Camu-camu (Myriciaria dubia)

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Camu-Camu Summary

Camu-camu contains the highest concentration of vitamin C out of any plant in the world. It has roughly 1000 times as much vitamin C as an orange, 10 times the iron, and 3 times the niacin.

Unfortunatly, due to the rapid breakdown of vitamin C, camu-camus are not a mainstream fruit outside of South America. The dried, powdered fruit can be used, but has a short shelf life before most of the vitamin C content has been broken down. This is why it is important to only purchase the freshest camu-camu powder available, and only from reputable sources.

 

+ Indications

  • Scurvy
  • To boost immune function
  • Cold/flu
  • Adrenal fatigue

+ Contraindications

  • May cause gastrointestinal discomfort in some individuals due to the high vitamin C content.

Herbal Actions:

  • Nutritive
  • Antioxidant
  • Diuretic
  • Mucolytic
 

What Is CamuCamu Used For?

Camu-camu is mainly used for its high vitamin C content. It is used as a supplement for strengthening the immune system, improving blood production, wound healing, and supporting natural growth.

 

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.

 

Weekly Dose

Part Used

Fruit

Family Name

Myrtaceae

Distribution

South America (Amazon Rainforest)

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Constituents of Interest

  • Vitamin C
  • Other vitamins
  • Trace minerals

Common Names

  • Camu-camu
  • Rum berry
  • Araca D'Agua
  • Araza de Agua
  • Cacari
  • Guapuro Blanco

CYP450

  • Unknown

Quality

  • Unknown

Pregnancy

  • Unknown

Taste

  • Unknown

Duration of Use

  • Long ter use acceptable.
 

Botanical Information

Camu-camu is a member of the Myrtaceae family of plants. Other members of this family include bay rum, clove, guava, allspice, eucalyptus, and myrtle. All of which are well known for their essential oil content.

The Myrtaceae family contains roughly 5950 species, distributed into 132 genera.

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].

 

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.

 

Pharmacology & 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.

 

Clinical Applications Of Camu-Camu:

The incredibly potent supply of vitamin C from Camu-camu makes it useful for nearly any application in which vitamin C is desired. Many use it to strengthen the immune system during infection or as a prophylaxis.

 

Phytochemistry

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].

 

Cautions:

High doses of vitamin C can cause gastrointestinal upset.

 

Author:

Justin Cooke, BHSc

The Sunlight Experiment

(Updated: November 2017)

 

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References:

For a list of references, visit the full camu-camu monograph.