Scientific Name(s): Aristotelia chilensis (Molina) Stuntz.
Common Name(s): Clon, Koelon, Maqui, Queldron, Wineberry
Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Jan 5, 2018.
Although there are limited clinical trials to support uses, maqui berry, the fruit of the Aristotelia chilensis, has been used as an antioxidant cardioprotectant and as a febrifuge, as well as for scarring injuries, atherosclerosis, hyperglycemia, and cancer. It is also used as food in jams and beverages. In Chilean folk medicine, the berries are used for inflammation, as an antihemorrhagic, and as a febrifuge. The extracts inhibit lipid accumulations. Finally, the fruits protect cells from ischemic/reperfusion conditions.
Fruit pulp extract was effective at 0.1 to 10 ppm as an antioxidant. The juice can also be used at 4 mL diluted to approximately 160 to 200 mg/mL as an effective antioxidant. The acetone extract of the fruit pulp showed radical scavenging at 6.1 ppm. A standardized maqui berry extract (Delphinol) has been studied at 450 mg/day for antioxidant effects.
Contraindications have not been identified.
Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.
None well documented.
Research on antioxidants reported low toxicity in phenolic contents; it is assumed there are no toxic effects at active doses.
A. chilensis is a small, evergreen dioecious shrub that grows in dense thickets in central and southern Chilean temperate forests and in southwestern Argentina. It is a member of the Elaeocarpaceae familyEscribano-Bailón 2006 and grows to 3 to 5 millimeters in height. The trunk is divided and the bark is smooth.Céspedes 2010, Schreckinger 2010 The coriaceous leaves are opposite and ovate-lanceolate with serrated edges; venation if prominent. The leaf stalks and young branches are red and the late spring, unisex flowers are white, maturing in the fall to small, purple/black edible berries about 4 to 6 millimeters in diameter with 3 to 8 angled seeds. The plant grows well in slightly acidic, moderately fertile, well-drained soils. It grows rapidly with adequate moisture in abandoned, burned, or overexploited soils, protecting them from erosion.Escribano-Bailón 2006, Plants 2013
The leaves and fruits are astringent and have been used in Chilean folk medicine as an antidiarrheal, a febrifuge, and an antihemorrhage agent. Berries alone have been used for eye health and as a colorant. The intense red color of the aqueous extract of the fruit is due to the presence of anthocyanin pigments and can be used as a natural dye.Escribano-Bailón 2006
The leaves have been used as an anti-inflammatory agent, for kidney pain, stomach ulcers, and digestive ailments.Céspedes 2008 The leaves and fruits have been used in folk medicine to treat a variety of ailments including inflammation, sore throat, kidney pain, and stomach disorders such as tumors, ulcers, and diarrhea. They have also been used as an astringent and antihemorraghic.Plants 2003
Phytochemical studies of the maqui plant indicate the presence of indole alkaloids, flavonoids, and cyanidin glucosides, delfidin, malvidin, petunidin, coumarins, and triterpenes. The specific compounds identified from an ethanolic aqueous extract of the fruits are gentisic acid, ferulic acid, gallic acid, p-coumaric acid, sinapic acid, 4-hydroxybenzoic acid, delphinidin, cyanidin, vanillic acid, delphinidin gallate, gallocatechin gallate, quercetin, rutin, myricetin, catechin and epi-catechin as a 1:1 mixture, and several glycosides of anthocyanidins (delphinidin-3-sambubioside-5-glucoside, delphinidin-3,5-diglucoside, cyanidin-3-sambubioside-5-glucoside, cyanidin-3,5-diglucoside, delphinidin-3-sambubioside, delphinidin-3-glucoside, cyanidin-3-sambubioside, and cyanidin-3-glucoside), and proanthocyanidin B.Céspedes 2010
Delphinidin-3-glucoside (peak 5) is the main anthocyanin component in this berry. The amount of phenolic acid in the fruit varies depending on when and where it is harvested.Schreckinger 2010
Because the fruit is used in wine, the ethanolic aqueous extracts have been used to further define bioactivity and chemistry. Ethanolic and acetone fractions had the most bioactivity when compared with quercetin and tocopherol.Céspedes 2010 Several research studies have outlined the phytochemicals and show the activity of the berries to be due to phenolic content preventing oxidative stress.
Uses and Pharmacology
The antioxidant effects of a standardized maqui berry extract (Delphinol) was explored in a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled dietary intervention trial in 42 overweight, light smokers who had a negative history of chronic disease. Participants were 45 to 65 years of age. Vegetarians, regular users of multivitamins or supplements, and those who exercised vigorously were excluded. After 4 weeks of supplementing their usual diet with the maqui berry extract (450 mg/day equivalent to 162 mg/day anthocyanins) or placebo, a significant improvement was observed in oxidative status (as measured by oxidized-low density lipoprotein [LDL] cholesterol and F2-isoprostanes) in the extract group compared to baseline (P<0.05). No comparative data to placebo was provided for the treatment period. No adverse events were reported in either group.Davinelli 2015
The phenolic antioxidants found in the fruit are known cardioprotectants.Céspedes 2008 The cardioprotective properties may be a result of the protection of phenols in the maqui berry juice, which prevents the oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or cholesterol. The oxidation of LDL occurs when LDL cholesterol particles react with free radicals. The oxidized LDL itself becomes more reactive with the surrounding tissues, which can produce tissue damage.
In vitro data
During one in vitro study, it was observed that the juice extracted from maqui fruits protected against free radicals more effectively than other berries.Miranda-Rottmann 2002 The berries reduced lipids by inhibiting adipogenesis, not by regulation of lipid metabolism at the mature stage of adipocytes. Human erythrocytes are affected in vitro by flavonoids of A. chilensis leaves. Phenolic extracts decreased the production of nitric oxide (3.7% to 25.5%) and prostaglandin E2 (9.1% to 89.1%) and the expression of inducible nitric oxide synthase (9.8% to 61.8%) and cycloxygenase-2 (16.6% to 62%)Schreckinger 2010 in lipopolysaccharide-stimulated RAW 264.7 macrophages. Lipid accumulation was inhibited from 4% to 11% when adipocytes received a single treatment and from 6% to 38% when adipocytes were treated at varying day intervals.Céspedes 2010
In another study, it was shown that the addition of the aqueous extract of maqui berries changed the physical shape of erythrocytes, resulting in antioxidant activity and the ability to penetrate cell membranes.Suwalsky 2008
In a small, unique study, fermented berry juice increased antioxidant capacity, despite quantities of the phenolics not being greater than the unfermented berries.Wang 2012
As a follow up to positive results in animal studies, a standardized extract of maqui berries (Delphinol; 25% w/w delphinidin glycosides and 35% total anthocyanins) was investigated in a small double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled crossover trial in 10 healthy volunteers with altered glucose tolerance. After a single 200 mg dose, postprandial blood glucose was significantly lower at 60 and 90 minutes during the maqui berry phase compared to the placebo phase (P<0.05 each) and insulin concentrations were observed to be lower at 60 minutes with maqui berries (P<0.05). No side effects were reported. Hidalgo 2014 An open exploratory study was conducted in 36 prediabetic adults to determine the effects of an acute dose of Delphinol on postprandial blood glucose. Compared to controls, a single dose of Delphinol at 60 mg, 120 mg, and 180 mg produced a significant and dose-dependent decrease in fasting glucose and insulin levels within 60 minutes of administration. Additionally, a single 12 mg dose significantly reduced 30-minute postprandial blood glucose and insulin (P<0.05). Surprisingly, the delay in peak postprandial glycemia and insulinemia observed with lower doses of the maqui berry extract, was reversed with higher doses. And although glycemia peaks were lowered in a dose-dependent manner, insulinemia peaks were higher with the lowest dose and lower for the higher doses. These data suggest inhibition of intestinal glucose transporters and/or improvement in insulin sensitivity as possible mechanisms of action.Alvarado 2016
Antioxidant activity was demonstrated when 4 mL of maqui extract was diluted to approximately 200 mg/mL gallic acid equivalents.Wang 2012 Cardioprotective effects were demonstrated with methanol extract (10 mg/kg body weight) on acute ischemia/reperfusion performed in rat heart in vivo.Céspedes 2008 A standardized maqui berry extract (Delphinol) has been studied at 450 mg/day for antioxidant effects in overweight, light smokers.Davinelli 2015
The methanol and acetone partitions of the berry juice had the highest inhibitory activity against radical formation compared with concentration that inhibits 50% values of 4.7, 1.7, and 7.4 ppm, respectively. This action was greater than that of alpha-tocopherol, which at 31.6 ppm caused 53.8% quenching compared with 100% quenching found in the juice fractions.Céspedes 2010
Phenolic extracts of 100 mcmol/L (catechin 3-O-glucoside or epicatechin equivalents) were found to reduce lipids. A. chilensis showed the highest inhibitory effect at 61.8%.Schreckinger 2010
Pregnancy / Lactation
Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.
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