Maqui in Popular and Traditional Medicine
Phytochemicals and ORAC
The amazing conclusions of recent scientific research on health properties of some naturally occurring chemical compounds in plants, have gone far beyond the borders of scientific institutions and caught public policy attention. Phytochemicals have been found not only to reduce bad cholesterol, but also prevent cancer, improve memory, retard aging and other ailments very much related to lifestyles in modern societies. This is why the World Health Organization and the Food and Agricultural Organization have recently recommended the world population to have a daily consumption of at least 400 g of fresh fruits and vegetables, a far fetching figure indeed, at least in the short run. Some of these phytochemicals can be obtained from fruits and vegetables widely available in groceries and supermarkets. From this basic food basket, prunes, raisins and blueberries are top of the ranking in antioxidant capacity (measured in ORAC units).
Limited access to unique species like Maqui
Unfortunately, consumers in the Northern Hemisphere sometimes don´t have access to some unique species just because they grow in remote corners of the world and in limited quantities. One of these fruits is Maqui, a small and deeply colored berry that grows in the Chilean Patagonia.
The Power of Maqui
Maqui has been found to have 5, 10 and 11 times more antioxidant capacity than prunes, raisins and blueberries, respectively. From 2003 onwards, the benefits of this Patagonian Wild Berry are not only available for the inhabitants of the Patagonia, but also for people all around the world.
Mapuches, and People living in the Chilean countryside have historically consumed Patagonian Wild Berry leaves, stems and fruits, for treating multiple illnesses and cure sore throat, diarrhea, ulcers, hemorrhoids, birth delivery, fever, tumors and other ailments. Due to its deep purple color given by its extraordinary concentration of anthocyanins it is also applied as natural colorant in wines and other popular foods and beverages.
Had Patagonian Wild Berry originally grown in the Northern Hemisphere, not only Natives would have regarded it as a gift from the Great Spirit, but various centuries later, it would have toppled the ranking of the most powerful antioxidant fruits … by far.
Dr. Daniel Nadeau and Dr. James Joseph, authors of “The Color Code”, a book praising the power of plant pigments in extending and improving health, leave the “Blue-Purple” pigments, “the most exciting fruits”, for the
In May, 2002, Dr. Ronald Wrolstad, distinguished professor of food science and technology at Oregon State University, was approached by BDS and requested to do a analysis of three samples of Patagonian Wild Berry juice concentrates. In his report he concluded that maqui juice “shows a very high total anthocyanin value (203 mg/100ml)”. Likewise, Dr. Federico Leighton, pioneer in the research relating moderate consumption of red wine to reduction in “bad cholesterol”, in a recently published scientific article (Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry) states that
“Patagonian Wild Berry shows and exceptionally high content of phenolics with high antioxidant capacity, which protect both LDL from oxidation and endothelial cells from intracellular oxidative stress, suggesting that Patagonian Wild Berry could have antiatherogenic properties”.
Antiatherogenic properties refers to phenolics in fruits and vegetables having a beneficial effect in inhibiting LDL oxidation. Oxidized LDL induces oxidative stress and modifies gene expression in endothelial cells (the bricks of the arterial walls). Fruit phenols also protect endothelial cells directly from oxidative stress induced by different stressors. The enormous amount of total phenols in Patagonian Wild Berry if compared even to red wine and blueberries can be observed in the following figures:
Other Potential Health benefits of Patagonian Wild Berry
Most phytochemicals in Patagonian Wi Berry leaves, roots and fruit have been identified.
But not until recently have these compounds being sought after in relation to its biological activity. Patagonian Wild Berry has not only shown antioxidant and antiatherogenic properties but also anti-bacterial activity
against Sarcina lutea and Staphylococcus aureus and anti-inflammatory properties.
Some of the alkaloid complex found in leaves and roots have shown positive
activity in KB anti-carcinogenic test (anti-tumoral activity).
The Following Compunds Have Been Found In Maqui:
- Delfinidin 3,5-diglucoside
- Cyanidine 3,5-diglucoside
- Delfinidin 3-glucoarabinoside
- Delfinidin 5-glucoarabinoside
- Delfinidin 3-glucoside
- Cyanidin 3-glucoarabinoside
- Cyanidin 3-glucoside
- Flavonoids-in fruit
- Alkaloids-in leaves (mostly of indolic nature with
- antitumoral and antimicrobial activities)
- Aristoteline (decreases blood flow and pulse in rats).
- Complex blend of other unidentified alkaloids
- Others-such as one n-nonacosane, B-sitoesterol, antraquinone and common triterpenes
Besides being of extreme interest as an antioxidant, the deep blue/purple colour in Maqui makes it also worth of analysis due to its colourant properties. Maquiextract has 1,400 CU (color units), 30% more than elderberries and 14 times more than blueberries (be careful not to taint your clothes with Maqui juice!). This characteristic makes it a very interesting natural colourant in isolation or in blends with others juices or fruit preparations.