Camu camu (Myrciaria dubia) is a natural substance said to offer various health benefits. A plant native to South America, camu camu produces berries thought to be rich in vitamin C. However, very few scientific studies have tested the health effects of camu camu.
Why Do People Use Camu Camu?
Proponents claim that camu camu can boost the immune system, aid in skin care, and preserve eye health. In addition, camu camu is purported to protect against the following health problems:
Camu camu is touted as a top source of vitamin C, an antioxidant vitamin often used to strengthen the immune system. Although there is limited research on camu camu's vitamin C content, findings from some laboratory studies indicate that camu camu pulp contains a high amount of vitamin C.
There's also some evidence that camu camu may be high in anthocyanins, another type of antioxidant.
Health 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:
Camu camu may fight inflammation and oxidative stress, according to a 2008 study from the Journal of Cardiology. For the study, 20 male smokers either drank camu camu juice or took vitamin C tablets every day for a week. At the end of the treatment period, members of the camu camu group showed a significant decrease in certain markers of inflammation and oxidative stress. Members of the vitamin C group, meanwhile, did not experience a decrease in these markers.
Camu camu shows potential in the treatment of diabetes, a 2010 study from the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry shows. 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).
Camu camu is available in a number of different forms, including powder, juice, and capsules. Since camu camu has a very sour flavor, the berries are not typically consumed as a whole food.
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 treatments.
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.
Justi KC, Visentainer JV, Evelázio de Souza N, Matsushita M. "Nutritional composition and vitamin C stability in stored camu-camu (Myrciaria dubia) pulp." Arch Latinoam Nutr. 2000 Dec;50(4):405-8.
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. "Camu-camu". May 2011.
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.