Camu Camu (Myrciaria dubia) is a bush in the Amazon rainforests of Brazil, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia, growing typically along rivers, or in swamps and flooded areas. Its berries are rich in nutrients, and have an incredibly high content of vitamin C (some tests have shown the berries can have as much as 2.3 g of vitamin C, per 100 g of berries). In addition to the high levels of vitamin C, Camu Camu have amino acids, phytochemicals and minerals.
Historically, the berries have been used for medicinal purposes by the indigenous people of the rainforests. Because the berries are so sour they were rarely eaten raw. Rather, they would be used in preparing other foods, and in the present, they are used in making jams and jellies as well as desserts.
Camu camu, being an intensely potent botanical source of vitamin C, as well as a tremendous source of amino acids and minerals, is believed by many to be effective in treating a wide range of problems, including shingles, cold sores, ginigivitis, osteoarthritis, diabetes, chronic fatigue and depression. South Americans have used camu camu successfully in treating Herpes Simplex and Eppstein-Barr viruses, thanks to the high vitamin C content which helps counteract stress that causes flare-ups. Rainforest peoples even make a hair tonic, to repair split ends and restore shine!
Despite the long history of camu camu’s medicinal use, it wasn’t until 1950 that the Ministry of Public Health in Peru accomplished the first nutritional analysis of the berry. It was this first study that revealed just how high its vitamin C content was.
The discovery of camu camu’s rich nutritional value created an international demand almost overnight. But the traditional methods of harvesting from canoes during the wet season made it difficult to bring to the world market. It took until the 1990’s to get to the point where camu camu became a viable commercial crop. Over the past years, the planting of camu camu trees has been part of a reforestation program sponsored by the Peruvian government, in hopes of increasing the export market along with conserving forests and establishing a healthier economy for local peoples.
These days, camu camu can be found in any number of products including multivitamins, energy drinks, sports drinks, candies and supplemental powder.
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For more information:
Antioxidant and Associated Capacities of Camu Camu (Myrciaria dubia): A Systematic Review
Tropical fruit camu-camu (Myrciaria dubia) has anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory properties.
Anti-inflammatory effects of seeds of the tropical fruit camu-camu (Myrciaria dubia).
Nutritional compositions and health promoting phytochemicals of camu-camu (myrciaria dubia) fruit: A review