There is no proven safe or effective dose for acai in children.

SAFETY

disclaimer: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

Allergies

Avoid in individuals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to acai (Euterpe oleracea) or its constituents.

Side Effects and Warnings

Acai is likely safe when used in food amounts.

Acai may aggravate or initiate hypertension (high blood pressure) or edema (swelling). It may also aggravate or initiate gastrointestinal disorders (ulcers or intestinal bleeding).

Use cautiously if taking COX-1 or COX-2 inhibitors.

Some acai products contain guarana. Guarana, which contains caffeine, is often used as an appetite suppressant and stimulant.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Acai is not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women due to a lack of available scientific evidence.

INTERACTIONS

disclaimer: Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

Interactions with Drugs

Acai may have COX-1 and COX-2 blocking properties. Use cautiously with anti-inflammatory medications.

Acai has been used as an experimental clinical oral contrast agent for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the gastrointestinal tract and therefore may affect imaging or interact with other oral contrast agents.

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

Acai may have COX-1 and COX-2 blocking properties. Use cautiously with anti-inflammatory medications.

Freeze-dried acai fruit pulp/skin powder may have antioxidant activity. Use cautiously with antioxidant agents due to possible additive effects.

Acai has been used as an experimental clinical oral contrast agent for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the gastrointestinal tract and therefore may affect imaging or interact with other oral contrast agents.

Some acai products contain guarana. Guarana, which contains caffeine, is often used as an appetite suppressant and stimulant.

ATTRIBUTION

This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).

  • Cordova-Fraga T, de Araujo DB, Sanchez TA, et al. Euterpe Oleracea (Acai) as an alternative oral contrast agent in MRI of the gastrointestinal system: preliminary results. Magn Reson Imaging 2004;22(3):389-393. View abstract
  • Del Pozo-Insfran D, Percival SS, Talcott ST. Acai (Euterpe oleracea Mart.) polyphenolics in their glycoside and aglycone forms induce apoptosis of HL-60 leukemia cells. J Agric.Food Chem 2-22-2006;54(4):1222-1229. View abstract
  • Sangronis E, Teixeira P, Otero M, et al. [Manaca, sweet potato and yam: possible substitutes of wheat in foods for two ethnic population in Venezuelan Amazon]. Arch Latinoam.Nutr 2006;56(1):77-82. View abstract
  • Schauss AG, Wu X, Prior RL, et al. Antioxidant capacity and other bioactivities of the freeze-dried Amazonian palm berry, Euterpe oleraceae mart. (acai). J Agric.Food Chem 11-1-2006;54(22):8604-8610. View abstract
disclaimer: Natural Standard Bottom Line Monograph, Copyright © 2011 (www.naturalstandard.com). Commercial distribution prohibited. This monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. You should consult with a qualified healthcare provider before making decisions about therapies and/or health conditions. disclaimer: While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy. disclaimer: The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.

Copyright © 2011 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)



Copyright © 2011 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)
 
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