A History of Healing
Grown in clusters on the Acai Palm Tree, (Euterpe oleracea), the Acai berry (pronounced ah-sigh-ee) is a small, dark purple berry, the size of a small grape, and is native to tropical Central and South America. The berries have a slight aftertaste somewhat similar to tart fruits like raspberries or cranberries.
In the wild, Euterpe oleracea grows in swamps and floodplains. It grows best in acidic, moist but well drained soil. The tree produces smallpurple flowersthat grow in thick clusters. The flowers are followed by green fruits that grow in bunches. It takes an Acai PalmTree approximately 4-5 years before it begins producing fruit. The fruit is about one inch in diameter with a single seed inside and turns dark black-purple when ripe. The Acai PalmTree produces two crops of fruit each year.
For hundreds of years, the people of the Amazon rainforests have made this nutrient-rich berry a major part of their diet. The natives of Brazil have a long history of using acai berries to heal skin conditions. They also brew a tea made from acai seeds and use it to soothe fever. Another native tradition involves boiling acai root to treat conditions as diverse as diabetes and menstrual pain.
Due to high levels of Anthocyanins, compoundsthat provide some of the coloring in red, purple and blue plants,the Acai berry has received a lot of attention by supplement manufacturers in recent years. Anthocyanins are known to have powerful antioxidant properties. These antioxidants are considered effective in neutralizing the harmful effects of free radicals on the body in general and the skin in particular.
ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) is a widely used testing method, originally developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to evaluate the oxygen radical absorbency capacity of food substances. It measures the antioxidant activity or capability of a food ingredient; the higher the measurement, the better theORACvalue.
Acai berries were found to have an ORAC score higher than any other fruit or vegetable to date. In fact they have twice the antioxidants of blueberries and 10 to 30 times the Anthocyanins of red wine.
The Acai berry is very rich in Vitamins B1, B2, B3, E and C. It is also loaded with Phosphorus, Calcium, Potassium, Fiber and Proteins, all essential to daily well-being and promoting optimum health.
For example, Vitamin C has a well-established antioxidant effect that reduces the impact of free radicals in the skin. It also plays an important role in the production of collagen in the dermis, the dense inner layer of skin beneath the epidermis. In addition, Acai berries contain other micronutrients which help protect the skin from the damaging effects of Ultraviolet (UV) light exposure, which may lead to accelerated skin aging and wrinkle formation.
This remarkable berry also contains many valuable Phytosterols, also known as plant sterols, a class of compounds found in all plants. Structurally these compounds are similar to cholesterol found in animals and play much the same role in helping to maintain cell-membrane structure. Nutricosmetics, a term used fornutritional supplements which can support the function and the structure of the skin, is a growing field which has also taken notice of the beneficial effects of the Acai berry.
Acai berry powder, used in some natural anti-aging facial treatments, is naturally rich in calcium, vitamin A, aspartic acid, glutamic acid, polyphenols and oleic acid. It is sometimes used for acne treatment and in anti-wrinkle applications. While more remains to be discovered in ongoing research, it seems that the Acai berry will retain its important place in both the fields of nutritional supplements and new advances in organic skin care products.