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Euterpe oleracea Mart


Euterpe oleracea Mart


No documentation

Vernacular Name

Amazonian palm, Acai, Assai palm, Cabbage palm, Açaí, Açaí-do-para, Açaí-do-baixo Amazonas, Açaizeiro, Assaí, Palmito açaí, Piriá


Euterpe oleracea is a species of palm of the family Arecaceae.  Most often growing to height of  measuring 12m to 18m, the slender palm has a trunk roughly measures 15cm in diametre.  On the lower portion of the trunk of E. oleracea, the bark is dry and grey, with the upper portion fresh and green.  The entire trunk is covered in dark, widely spaced rings.  The crownshaft is roughly measures 1m long, dark green to light brown and no wider than the trunk itself.  The long leaves are arranged pinnately, lanceolate in shape, ranging in size from measuring  2.4m to 4m in length.  Though it flowers throughout the year, E. oleracea produces small, inconspicuous brown or purple flowers.  The fruit of E. oleracea grows drupe, in clusters upwards of  500.  They are deep purple or light green in colour, and roughly the size of a grape, approximately 25mm in diametre.  The seed inside the fruit can grow to take up to 80% of the inside of the fruit.  E. oleracea produces fruit twice a year.

Origin / Habitat

Although thought to originate in throughout South and Central American, E. oleracea now popularly grows deep in the rainforests of Brazil.  The lush climate of the Amazon allows E.  oleracea to grow rapidly, mostly in flooded areas and swamps. The warm climate is needed for growth, and the acidic, well-drained soil makes for plush growth of this plant.

Chemical Constituents

Anthocyanins (including yanidin-3-glucoside and cyanidin-3-rutinoside), epicatechin, p-hydroxy-benzoic acid, gallic acid, (+)-catechin, protocatechuic acid, ellagic acid, p-coumaric acid, ferulic acid, vanillic acid, cyaniding, pelaronidin 3-glucoside, lipids [1] [2] [3] [4] [5].

Plant Part Used

Fruit (berry) [7].

Traditional Use

E. oleracea has provided a source of nutrition for people in South and Central America for centuries.  It is a staple in the diet of people of Brazil where it has been used to create beverages.  The   medicinal uses range from treating anemia, gastric distress, liver disease and wounds [6].



E. oleracea is commonly used as an anti-oxidant. There are laboratory studies that support this claim based on the anti-oxidant potential of the total phenolics and total anthocyanins found in Amazonian palm berry [7] [8] [9]. Another laboratory study found that fractions from  E. oleracea contribute to antioxidant potential by inhibiting nitric oxide (NO) production through reduction of the levels of inducible nitric oxide synthase expression [10].

An in vitro laboratory study measured the inhibition of reactive oxygen species (ROS) formation in freshly purified human neutrophils by extracts of  E. oleracea [11]. Results found that compounds in  E. oleracea are able to enter human cells in a fully functional form and to perform an oxygen quenching function at very low doses. The study also found that  E. oleracea had cyclooxygenase COX -1 and COX-2 inhibiting properties, supporting its traditional uses in inflammatory conditions. E. oleracea extract also reported a weak effect on lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced nitric oxide but no effect on either lymphocyte proliferation or phagocytic capacity. Another in vitro study found that both E. oleracea pulp and  E. oleracea oil extracts inhibited cell proliferation by up to 90.7%, which was accompanied by an increase of up to 2.1-fold in reactive oxygen species [12].

A laboratory study found that E. oleracea extract produced a vasodilator effect dependent on activation of NO-cGMP pathway and may also involve endothelium-derived hyperpolarizing factor (EDHF) release [13]. The authors concluded that the vasodilator effect suggests a potential use of E. oleracea extract in the managements of cardiovascular diseases.

An in vitro laboratory study also found that extracts of E. oleracea reduced cell proliferation of leukemic cells from 56 to 86% likely due to caspase-3 activation (apoptosis) [14]. The antiproliferative effects were contributed to the anthocyanin and polyphenolic fractions in the E. oleracea extract.

In a human study using 12 healthy individuals, the authors found that oral dosing of E. oleracea pulp improved plasma anti-oxidant capacity in the subjects [15].

A study found that E. oleracea pulp may be given orally to individuals as a contrast agent for MRI of the gastrointestinal tract [16]. E. oleracea pulp presented an increase in T1-weighted MRI signal, equivalent to that of gadolinium-diethyltriamine pentacetic acid, and a decrease in T2-weighted images. The authors found that the first measurements in vivo demonstrate a clear increase of contrast, in T1-weighted images, after administration of E. oleracea. Also, the opacification in a T2-weighted acquisition revealed a good contrast on bowel walls of gastric tissues.


No documentation.

Interaction and Depletions

Interaction with other Herbs

No documentation.

Interaction with Drugs

Based on pharmacology, use with caution in individuals taking anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen or aspirin.

Precautions and Contraindications

Side effects

E. oleracea has been reported safe in recommended doses. Discontinue if allergy occurs.

E. oleracea has been used as an oral contrast agent for MRI of the gastrointestinal tract and therefore it should be avoided in patients undergoing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or using oral contrast agents for MRI [16].


No documentation.

Age limitation

No documentation.

Adverse reaction

No documentation.

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  1) Western Herb


  1. Lichtenthäler R. Total oxidant scavenging capacities of Euterpe oleracea Mart. (Açaí) fruits. Int J Food Sci Nutr. Feb2005;56(1):53-64.
  2. Chin YW, Chai HB, Keller WJ, Kinghorn AD. Lignans and other constituents of the fruits of Euterpe oleracea (Acai) with antioxidant and cytoprotective activities. J Agric Food Chem. 10Sep2008;56(17):7759-7764.
  3. Pacheco-Palencia LA, Mertens-Talcott S, Talcott ST. Chemical composition, antioxidant properties, and thermal stability of a phytochemical enriched oil from Acai (Euterpe oleracea Mart.). J Agric Food Chem. 25 Jun2008;56(12):4631-4636.
  4. Del Pozo-Insfran D, Brenes CH, Talcott ST. Phytochemical composition and pigment stability of Açai (Euterpe oleracea Mart.). J Agric Food Chem. 24Mar2004;52(6):1539-1545.
  5. Neida S, Elba S. Characterization of the acai or manaca (Euterpe oleracea Mart.): a fruit of the Amazon. Arch Latinoam Nutr. Mar2007;57(1):94-98.
  6. Duke JA. Medicinal Plants of Latin America. Taylor and Francis; 2009.413.
  7. Pompeu DR, Silva EM, Rogez H. Optimisation of the solvent extraction of phenolic antioxidants from fruits of Euterpe oleracea using Response Surface Methodology. Bioresour Technol. Dec2009;100(23):6076-6082.
  8. Santos GM, Maia GA, Sousa PH, Costa JM, Figueiredo RW, Prado GM. Correlation between antioxidant activity and bioactive compounds of açaí (Euterpe oleracea Mart) comercial pulps. Arch Latinoam Nutr. Jun 2008;58(2):187-192.
  9. Rodrigues RB, Lichtenthäler R, Zimmermann BF, et al. Total oxidant scavenging capacity of Euterpe oleracea Mart. (açaí) seeds and identification of their polyphenolic compounds.J Agric Food Chem. 14Jun 2006;54(12):4162-4167.
  10. Matheus ME, de Oliveira Fernandes SB, et al. Inhibitory effects of Euterpe oleracea Mart. on nitric oxide production and iNOS expression. J Ethnopharmacol. 19Sep2006;107(2):291-296.
  11. 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. 1Nov2006;54(22):8604-8610.
  12. Pacheco-Palencia LA, Talcott ST, Safe S, Mertens-Talcott S. Absorption and biological activity of phytochemical-rich extracts from açai (Euterpe oleracea Mart.) pulp and oil in vitro. J Agric Food Chem. 28 May2008;56(10):3593-3600.
  13. Rocha AP, Carvalho LC, Sousa MA, et al. Endothelium-dependent vasodilator effect of Euterpe oleracea Mart. (Açaí) extracts in mesenteric vascular bed of the rat. Vascul Pharmacol. Feb2007;46(2):97-104.
  14. Del Pozo-Insfran D, Percival SS, Talcott ST. Açai (Euterpe oleracea Mart.) polyphenolics in their glycoside and aglycone forms induce apoptosis of HL-60 leukemia cells. J Agric Food Chem. 22Feb2006;54(4):1222-1229.
  15. Mertens-Talcott SU, Rios J, Jilma-Stohlawetz P, et al. Pharmacokinetics of anthocyanins and antioxidant effects after the consumption of anthocyanin-rich acai juice and pulp (Euterpe oleracea Mart.) in human healthy volunteers. J Agric Food Chem. 10Sep2008;56(17):7796-7802.
  16. Córdova-Fraga T, de Araujo DB, Sanchez TA, et al. Euterpe Olerácea (Açaí) as an alternative oral contrast agent in MRI of the gastrointestinal system: preliminary results. Magn Reson Imaging. Apr2004;22(3):389-393.

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