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Acai (Euterpe oleracea)

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Also listed as: Euterpe oleracea
Related terms
Background
Evidencetable
Tradition
Dosing
Safety
Interactions
Attribution
Bibliography

Related Terms
  • Acai, açaí, acaí, acai preto, acaí-do-Pará, Acai flour, acai palm, acaizeiro, Amazonian palm, Amazonian palm berry, anthocyanins, asai, ashaí, assaí, cabbage palm, calcium, cansin, (+)-catechin, chonta, cyanidin, cyanidin 3-diglycoside, cyanidin 3-glucoside, cyanidin 3-rutoside, ellagic acid, epicatechin, Euterpe badiocarpa, Euterpe oleracea, Euterpe oleracea Mart., ferulic acid, flavonoids, gallic acid, guasai, hasabis, hausai, heart of palm, huai, iron, jicara, juçara, manac, manaka, manicole, MonaVie ActiveT, monounsaturated oleic acid, morroke, naidí, omega-6 fatty acids, omega-9 fatty acids, OptiAcaiT, palisade pine, palm heart, palmito, palmiteiro, panan, p-coumaric acid, pelaronidin 3-glucoside phosphorus, p-hydroxy-benzoic acid, phytonutrients, phytosterols, pina, pinau, pinot, piriá, potassium, prasara, procyanidins, protocatechuic acid, saké, uassi, ungurahua, vanillic acid, vinho de acai, vitamin B1, B2, B3, C, and E, wasei, wapoe, yisara, yuyu chonta.

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

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 for this use (it may not work)
F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likley does not work)


Tradition / Theory

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, diagnostic procedure (contrast agent), 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, malaria, menstrual pain, muscle pain, parasites, sexual dysfunction, skin care, skin sun damage, ulcers, weight loss, wrinkles.

Dosing

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

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

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).

Bibliography
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

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


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.


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