Acai Berry Research
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 acai 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 animals 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 acai, 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.
Because acai berries are quite perishable, most of the world does not have access to fresh berries. There is some speculation that the method of handling (shipping and processing) acai berries might significantly affect their antioxidant capacity. Depending on the particular way the berries are handled, and the particular form in which they are consumed, studies in humans might show drastically different results. This is a potential source for problems in future studies.
There is little evidence to show that acai 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 acai should be viewed with skepticism -- or, at the very least, with caution -- until more research is available.