FM/CFS/ME RESOURCES - Drug Database - Acai

 

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Drug Database - Acai Acai Berries and Powder

Common Name: Acai (ah-say-ee)

Botanical Name: Euterpe Oleracea

Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity of acai has been documented. Folk medicinal uses include treatment of fever, pain, and flu. The fruit's dark green oil has been used as an antidiarrheal agent. However, there is a lack of clinical information to recommend acai for any use.

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Understanding Acai

The acai berry, pronounced ah-say-ee, Acaizeiro, the name of the tree from whose berry the acai juice derives. The acai berry is a fruit that has grown locally in the wetlands, such as the Amazon rainforest, of South and Central America for hundreds of years. It can be found on the tops of special trees there called acai palms.

This berry itself contains a large, inedible pit in center, making the acai berry pulp the real source of food and nutrition. The natives of the land have used this berry as one of their major food sources, oftentimes making up to 40% of their daily diet intake. However, the berry is used for much more than that. The inedible seed in the center is used for jewelry and the branches from the acai palm are used to construct buildings and roofing.

Acai is typically made available in juice, powder or pulp form. If pulp is chosen, it's good to know that the consistency of these acai formulas will naturally be more thick.

Acai Juice is one of serveral health juices being advertised widely on the internet. Acai juice is considered healthy because of it's polyphenolics which have been associated with decreasing the incidence of certain types of cancers. Acai is nutritionally powerful as a source of fiber, those healthy Omega 3's, B Vitamins and certain minerals, including iron.

In addition, this nutritionally rich antioxidant juice boasts a very high ORAC rating. ORAC measures antioxidant properties in a substance. The effect of Acai against leukemia cells has also been studied...it appears that this particular fruit may hold some promise in that area but it's too soon to say anything definitive. If you have leukemia, ask your doctor about Acai.

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Special Warnings

Avoid use if hypersensitivity to any acai palm components exists.

Since Acai is high in potassium. If you take prescription blood pressure meds, you should check with your doctor before consuming natural juices that may be high in potassium, including Acai, to avoid the potential of creating abnormal levels of potassium in your system.

Due to its theobromine content, acai can be seen as a stimulant, creating a feeling of increased energy and increased autonomic activation. Thus, as with any stimulant (caffeine, nicotine, etc) it is prudent to maintain an awareness of the level of one's consumption and make an effort not to consume acai in excess.

Additionally, those with a stimulant intolerance (usually this is identified by noticing a sensitivity to caffeine) may want to avoid acai, as it may cause them to experience heart palpitations or difficulty in falling asleep. Aside from the possibility of this side effect, there are no known acai side effects that have been reported upon since acai has become popularized in the Western world.

People point to acai's long use historically in Brazil as a reason for the lack of acai side effects, often saying that if it has any noticeable negative effects, it would not have enjoyed such popularity amongst the Brazilian people.

Although acai by itself is entirely safe, many people tend to misuse acai, which is in fact quite dangerous. Because of the weight loss properties of acai, it is not terribly uncommon for people to take their use of acai to an extreme and unhealthy place.

Dieters have gone on diets or cleanses of exclusively acai, and this can be highly problematic. Fasting or drastically reducing food intake deprives an individual of a healthy diet and adequate nutrient intake. In so doing, it can cause a number of rather serious health problems, in addition to putting intense stress upon the body and major organs including the brain and heart.

If acai is used in this manner, specific problems that have been known to develop include:

  • malnutrition
  • headaches
  • stomachaches
  • dizziness
  • fainting
  • nausea
  • weakness / fatigue

While these are not acai side effects per se, this is something to take note of if you are intending to begin consuming this berry.

Additionally, it is essential that people understand that the body has two modes of "running", so to speak, and when it is deprived of calories for too long, the body behaves in a manner that is entirely counterproductive to maintenance of a healthy lifestyle and is more likely to impedeweight loss than to promote it.

Acai by itself is quite safe and has been proven to be effective in providing a number of nutrients and promoting a healthy lifestyle. Because it is a food, it presents no particular risk of acai side effects, adverse reactions or negative effects.

However, it is essential to note that acai is often mixed with other things in nutritional supplements (which may have more drastic side effects), and reading the label of all supplements is absolutely necessary.

As with any change in diet or decision to take a nutritional supplement, it is ideal that every individual has a discussion with his or her natural health practitioner about the pros and cons of this decision and any risks that may be presented by his or her personal health history.

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Side Effects

Because acai is a berry, it has no marked side effects - the possible negative effects of consuming acai are no more dramatic than that which could be caused by a cup of coffee. That said, it is important with dietary elements (particularly those taken in supplement form, such as acai supplements) that you pay attention to the recommended dosage and make an effort not to consume more than is recommended (either through eating or supplements). Doing so could provoke acai side effects, as would the over-consumption of any food.

Due to its theobromine content, acai can be seen as a stimulant, creating a feeling of increased energy and increased autonomic activation. Thus, as with any stimulant (caffeine, nicotine, etc) it is prudent to maintain an awareness of the level of one's consumption and make an effort not to consume acai in excess.

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