Does Maqui Berry Really Work?
Aren't Test Tube Studies Good Enough?
You might be tempted to think that human studies to look at the actual effects on disease prevention or treatment are not really necessary to "prove" the benefits of maqui berry. However, many researchers (and much of the medical community and the general public) made a similar mistake with other antioxidants.
We all "knew" that antioxidants were good for us -- that they could prevent and even treat a wide range of diseases and were a "fountain of youth" -- based largely on test tube studies or animal studies that looked at the effects of eating antioxidant-rich foods. We also knew that certain vitamin supplements were effective antioxidants. Based on this information, we jumped to the conclusion that such vitamins could keep us healthy and could prevent and treat many different diseases.
However, one large analysis of 67 clinical trials has suggested that antioxidant vitamin supplements might actually increase the risk of death due to any cause. While this research is controversial, and is not directly related to maqui berry, it highlights the fact that we should not be so quick to jump to conclusions based on test tube studies, animal studies, or preliminary human studies. The human body is complex, and we simply are not able to accurately predict what may happen with a particular product, especially a complex one with many different components, based on test tube studies.
Final ThoughtsThere is little evidence to show that maqui berries really work for many claimed uses. As is often the case with dietary supplements or "functional foods," some of the more outlandish claims about the health benefits of maqui should be viewed with skepticism -- or, at the very least, with caution -- until more research is available. However, modest consumption of the actual fruit or juice might be considered beneficial, as is the case with most fruit.