Second Opinion

Dear Dr. Gott: I am hoping you can address the following in your column, as lots of people in Pennsylvania and New York (and other states, as well, I am sure) are counting on your advice.
I have recently come across a “juice” called MonaVie. It is made from the acai berry from the Amazon and is made in Utah. It claims to have 19 fruits in it and is supposedly all natural with no preservatives. I have enclosed a newsletter I received about it that says it is loaded with antioxidants and glucosamine. It is advertised as a remedy for arthritis, muscles aches, joint pain and, of course, to ward off some cancers and much more. Please help.
Dear Dr. Gott: My wife was convinced by the ladies at the pool that MonaVie is the best thing this side of the river (and probably the other side, too!) for reducing cholesterol, etc., and that we should get started on it right away. I am concerned about the safety and possible side effects. What can you tell us about it?
Dear Readers: Your letters are just a sampling of many I have received over the last several weeks regarding this supposed “superfood” juice. I am unfamiliar with this product, so I will base my answer on an information packet and several pamphlets.
The packet is from the AIBMR Life Sciences Inc. natural and medicinal products research institute, which claims to have done a clinical study on MonaVie. As you would expect, the results show that the juice is beneficial when taken regularly.
Included was a four-page list of “approved claims.” (Many are as simple as “glucosamine helps promote joint mobility, health and function,” which are not product specific.) Whether this juice is actually beneficial is unclear. However, 100 percent fruit juices in general are good for the body because they are essentially providing the benefits of the actual fruit.
The packet also contained a “frequently asked questions” section, and, in several areas, it repeated similar sentiments. It advises people to consult a physician before taking it and that it is not intended to prevent, treat or cure any disease or medical condition. I find the fact that this is put in print quite responsible.
If a person wants to drink this juice, go ahead. But drink it because you like it, not because you think you won’t get cancer if you do so. Until double-blind, placebo-controlled studies are done by independent, third-party research firms that publish their findings in peer-reviewed journals, don’t believe everything you hear.
In the end, this juice may be a fad. I have received similar information regarding a number of products that appear to be popular for a year or two and then fade into the background.
To give you related information, I am sending you copies of my Health Report “Understanding Cholesterol,” “Managing Chronic Pain” and “Osteoarthritis.” Other readers who would like copies should send a self-addressed, stamped No. 10 envelope and $2 per report to Newsletter, PO Box 167, Wickliffe, OH 44092. Be sure to mention the title(s).