Buah Merah and Papuan People
by Mathelda Kurniaty Roreng, S.TP, M.Si and Toshiaki Nishigaki, Ph.D
Safety of Buah Merah
We speculate that Papuan people have been utilizing Buah Merah as the best source of fruit oil and micro-nutrients such as carotenoids and vitamin E until the present time for at least 30,000 years since they immigrated at the highlands of Papua, though they do not know what functional and active ingredients in Buah Merah are.
It can be said that their long time history and experiences of dietary use of Buah Merah can prove it very safe.
In addition to empirical reports, we investigated its safety as well as cooking and eating procedures on site in Baliem valley.
Each family plants several Buah Merah trees at the garden and/or vicinity of house and collect one ripen reddish fruit and cook and make Buah Merah Pasta as mentioned in the above.
Buah Merah trees have never been sprayed with pesticides and given synthetic fertilizers, but cultivated in purely natural way. One fruit was enough to serve for more than 10 persons’ meals.
Roughly computing, the individuals intake 10~20 g at one time in Buah Merah oil basis, as about 200 g of Buah Merah oil is collected from one fruit.
The Pasta is a mixture of cellular matrix including entire fruit components.
The fibrous layer underlying the flesh was penetrated with Buah Merah oil and the people took even this part.
We heard that nobody experienced carotenodermia and any other untoward events.
There are no reports on significantly higher-rated or abnormal adverse events associated with Buah Merah, according to Papuan native people and health authorities so far we investigated.
Buah Merah oil is extracted from cellular matrix of Buah Merah fruit.
Acute and sub-acute toxicity studies of Buah Merah oil were conducted using Sprague Dawley rats by oral administration according to OECD guidelines by M&K Laboratories Inc.
Acute toxicity was not found at 2 ml/kg bodyweight of Buah Merah oil.
In the sub-acute test, 0.1, 0.3 and 1 mL/kg bodyweight of the test substance were given to the rats for 28 days, but no untoward findings caused by the test substance were reported (10).
The mutagenicity study of Buah Merah oil disclosed no mutagenicity in base-pair substitution and frameshift types (11).
It is noticed that Buah Merah oil has been produced by paying most attention to hygiene, by considering the principles of international standards at the near site of Buah Merah cultivation areas, Wamena of Baliem valley. According to internal data of M&K Laboratories Inc., no pathogenic microorganisms are contaminated in Buah Merah oil.
The production method with possible modifications was applied for approval for patent by M&K Laboratories and CABI to Japan Patent Office in 2012.
According to above-mentioned nutritional data, pro-vitamin A carotenoids are concerned in safety issues.
The Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University in USA well-summarizes the safety of carotenoids (12), showing that high dose of beta-carotene (up to 180 mg/day) have been used to treat erythropoietic protoporphyria without toxic side effects. 30 mg/day or more of beta-carotene supplements and the consumption of large amount of carotene-rich foods have resulted in a yellow discoloration of the skin (carotenodermia).
The risks of high-dose beta-carotene supplementation (20~30 mg/day) outweigh any potential benefits for chronic disease prevention, especially in smokers or other high-risk populations.
There is no reason to limit the consumption of carotenoid-rich fruits and vegetables during pregnancy.
Pregnant and breast-feeding women should avoid consuming more than 3 mg/day of beta-carotene from supplements.
University of Indonesia and Bandung Institute of Technology, Indonesia promise that Buah Merah oil dosage of 3 x 1 tablespoon per day (15 mL x 3 = 45 mL/day) is safe (12).
Safety of beta-cryptoxanthin has not been established, so far we examined. Beta-cryptoxanthin is naturally contained at contents of 3.6 mg and 0.4 mg per 1 cup (200 mL) in cooked pumpkin and fresh orange juice, respectively (12).
Buah Merah oil is comparable with natural fruit and its analysis results reveal that the contents of beta-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin are about 5 mg/100g (0.05 mg/g) each (13).
One (1) mL/kg of rat bodyweight/day (60 mL or 54 g/60 kg human bodyweight) in 28 days consecutive administration does not show any toxic side effects (10).
Preliminary pharmacokinetic study of Buah Merah capsule form of oil showed that beta-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin were relatively rapidly absorbed into blood of human subjects (14).
From these facts and history of use of Buah Merah by Papuan people, we can conclude that Buah Merah oil is very safe and the dose of 10 g/day may not cause any side-effects in human.
In order to maintain health conditions and intake micronutrients, especially beta-cryptoxanthin from Buah Merah oil, it is recommended to receive 2 g/day in healthy persons, because average daily intake of beta-cryptoxanthin in American population is reported as 104 μg/day (15).
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