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Kiwi (Actinidia deliciosa, Actinidia chinensis)
Natural Standard Bottom Line Monograph, Copyright © 2011 (www.naturalstandard.com). Commercial distribution prohibited. This monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. You should consult with a qualified healthcare provider before making decisions about therapies and/or health conditions.
While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.
Actinidia arguta, Actinidia chinensis L., Actinidia coriacea, Actinidia kolomikta, Actinidia melanandra, Actinidia polygama, Actinidia purpurea, Actinidia sinensis planch (ASP), Actinidiaceae, actinidin, Chinese egg gooseberry, China gooseberry, Chinese gooseberry, diethyl succinate, goat peach, hairy pear, hardy kiwi, hexyl hexanoate, kivi, kiivi, kiwi fruit, macaque peach, nonanal, octane, profilin, purple kiwi, red kiwi, silver vine, thiol-proteases, yang-tao.
The kiwi fruit initially comes from China, but is now produced in New Zealand, the United States, Italy, South Africa and Chile.
Kiwi is rich in vitamins C and E, serotonin and potassium and is purported to have antioxidant activity. Kiwi fruit is also known to have the highest density of vitamin C for any fruit, and is low in fat with no cholesterol. Claimed benefits of kiwi fruit, however, may be overshadowed by the growing number of reports of allergy.
Kiwi has been used preventatively to protect against respiratory illness, increase lung function and increase cardiovascular (heart) health.
Currently, there are no well-designed clinical trials regarding the efficacy of kiwi fruit; however, additional research may be warranted to investigate its use in prevention of respiratory conditions and in energy enhancement.
These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
One study suggests that a kiwi-containing drink has beneficial effects on athletic performance. However, methodological weaknesses in this study preclude making any firm conclusions regarding kiwi's effectiveness at this time.
Respiratory problems (prevention)
Currently data on the therapeutic benefit of kiwi as a preventative for lung conditions is lacking. One survey study suggests that kiwi and other fruits high in vitamin C may have a protective effect on lung conditions in children, especially wheezing. However, properly controlled studies are lacking at this time. More research is warranted before a recommendation can be made.
*Key to grades:
A: Strong scientific evidence for this use;
B: Good scientific evidence for this use;
C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use;
D: Fair scientific evidence against this use (it may not work);
F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likely does not work).
The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious and should be evaluated by a qualified health care professional.
- Antibacterial, antifungal, antioxidant, asthma, ATP-synthesis increase, cancer prevention, cardiovascular health, cell proliferation, collagen synthesis of fibroblasts, cytotoxic activity, digestion, HIV, increasing proliferation, lung function, mitochondrial diseases, skin conditions.
The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.
Adults (over 18 years old)
There is no proven effective dose for kiwi. As an antioxidant, doses between 150 and 500 milliliters of kiwi fruit juice have been used. For cardiovascular health, two or three kiwi fruits per day for 28 days have been studied. For energy enhancement, doses between 500 and 1,200 milliliters of kiwi fruit juice (Actinidia sinensis planch, ASP) have been studied.
Children (under 18 years old)
One study reported beneficial effects on wheezing and other respiratory conditions in children from consuming between one and seven kiwi fruits per week.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.
Kiwi allergy is one of the more common allergies among fruits and caution is advised. There are numerous reports of allergy and cross-sensitization with kiwi and birch pollen, banana, avocado, chestnut, melon, fig, nuts, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, rye grain, hazelnuts, flour, latex-containing plants, and grasses. Asthma, rash, "hives," swelling and anaphylaxis have been reported.
Side Effects and Warnings
The most common adverse effect is allergy to kiwi, which may or may not clinically manifest in symptoms ranging from local mouth irritation to anaphylaxis. Urticaria ("hives") and angioedema (swelling) due to allergy, and allergic contact dermatitis have been reported. Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS), which includes itching and tingling with or without edema (swelling) of the lips, mouth, and tongue has been observed after consuming kiwi. Acute pancreatitis has also been reported.
Kiwi is known to have high levels of vitamin C, E, potassium and serotonin and may be capable of altering triglyceride levels. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dysphagia (difficulty swallowing), and collapse have also been reported.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Kiwi is not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women due to a lack of available scientific evidence.
Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.
Interactions with Drugs
Based on preliminary laboratory data, kiwi may have antifungal activity and therefore have an additive effect when taken with other antifungals.
Kiwi may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with drugs that increase the risk of bleeding. Some examples include aspirin, anticoagulants ("blood thinners") such as warfarin (Coumadin®) or heparin, anti-platelet drugs such as clopidogrel (Plavix®), and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®) or naproxen (Naprosyn®, Aleve®).
Kiwi has a high serotonin concentration. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) alter the levels of serotonin in the body usually by increasing them. Therefore, theoretically, kiwi and SSRIs may have a synergistic effect on serotonin levels.
Consumption of kiwi fruit may lower blood triglycerides.
Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements
Based on preliminary data, kiwi may have antifungal activity and therefore have an additive effect when taken with other antifungals.
Based on preliminary data, kiwi may have antioxidant activity and therefore have an additive effect when taken with other antioxidants.
In theory, kiwi may increase the risk of bleeding when also taken with other products that are believed to increase the risk of bleeding. Multiple cases of bleeding have been reported with the use of Ginkgo biloba, and fewer cases with garlic and saw palmetto. Numerous other agents may theoretically increase the risk of bleeding, although this has not been proven in most cases.
Substantial amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin are present in kiwi fruit. Caution is advised when taking lutein supplements.
Theoretically, kiwi may have an effect on the amount of potassium in the body because kiwi is rich in potassium.
Theoretically, kiwi is associated with an increased amount of serotonin. Kiwi plus herbs/supplements that alter serotonin levels may have an effect on the levels of serotonin in the body.
Consumption of kiwi fruit may lower blood triglycerides.
Kiwi may increase the amount of vitamin C in the body because this fruit is rich in vitamin C. Based on urinary measurements, vitamin C status improved in athletes supplemented with Actinidia sinensis planch drink in one study.
Theoretically, kiwi may have an effect on the amount of vitamin E in the body because kiwi is rich in vitamin E.
This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).
Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.
- Aleman A, Sastre J, Quirce S, et al. Allergy to kiwi: a double-blind, placebo-controlled food challenge study in patients from a birch-free area. J.Allergy Clin.Immunol. 2004;113(3):543-550. View Abstract
- Chen L, Lucas JS, Hourihane JO, et al. Evaluation of IgE binding to proteins of hardy (Actinidia arguta), gold (Actinidia chinensis) and green (Actinidia deliciosa) kiwifruits and processed hardy kiwifruit concentrate, using sera of individuals with food allergies to green kiwifruit. Food Chem Toxicol 2006;44(7):1100-1107. View Abstract
- Deters AM, Schroder KR, Hensel A. Kiwi fruit (Actinidia chinensis L.) polysaccharides exert stimulating effects on cell proliferation via enhanced growth factor receptors, energy production, and collagen synthesis of human keratinocytes, fibroblasts, and skin equivalents. J Cell Physiol 2005;202(3):717-722. View Abstract
- Fiocchi A, Restani P, Bernardo L, et al. Tolerance of heat-treated kiwi by children with kiwifruit allergy. Pediatr.Allergy Immunol. 2004;15(5):454-458. View Abstract
- Hemmer W, Focke M, Gotz M, et al. Sensitization to Ficus benjamina: relationship to natural rubber latex allergy and identification of foods implicated in the Ficus-fruit syndrome. Clin.Exp.Allergy 2004;34(8):1251-1258. View Abstract
- Ko SH, Choi SW, Ye SK, et al. Comparison of the antioxidant activities of nine different fruits in human plasma. J Med Food 2005;8(1):41-46. View Abstract
- Lucas JS, Grimshaw KE, Collins K, et al. Kiwi fruit is a significant allergen and is associated with differing patterns of reactivity in children and adults. Clin.Exp.Allergy 2004;34(7):1115-1121. View Abstract
- Machado M, Sant'anna C, Aires V, Rodrigues PP, et al. [Latex and banana allergies in children with myelomeningocele in the city of Rio de Janeiro]. Rev Assoc Med Bras. 2004;50(1):83-86. View Abstract
- Oppel T, Thomas P, Wollenberg A. Cross-sensitization between poppy seed and buckwheat in a food-allergic patient with poppy seed anaphylaxis. Int Arch Allergy Immunol 2006;140(2):170-173. View Abstract
- Pradalier A, Leriche E, Trinh Ch et al. [The return of the prodigal child or allergy to ficus]. Allerg.Immunol.(Paris) 2004;36(9):326-329. View Abstract
- Rodriguez J, Crespo JF, Burks W, et al. Randomized, double-blind, crossover challenge study in 53 subjects reporting adverse reactions to melon (Cucumis melo). J Allergy Clin.Immunol. 2000;106(5):968-972. View Abstract
- Suli C, Parziale M, Lorini M, et al. Prevalence and risk factors for latex allergy: a cross sectional study on health-care workers of an Italian hospital. J Investig.Allergol.Clin.Immunol. 2004;14(1):64-69. View Abstract
- Taylor JS, Erkek E. Latex allergy: diagnosis and management. Dermatol.Ther. 2004;17(4):289-301. View Abstract
- Thomas L, Low C, Webb C, et al. Naturally occurring fruit juices dislodge meat bolus obstruction in vitro. Clin.Otolaryngol.Allied Sci. 2004;29(6):694-697. View Abstract
- Valls A, Pascual CY, Caballero MT, et al. [Latex allergy]. Allergol.Immunopathol.(Madr.) 2004;32(5):295-305. View Abstract
Copyright © 2011 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)
The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.