The Benefits of Maqui Berry

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Maqui (Aristotelia chilensis) is a vibrant purple berry native to some regions of South America. Long consumed in whole and juice form, maqui is now found in a number of dietary supplements (including powder, capsule and juice blends).

Rich in antioxidants known as anthocyanins, proponents claim that maqui supplements offer a wide range of health benefits. Other antioxidant-rich fruits include goji berryacai berrynoni juicemangosteencamu camu and tart cherries.

Uses for Maqui

Maqui is touted as a natural remedy for several health conditions, including arthritis and high cholesterol. In addition, maqui is purported to protect against some forms of cancer (such as colon cancer) and a number of inflammation-related diseases (including diabetes and heart disease).

Some proponents also suggest that maqui can help support weight-loss efforts, slow the aging process, help with dry eyes, improve skin health, promote detox and stimulate the immune system.

Benefits of Maqui Berry

Studies show that maqui contains anthocyanins, a type of potent antioxidant. Research suggests that consumption of anthocyanins may boost your defense against high blood pressure and high cholesterol. In addition, preliminary studies indicate that anthocyanins may possess anti-cancer properties, fight obesity and enhance heart health.

1) Cholesterol

Although anthocyanins may offer a range of health benefits, there is currently a lack of research on the specific health effects of maqui.

One of the few available studies includes a 2002 report in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. In tests on human cells, scientists found that maqui berry juice significantly reduced low-density lipoprotein (LDL) oxidation and also reduced intracellular oxidative stress.  

2) Dry Eyes

A pilot study published in Panminerva Medica in 2014 examined the use of a maqui berry extract (taken orally in a daily dosage of either 30 mg or 60 mg) for a period of 60 days.

Scores on the Dry Eye-related Quality of Life Score decreased significantly after supplementation at both dosages, and tear fluid volume increased significantly after 30 days of treatment. After 60 days, tear fluid volume dropped slightly in the group taking 30 mg, whereas the improvement persisted with those taking 60 mg per day. Further research as needed, as this study was very small (13 participants) and did not have a control group.

3) Skin

A preliminary report published in Minerva Cardioangiologica in 2015 suggests that a maqui extract applied topically may provide some protection against UV exposure and may counteract skin aging when applied prior to UV exposure as well as after exposure.

4) Pain

In a study in the Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, tests on mice revealed that certain chemicals found in maqui may have helped lessen pain (as well as offered antioxidant benefits and reduced inflammation).

Caveats

Very little is known about the safety of long-term or regular intake of maqui supplements.

Theoretically, maqui berry may lower blood glucose levels, and may have an additive hypoglycemic effects when used with supplements with hypoglycemic potential, or with diabetes medication.

Supplements haven't been tested for safety and due to the fact that dietary supplements are largely unregulated, the content of some products may differ from what is specified on the product label. Also keep in mind that the safety of supplements in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and those with medical conditions or who are taking medications has not been established. You can also get tips on using supplements here.

Where to Find It

Available for purchase online, maqui capsules, powders and juices are sold in many natural-food stores and in stores specializing in dietary supplements.

Using Maqui Berry for Health

Due to a lack of supporting research, it's too soon to recommend maqui supplements as a treatment for any health concern. To increase your intake of anthocyanins without taking maqui supplements, make sure to include anthocyanin-rich foods like berries, red onions, kidney beans, pomegranates and grapes in your diet.

If you're considering using maqui supplements to treat a health condition, talk to your doctor before starting your supplement regimen. It's important to note that self-treating a health condition with maqui and avoiding standard care may have serious consequences.

Sources

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Céspedes CL, Alarcon J, Valdez-Morales M, Paredes-López O. "Antioxidant activity of an unusual 3-hydroxyindole derivative isolated from fruits of Aristotelia chilensis (Molina) Stuntz." Z Naturforsch C. 2009 Sep-Oct;64(9-10):759-62.

Escribano-Bailón MT, Alcalde-Eon C, Muñoz O, Rivas-Gonzalo JC, Santos-Buelga C. "Anthocyanins in berries of Maqui (Aristotelia chilensis (Mol.) Stuntz)." Phytochem Anal. 2006 Jan-Feb;17(1):8-14.

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Hitoe S, Tanaka J, Shimoda H. MaquiBright™ standardized maqui berry extract significantly increases tear fluid production and ameliorates dry eye-related symptoms in a clinical pilot trial. Panminerva Med. 2014 Sep;56(3 Suppl 1):1-6.

Mazza GJ. "Anthocyanins and heart health." Ann Ist Super Sanita. 2007;43(4):369-74.

Miranda-Rottmann S, Aspillaga AA, Pérez DD, Vasquez L, Martinez AL, Leighton F. "Juice and phenolic fractions of the berry Aristotelia chilensis inhibit LDL oxidation in vitro and protect human endothelial cells against oxidative stress." J Agric Food Chem. 2002 Dec 18;50(26):7542-7.

Muñoz O, Christen P, Cretton S, Backhouse N, Torres V, Correa O, Costa E, Miranda H, Delporte C. "Chemical study and anti-inflammatory, analgesic and antioxidant activities of the leaves of Aristotelia chilensis (Mol.) Stuntz, Elaeocarpaceae." J Pharm Pharmacol. 2011 Jun;63(6):849-59. doi: 10.1111/j.2042-7158.2011.01280.x.

Prior RL, Wu X, Gu L, Hager TJ, Hager A, Howard LR. "Whole berries versus berry anthocyanins: interactions with dietary fat levels in the C57BL/6J mouse model of obesity." J Agric Food Chem. 2008 Feb 13;56(3):647-53.

Rubilar M, Jara C, Poo Y, Acevedo F, Gutierrez C, Sineiro J, Shene C. "Extracts of Maqui ( Aristotelia chilensis ) and Murta ( Ugni molinae Turcz.): sources of antioxidant compounds and α-Glucosidase/α-Amylase inhibitors." J Agric Food Chem. 2011 Mar 9;59(5):1630-7.

Watson RR, Schönlau F. Nutraceutical and antioxidant effects of a delphinidin-rich maqui berry extract Delphinol®: a review. Minerva Cardioangiol. 2015 Apr;63(2 Suppl 1):1-12.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

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