The acai (ah-sigh-ee) berry has been around for thousands of years and not until the 1990’s was it introduced to the western world. The acai berry was found to possess tremendous health properties. The acai berry was first used by the tribes of the Amazon jungle as a cure for various ailments. It is estimated that the indigenous tribes people routinely use up to 2,000 of the 3,000 known rainforest fruits for medicinal purposes. The Amazon borders eight different countries and has the world’s largest river basin. Not only does the Amazon supply one fifth of the worlds freshwater, it has the highest diversity of birds and freshwater fish. The Amazon is the largest rainforest in the world where one third of all animal and plant species live. The acai berry is just one of these fruits that has been discovered in this vast region. The Shuar tribes are one of these Amazonian tribes that have for centuries, through tradition, kept the use of plants (acai berry) for medicinal purposes.
Shuar medicine men or women are called uwishin (oo-wee-sheen’) a healer that works with medicinal plants, somebody who knows all the secrets of the rainforests. Uwishin, have a great deal of knowledge of medicinal plants and their cures, they learn from others, and through experiments from the plants themselves. One plant removes snakes venom from the body. It is the work of the uwishin to research and find solutions to illness.
The acai berry was discovered to have natural antioxidant properties, as well as being a natural cholesterol controller. When eaten it helps reduce the bad cholesterol in our blood and increases the good cholesterol. The tribes of the Amazon knew of these properties and found out that it helped build the immune system, fight infection, protect the heart, and control prostate enlargement (nature’s viagra). It was a great energy food for the tribes-people. The acai berry, which is a palm fruit, was traditionally pulped to make wine that was rich in minerals. The acai berry was also discovered to fight schistosomosis, which is transmitted by snails. Schistosomosis affecting more than 10 million Brazilians. The acaí berry is also used to produce an antibiotic that helps to fight against ‘Staphylococcus aureus,’ a common infection contracted mainly in hospitals. A berry so useful but only known to the traditional tribes men and woman of the Amazon, a lost secret.
The acaí berry comes from a palm that has a long thin trunk up to 25m high with a group of branches at the top from which hangs ribbon-like leaves. Acaí berries hang from these branches in clusters that look like groups of bluebottles. Traditionally the acai berries would be picked by hand and the tribe’s men would shimmy up the tree and cut the branches from the top of the palm tree rich in acai berries. Now that the acai berry has been discovered as a highly sort after crop by the population of Brazil it is mass produced, as it only has a 24 hour life span in which the properties of the juice are still active. The acai berries must be loaded into baskets and onto boats soon after picking. To get it to the markets in Belem’s they would have to transport the acai berries over night.
Each acai palm tree produces round about 20 kg of fruit per year and the wine produced by this fruit has become the most important product in terms of finance after wood forest products. Belem in Brazil now employs over 30,000 people on a daily basis to keep up with its enormous demand.
So we know where it comes from, what about it’s recent history? After being introduced into the western world it was realised by the modern beach going Brazilian surfer as a natural way to regain energy. The acai berry was pulped and frozen to keep it fresh and became a natural additive to the smoothies drunk along the beaches of Brazil. It was known to help your prostate and was seen as a natural viagra for the boys of the beach. It soon became a drink for the trendy, for the sand and surf brigade.
The researches soon got hold of this magic acai berry and realised that it would be of great importance in the well-being and health of the western world, our diets are often over filled with fat and fast food, acai is naturally full with energy, it has a vibrant taste of berries with a hint of chocolate, is rich in proteins, fibre, vitamin E, minerals and essential Omega oils to reduce our bad cholesterol caused by our western diets. The acai berries fatty acid ratio resembles that of olive oil this is thought to be a contributing factor to low incidence of heart disease in Mediterranean populations. The acai berry contains similar properties as red wine in controlling fats in the blood and is a fair contributor to go up against the wine diets of the Mediterranean people.
Known as the miracle fruit, acai berries also helps in preventing cancer due to it’s antioxidant properties that are five times more potent than gingko biloba, a commonly used herbal therapy product.
Acai berry juice has been introduced into other products like bars and health snacks to be sold at gyms and health spars. It’s history is important as by studying the effects that the berry has had on the tribesmen in the Amazon we have discovered that it’s traditional use as an energy booster for hunting and good libido has lead to acai berry juice to being a very commercially viable product.
It’s most recent history is that it has been endorsed by such talk show hosts as Oprah Winfrey and has been seen as a feature on her show, a berry with star success. So lets say good buy to guranum and hello to the magic acai berry.