Camu-camu infographic

Camu-camu Summary:

Camu-camu has the highest concentration of vitamin C out of any fruit in the world. Additionally, it contains the amino acids, vitamins, and minerals that promote the uptake of this vitamin C. Thus optimizing the vitamin C content further. 

Compared with oranges, which have roughly 500 - 4000 ppm vitamin C content, camu-camu has up to 500 000 ppm vitamin C content! Camu-camu also contains roughly 10 times more iron, 3 times more niacin, 2 times more riboflavin, and 50% more phosphorus than an orange. It's because of this high concentration of nutrients that camu-camu has seen a massive rise in popularity the world over.

In the Amazon rainforest where it originates, this fruit was actually not commonly eaten by the indigenous cultures due to its intense sour and acidic flavour. Due to modern advancements in plant processing techniques, however, we can turn this intense tasting fruit into a dried, concentrated powder and encapsulate it so that we don't have to taste its intense sour flavour in order to receive its nutritional benefits.

This concentrated extract is the most common form that camu-camu is currently found in, but can also be found in its raw fruit form in certain niche food shops. 


Herbal Actions:

  • Nutritious
  • Antioxidant
  • Dries secretions 

Botanical Name:

Myrciaria dubia

 

Family:

Myrtaceae

 

Part used:

Fruit (fresh is best)

camu camu.jpeg

Dosage

Fresh Fruit Juice (Succas)

250 ml (1 cup) 2-3 times/day

Tablets/Capsules

2-4 g/day

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Indications:

  • Scurvy
  • To boost immune function
  • Cold/flu

 

 


Common Names:

  • Rum berry

Traditional Uses:

Camu-camu is not usually used as a medicine in traditional amazonian medical systems, and in fact was not even often consumed as a food because of its highly  sour taste (from the vitamin C content) [4]. Only in recent years has camu-camu become popular and is commonly used to give a sour flavor to ice cream in the Jungle city of Iquitos Peru.


    Botanical Description:

    Camu-camu is the berry of a shrub found in the Amazon rainforest. It is low growing, reaching a height of 2-3m, and has large, feathery leaves. The fruit is light-orange in colour, and about the same size as a lemon. The fruit contains a rich source of vitamin C, which is what makes this fruit a popular health food product.

    It has been suggested that a stand of camu-camu in the Amazon forest is worth twice as much as is, than if it were to be cut down and used for cattle farming [4].


    Habitat Ecology, and Distribution:

    Still compiling research. 


    Harvesting Collection, and Preparation:

    The traditional method of harvesting is via canoes because the fruit generally ripens during the wet season when widespread flooding occurs throughout the rainforest [4].

    The vitamin C content in camu-camu, much like other natural vitamin C products, has a relatively low shelf life and is best consumed quickly.


    Constituents:

    Camu-camu has the highest concentration of vitamin C out of any fruit in the world. As compared to oranges, camu-camu has 30 times more vitamin C. It has been recorded that camu-camu has up to 2g of vitamin C per 100g. The total ascorbic acid (vitamin C) content of camu-camu is up to 500 000 ppm. The next fruit down, is another amazonian plant known as acerola, which has 16 000-172 000 ppm ascorbic acid content. Oranges have only 500-4000ppm. [4].

    Camu camu also offers a significant source of iron, niacin, riboflavin, phosphorous, potassium, and just so happens to contain all of the minerals and amino acids necessary for the uptake of vitamin C. [4].

    As with any form of vitamin C however, the shelf life is fairly low, even if frozen. It has been reported that the fruit may lose up to a quarter of its vitamin C content after a month of storage, frozen or not. The good thing about camu-camu however, is that the vitamin C content is so high, even with this loss it has a significant edge over more commonly used sources of vitamin C such as oranges and other fruits. [4].

    The volotile components of camu-camu includes alpha-pinene, d-limonene [4].
    Camu-camu also contains beta-carotene, calcium, leucine, protein, serine, thiamin, and valine [4].



    Pharmacology and Medical Research:

    Though there have not been any study done specifically on the medicinal effects of camu-camu, there has been plenty of research on the medicinal and nutritional effects of vitamin C.


    Toxicity and Contraindications:

    The side effects of excessive vitamin C intake includes diarrhea and other gastrointestinal disturbences.


    Cautions:

    High doses of vitamin C can cause gastrointestinal upset. 


    Synergy:

    Still compiling research.


    Author:

    Justin Cooke

    The Sunlight Experiment

    Updated: March 2017


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    References:

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    4. Taylor, L. (2005). The healing power of rainforest herbs: A guide to understanding and using herbal medicinals. Garden City Park, NY: Square One Publishers.

    5.  

    Harmonic Arts Botanical Dispensary

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