Camu Camu is a small, 3-5 metre,shrubby tree that grows along riverbanks within the Amazon Rainforest.It has bushy feathery foliage, small flowers with waxy white petals and a sweet-smelling aroma, and its fruits are light orange in colour and about the size of a lemon.Camu Camu plants flower at the end of the dry season and fruit at the peak of the rainy season. Fortunately, Camu Camu is extremely tolerant of flooding, withstanding four to five months of the year with its roots and much of its aerial parts submerged in water. Because Camu Camu fruits mature during the flooding season they are wild-harvested by the local indigenous peoples in their canoes.
Common Name: Camu Camu
Botanical Name: Myrciaria dubia
Common Names: Cacari, Camocamo, Guayabo, Guayabato
Growing Area: Peru, Brazil, Colombia, and Venezuela
Camu Camu fruit contains one of the highest recorded amounts of natural vitamin C known on the planet(2800mg of vitamin C per 100 grams), second only to the Kakadu Plum(3100 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams).Camu Camufruit comes with the full complement of minerals and amino acids that our bodies need to absorb its vitamin C and is packed with other nutrients.Its fruit contains 30 times more vitamin C compared to oranges(only 54mg of vitamin C per 100 grams), 3 times more niacin, 10 times more iron, double the amount of riboflavin and 50% more phosphorus and for each kilogram of fruit there are 711 mg of potassium.
Three amino acids, valine, leucine, and serine, and antioxidant flavonoids along with ellagic acid and gallic acid are found in Camu Camu fruit.It’s also a source of the phytochemicals beta-carotene, calcium, thiamin, d-limonone and alpha-pinene.
Camu Camu fruit can be used as an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-depressant, anti-viral, as a nutritive, and an astringent.
Because of its sour, acidic taste, which is due to its high vitamin C content, Camu Camufruit was not widely eaten as a traditional food, even though it was easily transportable, available,and nutritious. Very occasionally the local people would suck the fruit, usually when they were very thirsty, because at times, the flooded black waters where Camu Camu grows weren’t drinkable. More often the fruit was used as fish bait for Gamitana fish that are common in the stands of semi submerged Camu Camu.
As a traditional medicine, Camu Camu fruit was used for pain relief, to fight infections, and an infusion of the bark or stem was used to treat diabetes. Its tree bark was used in a decoction to treat rheumatism and a poultice from the bark was used topically to treat wounds.
In the early 1990’s the importance of Camu Camufruit as a source of natural vitamin C for South American urban populations and for export was recognized. Its high levels of natural vitamin C boost the immune system and studies suggest that it is the combination of hundreds of natural compounds found in Camu Camu, including bioflavonoids that have such a potent beneficial effect on the body compared to synthetic vitamin C.
The bioflavonoids in Camu Camu, which include anthocyanins, can help lower both cholesterol and high blood pressure, and neutralize harmful free radicals, which contribute to chronic diseases.Ellagic acid also has antioxidant properties and is being studied both for its anti-cancer and anti-diabetes effects. Gallic acid acts as an antifungal compound and as an antiviral attacking cold sores, herpes and shingles.Valineis needed for muscle tissue, the nervous system and cognitive functions supporting its traditional documented use as a mental pick me up. Luciene supports muscle and bone tissue growth, recovery and the production of growth hormones while serine helps the body digest proteins.
Since the 1970’s Camu Camu fruits have become popular in several cities in the Amazon Rainforest, where they are made into sweetened juices, smoothies and ice creams.