Compilation by Armando Gonzalez Stuart, PhD.
Other Common Name:
Where is it found?
Camu-camu is a small native tree of the Amazon region (mainly Peru, Venezuela, Ecuador, Colombia, and Brazil), although limited information exists as to the traditional uses of the plant in that region (Duke et al., 2008, Mabberley, 2017).
Parts of the plant used:
Leaves, fruits, and seeds
How is it used?
The juice of the fruit is commonly taken as a fermented drink, as well as a nutritional supplement or “nutraceutical”. Capsules are also available in health food stores.
What is it used for?
Since the fruit contains many antioxidant compounds, it could be helpful in the prevention of various chronic and degenerative diseases. However, more controlled human studies are needed to ascertain this.
Camu camu is a one of the richest sources of natural vitamin C (2.4 to 3.0 g/100 g in the fruit pulp) in the plant kingdom (Justi et al., 2000), and is also a source of various antioxidant compounds including anthocyanins (Zanatta et al., 2005; Franco and Shibamoto, 2000). The leaves contain ellagic acid as well as other antioxidant (and potentially anti-carcinogenic) compounds (Ueda et al., 2004).
Oxidative stress as well as inflammation plays a crucial role in the development of atherosclerosis (formation of plaque within the arteries), which is directly related to heart disease. Various antioxidant compounds present in camu camu may help to stave off the effects of various chronic and degenerative diseases linked to oxidative stress and inflammation, such as arthritis, diabetes, some types of cancer, and cardiovascular problems (Reynertson et al., 2008; Langley et al., 2015).
Results from clinical studies undertaken with human subjects in order to evaluate the anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory properties of camu-camu showed that the juice may have powerful anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory properties, compared to vitamin C tablets containing equivalent vitamin C content. These effects may be due to the effects of unknown anti-oxidant substances besides vitamin C or unknown substances modulating in vivo vitamin C kinetics in camu-camu fruit (Inoue et al., 2008).
In a study evaluating various Brazilian native fruit juices and their free radical scavenging (antioxidant) properties, camu camu was shown to reduce postprandial hyperglycemia. The researchers stated that the bioactive ingredients found in various Brazilian fruits, including camu camu, could be a potential source for products to reduce Type 2 diabetes risk (Balisteiro et al., 2017).
A study undertaken by Akachi et al. (2010) evaluated the protective effects of camu camu as well as various other fruit juices against D-galactosamine (GalN)-induced liver injury. The juices were orally administered to rats for a period of one week. Afterward, liver injury was produced by injecting the rodents with GalN. The findings suggested that camu-camu juice significantly suppressed GalN-induced liver injury when the degree of hepatic insult was evaluated by the activity of liver enzymes (plasma alanine aminotransferase and aspartate aminotransferase). An active compound was isolated from camu-camu juice and was designated as 1-methylmalate. The authors suggested that 1-methylmalate is a somewhat specific compound present among organic acids and their derivatives in fruit juices, which could diminish GalN-induced hepatic injury.
The seeds of the plant can also have medicinal value as research findings showed that a camu-camu methanol seed extract could be a potentially useful material as a source of betulinic acid, as well as a functional food for prevention of immune-related diseases (Yazawa et al., 2011).
Safety / Precautions
- The safety of using products made from this plant (either internally or externally) during pregnancy and lactation has not been established.
Before you decide to take any medicinal herb or herbal supplement, be sure to consult with your health care professional first. Avoid self-medication: Always be on the safe side!
Akachi T, Shiina Y, Kawaguchi T, Kawagishi H, Morita T, Sugiyama K. 1-methylmalate from camu-camu (Myrciaria dubia) suppressed D-galactosamine-induced liver injury in rats.
Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2010;74(3):573-8. Balisteiro DM, Araujo RL, Giacaglia LR, Genovese MI. Effect of clarified Brazilian native fruit juices on postprandial glycemia in healthy subjects. Food Res Int. 2017;100(Pt 2):196-203. doi: 10.1016/j.foodres.2017.08.044.
Duke J, Bogenschutz M, Ottesen, A. Medicinal Plants of Latin America. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 2008; pp. 471-472. J Cardiol. 2008 Oct;52(2):127-32. Epub 2008 Jul 29. Links
Franco MR, Shibamoto T. Volatile composition of some Brazilian fruits: umbu-caja (Spondias citherea), camu-camu (Myrciaria dubia), Araça-boi (Eugenia stipitata), and Cupuaçu (Theobroma grandiflorum). J Agric Food Chem. 2005;53(24):9531-5.
Inoue T, Komoda H, Uchida T, Node K. Tropical fruit camu-camu (Myrciaria dubia) has anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory properties. Arch Latinoam Nutr. 2000;50(4):405-8.
Justi KC, Visentainer JV, Evelázio de Souza N, Matsushita M. Nutritional composition and vitamin C stability in stored camu-camu (Myrciaria dubia) pulp. J Agric Food Chem. 2000 ;48(4):1263-5.
Langley PC, Pergolizzi JV Jr, Taylor R Jr, Ridgway C. Antioxidant and associated capacities of Camu camu (Myrciaria dubia): a systematic review. J Altern Complement Med. 2015;21(1):8-14.10.1089/acm.2014.0130.
Mabberley DJ. Mabberley’s Plant Book 4th ed. London: Cambridge University Press; 2017; p. 609.
Reynertson KA, Yang H, Jiang B, Basile MJ, Kennelly EJ. Quantitative analysis of antiradical phenolic constituents from fourteen edible Myrtaceae fruits. Food Chem. 2008;109(4):883-890.
Ueda H, Kuroiwa E, Tachibana Y, Kawanishi K, Ayala F, Moriyasu M. Aldose reductase inhibitors from the leaves of Myrciaria dubia (H. B. & K.)McVaugh. Phytomedicine. 2004 ;11(7-8):652-6.
Yazawa K, Suga K, Honma A, Shirosaki M, Koyama T. Anti-inflammatory effects of seeds of the tropical fruit camu-camu (Myrciaria dubia).J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 2011;5 7(1):104-7.
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. Phytomedicine. 2004;11(7-8):652-6.