The Benefits and Uses of Camu Camu

Can this vitamin C-rich fruit keep you healthy?

camu camu
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Camu camu (Myrciaria dubia) is a vitamin C-rich fruit that is native to South America. Used locally in beverages and desserts, the berries are sour, so the puree or juice is typically added to sweetened dishes rather than consumed as a whole fruit.

Camu camu is also available as a dietary supplement in a number of different forms, including powder, juice, and capsules.

The seeds, skin, and pulp of camu camu have been found to be rich in vitamin C and a variety of antioxidants (including anthocyanins).

Uses for Camu Camu

Proponents claim that camu camu can boost the immune system and preserve eye health.

In addition, camu camu is purported to protect against acne, arthritis, atherosclerosis, cancer, cold sores, depression, diabetes, gum disease, herpes infection, and rosacea.

An oil enriched with camu camu is sometimes applied on hair as a hair oil or conditioner. Proponents claim that the hair oil can promote hair growth and guard against hair loss. It is also used in skin products, like face masks, creams, lotions, and moisturizers.

The Benefits of Camu Camu

There is currently a lack of clinical trials testing the health effects of camu camu. However, preliminary research suggests that camu camu may offer certain health benefits. Here's a look at some key study findings:

1) Inflammation

Camu camu may fight inflammation and oxidative stress, according to a small 2008 study from the Journal of Cardiology.

For the study, 20 male smokers consumed camu camu juice or took vitamin C tablets daily for seven days. At the end of the seven day period, those who took camu camu had a significant decrease in certain markers of inflammation and oxidative stress (a process that can damage molecules in cells and contribute to diseases and aging).

Those who took vitamin C, meanwhile, did not experience a decrease in these markers.

Related: Reduce Inflammation Naturally

2) Diabetes

Camu camu shows potential in the treatment of diabetes, a 2010 study from the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry suggests. In lab experiments, scientists found camu camu to contain high amounts of antioxidants and ellagic acid (a substance shown to offer antidiabetic effects in some research).

Related: Natural Treatments For Type 2 Diabetes

Side Effects

To date, very little is known about the possible adverse effects of camu camu consumption. However, there's some concern that camu camu may interact with drugs used in chemotherapy treatment.

In a case report published in 2013, a 45-year-old man was seen with itching, dark urine, fever, and vomiting and was found to have liver injury, which improved with time. Daily consumption of a supplement containing camu camu was considered the likely cause.

The Takeaway

Like other fruits with superfruit status (such as acai, acerola, amalaki, baobab, and moringa), camu camu is said to be rich in vitamin C and antioxidants. While eating these nutrients may help to boost health, camu camu usually costs more than your local fruit, and there's no evidence that taking it can prevent or treat any health condition.

Until there is more research confirming the health benefits of camu camu, you may be better off sticking with local, colorful fruit. Anthocyanin-rich fruit include blueberries, cranberries, blackberries, red and purple grapes, cherries, bilberries, and black currants.

Fruit sources of vitamin C include guava, papaya, kiwi fruit, oranges, strawberries, lychee, pineapple, and grapefruit.

If you're still thinking of trying camu camu supplements, be sure to consult your health care provider first to discuss whether it's right for you.

Sources:

Bertoli R, Mazzuchelli L, Cerny A. Acute hepatitis associated with the use of natural product camu-camu. Open J Gastroenterol 2013;3:214–216

De Souza Schmidt Gonçalves AE, Lajolo FM, Genovese MI. Chemical composition and antioxidant/antidiabetic potential of Brazilian native fruits and commercial frozen pulps. J Agric Food Chem. 2010 Apr 28;58(8):4666-74.

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.

Zanatta CF, Cuevas E, Bobbio FO, Winterhalter P, Mercadante AZ. Determination of anthocyanins from camu-camu (Myrciaria dubia) by HPLC-PDA, HPLC-MS, and NMR. J Agric Food Chem. 2005 Nov 30;53(24):9531-5.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

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