What is Camu Camu?

Camu Camu Fruit Powder

Camu camu, or Myrciaria dubia, is a fruit tree native to the Amazonian rain forest. It grows as a small shrub alongside the river and produces berries that resemble cherries. Like many other Amazonian fruits, camu camu has earned quite a bit of interest due to its active compounds, phytochemicals, and amino acids. The best offering of the camu camu fruit is usually identified as its extremely high amount of vitamin C, up to 2-3% of total weight. However, high vitamin C content is not the only quality camu camu has to offer.

Camu Camu for Vitamin C

Camu camu contains the most vitamin C of any plant in the world. Put it this way, oranges often have 1,000-3000 parts per million of vitamin C. The camu camu berry can reach concentrations up to 50,000 parts per million. Yes, you read that correctly, camu camu berries contain well over 10x the vitamin C concentration of oranges. The extreme amount of vitamin C in the camu camu berry has spawned very active discussions concerning potential benefits of vitamin C therapy. Certainly one of the most popular advocates in this regard is Dr. James Duke, who has authored a number of definitive books concerning herbs, superfruits, and rainforest botanicals. He has explored large-serving vitamin C therapy and its potential application for addressing symptoms of depression, degenerative diseases, immune system support, eyesight, and more. Vitamin C therapy is beyond the scope of this article but I’d encourage you to investigate his work, he has some very interesting ideas.

Camu Camu for Antioxidants

Oxidative stress can lead to the development of many diseases and using natural methods to reduce those markers is of great interest. The good news? The formal inquiries into camu camu have observed strong antioxidant action, yielding further support for the historical placement of camu camu in the category of Amazonian plants with health benefits.

The Laboratory of Nutraceuticals and Functional Foods Science at Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology in Japan conducted preliminary studies with mice and reported observing camu camu seed extract reduce oxidative stress and provide resistance to irritation. [1]

Additionally, Japan’s Saga University Faculty of Medicine evaluated the effect of camu-camu on 20 human males who smoked and had accelerated oxidative stress. After 7 days of consuming camu camu juice, oxidative stress decreased significantly and researchers concluded that camu-camu juice may be a powerful antioxidant. [2]

Supplementing With Camu Camu

Finding camu camu fruit is easy in Japan but can be very difficult in the United States. But, fear not, camu camu is available in powdered or extract form and it’s also an ingredient in many foods and supplements. Have you tried camu camu? What were your impressions? If you have some input on this interesting Brazilian fruit, please weigh in and leave a comment below!

- Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM

References:

  1. Yazawa K, Suga K, Honma A, Shirosaki M, Koyama T. Anti-inflammatory effects of seeds of the tropical fruit camu-camu (Myrciaria dubia). J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 2011;57(1):104-7.
  2. Inoue T, Komoda H, Uchida T, Node K. Tropical fruit camu-camu (Myrciaria dubia) has anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory properties. J Cardiol. 2008 Oct;52(2):127-32. doi: 10.1016/j.jjcc.2008.06.004. Epub 2008 Jul 29.

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