Açaí berry cleanses have recently become popular throughout Europe and the United States.
However, you may wonder if the açaí berry cleanse supplements at your local health food store are worth trying.
This article explains whether açaí berry cleanses are effective or safe.
An açaí berry cleanse is a weight loss supplement available in tablet and liquid form. The length of the cleanse depends on the product and type of supplement.
For instance, Applied Nutrition’s tablet cleanse lasts 14 days and requires that you take a total of 4 tablets per day, 2 before breakfast and 2 at bedtime (4).
The Garden Greens detox liquid is a 32-ounce (1 L) cleanse consumed over 48 hours. You mix 4 ounces (110 mL) of the detox liquid with 4–8 ounces (120–240 mL) of water and drink 4 times per day for 2 weeks (5).
These products claim to be detoxes that cleanse your body of toxins and inflammation, removing any excess matter that clogs your digestive tract. Proponents assert that cleanses produce regular bowel patterns, less bloating, a flatter tummy, and healthy weight loss.
Plus — aside from açaí berry — these supplements offer insignificant nutritional benefits. For example, Applied Nutrition’s product provides 7% of the Daily Value (DV) for calcium per serving (2 tablets) but no dietary fiber or other health-promoting nutrients (4).
Açaí berry cleanses are weight loss supplements that are said to remove toxins and flush excess matter from your colon, thus restoring your metabolism. Yet, these claims lack scientific evidence.
The supposed benefits of açaí berry cleanses lack scientific support, so they’re best to avoid.
In fact, research shows that most açaí supplements contain little or no açaí fruit. Some supplements dilute the concentration of açaí extract so much that any benefits of the fruit are likely negligible (
Furthermore, many açaí berry cleanses contain harmful ingredients like cascara sagrada, an herbal laxative that may cause loose stools in some breastfed infants (
You should keep in mind that your liver naturally detoxes your body of harmful substances. There’s no scientific evidence to support the detox claims of weight loss supplements (
As such, if you’re interested in açaí, you should buy the whole fruit or fruit purées.
Due to a lack of scientific backing and safety information, you should avoid açaí cleanses.
Here are some of the downsides and side effects of an açaí berry cleanse.
One of the main ingredients in the açaí berry cleanse is cascara sagrada, a traditional herbal remedy that has been used to treat constipation.
While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers cascara sagrada unsafe and ineffective for use in over-the-counter stimulant laxatives, you can still find it as an ingredient in some supplements, including açaí berry cleanses (4, 10).
Cascara sagrada may also cause abdominal pain and dark urine. In rare cases, it may lead to liver inflammation, also known as hepatitis (
Warning labels on some açaí cleanse products indicate that cascara sagrada may worsen diarrhea and cause loose stools or abdominal pain. If you experience these symptoms, you should discontinue the cleanse immediately (4).
Unsafe during pregnancy
For example, cascara sagrada is an unsafe ingredient commonly found in cleanses — including açaí cleanses — that has been shown to enter breastmilk and cause loose stools in infants (
If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding and are experiencing constipation, or want to learn more about safe weight loss options, consult your medical team or a registered dietitian.
May disrupt gut health
Since açaí cleanses contain the stimulant laxative cascara sagrada, they aren’t intended for long-term use.
Long-term use of stimulant laxatives is associated with fluid loss and dehydration. This may harm your colon, increasing your risk of colon cancer (
Furthermore, these laxatives may disrupt the balance of good bacteria in your gut, which may harm your immune health (
One product recommends taking at least a 30-day break between açaí cleanse use cycles to support natural bowel regularity (4).
Linked to restrictive dieting
If you decide to do an açaí cleanse, you may be forgoing healthier and more nutritious foods at the expense of a dubious weight loss supplement.
For instance, the Garden Greens açaí detox suggests that you limit food intake to simple grains, fruits, and vegetables for the best detox results (5).
However, diets and supplements that promote rapid weight loss and encourage many dietary restrictions are unsustainable, as lost weight may be regained. In addition, these supplements may pose long-term health risks like bone loss (
You should consult your doctor before trying weight loss supplements or restrictive diets.
Açaí berry cleanses contain the harmful laxative cascara sagrada, which may cause abdominal pain, disrupt healthy gut bacteria, and worsen immune health. Restrictive diets that go hand in hand with these cleanses are also dangerous.
You should always consider dietary and lifestyle changes — not cleanses — your primary means of losing weight and boosting your health. Here are some tips that support sustainable weight loss (
- Eat whole fruit. Dietary fiber has been shown to support weight loss. Açaí fruit is rich in fiber, but aҫaí supplements and cleanses lack this nutrient.
- Stay hydrated. Drink a glass of water with each meal and replace sugary beverages with water for sustainable weight loss.
- Eat slowly. Eating slowly reduces food intake, boosts weight reducing hormones, and helps you to feel full.
- Choose whole grains. A higher whole grain intake has been associated with a lower risk of weight gain. Thus, try to replace refined carbs with whole grains.
- Get quality sleep. Poor sleep is associated with weight gain. Adults 18 years and older should aim for a minimum of 7 hours of sleep per night.
Alternatives for açaí berry cleanse for sustainable weight loss include eating whole fruit, drinking water as your primary beverage, eating slowly, choosing whole grains, and getting high quality sleep.
Test-tube studies demonstrate that açaí may also protect against bone loss by mitigating inflammation and stopping the multiplication of osteoclasts — the cells responsible for bone loss (
While further research is needed, animal studies indicate that açaí may likewise fight cancer growth (
As such, it’s best to eat this fruit in its whole or puréed form rather than try cleanses. Açaí makes a great addition to smoothies, fruit bowls, and yogurt.
Açaí berries provide numerous health benefits. It’s likely easiest to eat this fruit in its puréed form.
An açaí berry cleanse is a weight loss supplement that claims to reduce toxins and excess weight by unclogging your digestive tract using stimulant laxatives, such as cascara sagrada.
Yet, it’s safer and healthier to eat whole açaí berries or purée rather than to try a cleanse.
That’s because cleanses make dubious health claims and have been shown to be unsafe, as they may harm gut health, trigger restrictive eating patterns, and pose dangers during pregnancy.
If you’re looking to lose weight or give yourself a healthy reset, it’s best to follow a balanced diet and get sufficient exercise.
Just one thing
Try this today: For a refreshing snack or breakfast, make an açaí berry smoothie with açaí purée, orange juice, and a banana. It provides all of this berry’s nutrients and benefits — with none of the downsides of a cleanse.