Açaí (acai) is a berry grown on the açaí palm tree of tropical Central and South America.
Açaí is well-known for its reddish-purple fruit, which tastes like a blend of berry and chocolate. The açaí berry is a relative of the blueberry, cranberry, and other dark purple fruits. A variety of açaí berry products are available for consumers, including juices, powders, tablets, and capsules.
Research on açaí fruit has centered on its potential antioxidant properties. Açaí fruit has also shown anticancer and anti-inflammatory activity. Early research suggests açaí fruit pulp may be an alternative contrast agent for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
In overweight people, an açaí product reduced the levels of markers for metabolic disease risk. Additional research is warranted.
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.
Açaí contains high amounts of anthocyanins, a group of polyphenols that lend açaí its deep purple color and contribute to its antioxidant activity. Research has shown that antioxidant capacity in the blood increased after consumption of açaí juice and pulp. Additional research is needed in this area.
In preliminary study, the effects of açaí pulp were evaluated in overweight people at risk for metabolic disorders. Some favorable effects were found on select metabolic disorder markers. Further well-designed studies are needed before a conclusion may be drawn.
* 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, antimutagenic, antiparasitic, antiviral, astringent, blood cleanser, cancer, clogged arteries, contraceptive (birth control), diabetes, diagnostic procedure, diarrhea, digestive aid, energy enhancer, fever, food uses, hair loss, hemorrhage, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, immune stimulant, jaundice (yellowing of the skin), joint and muscle pain, kidney problems, liver disease, malaria, menstrual pain, sexual dysfunction, skin care, sun protection, weight loss, wrinkle prevention.
General: Brazilians commonly drink up to a liter (34 ounces) of açaí juice daily. Roots of the açaí palm tree have been prepared as a tea of which 1-2 cups are taken by mouth daily. Additional suggested doses taken by mouth include 1 ounce of powder mixed with 10-12 ounces of water once or twice daily, or freeze-dried açaí in capsules or tablets at 1-2 grams daily.
For metabolic syndrome (coronary heart disease), 100 grams of Sambazon® Açaí Smoothie Pack (Sambazon Inc., San Clemente, CA), a frozen product containing açaí pulp, has been taken by mouth twice daily for one month.
Children (younger than 18 years):
There is no proven safe or effective dose for açaí in children.
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.
Avoid with known allergy or sensitivity to açaí (Euterpe oleracea), its parts, or members of the Arecaceae family.
Side Effects and Warnings
Açaí is likely safe when used in food amounts. Açaí is possibly safe when used in medicinal amounts.
Açaí may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised in people with diabetes or hypoglycemia, and in those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may need to be monitored by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, and medication adjustments may be necessary.
Use cautiously when açaí juice is taken by mouth. Use cautiously in people taking cholesterol lowering agents or anti-inflammatories. Use cautiously with caffeine. Use cautiously in children, pregnant and breastfeeding women.
Use cautiously in people with autoimmune disorders or those using immune altering agents. Use cautiously in people with kidney diseases or those using agents that may increase potassium levels.
Avoid in people with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to açaí (Euterpe oleracea), its parts, or members of the Arecaceae family.
Açaí may also cause altered immune function, Chagas' disease (food borne illness), increased potassium levels, or lowered blood sugar or insulin.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
There is currently a lack of scientific evidence on the use of açaí during pregnancy or breastfeeding.
Açaí may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using medications that may also lower blood sugar. People taking drugs for diabetes by mouth or insulin should be monitored closely by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist. Medication adjustments may be necessary.
Açaí may also interact with agents for cancer, agents that alter immune function, anti-inflammatories, caffeine, cholesterol lowering agents, potassium salts, and radiocontrast agents.
Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements
Açaí may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using herbs or supplements that may also lower blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may require monitoring, and doses may need adjustment.
Açaí may also interact with anti-inflammatories, antioxidants, caffeine, cholesterol lowering herbs and supplements, herbs and supplements for cancer, herbs and supplements that alter immune function, and potassium.
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Pozo-Insfran, D., Percival, S. S., and Talcott, S. T. Açaí (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.
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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.