- Camu Camu
A small bushy tree, camu camu (botanical name Myrciaria dubia) is native to the Amazon rainforest in Brazil and Peru. Found along the riverside, camu camu grows up to a height of approximately 3 meters to 5 meters and bears reddish-purple fruits similar to a cherry. This species is closely associated with the jaboticaba (botanical name Myrciaria cauliflora) as well as the rum berry or guava berry (botanical name Myrciaria floribunda). The fruits of this tree contain very high levels of vitamin C (the fresh fruit encloses about 2 percent to 3 percent of the nutrient). This particular attribute of camu camu has made the herb extremely popular in the international markets.
Camu camu bears tiny flowers having waxy white-hued petals and possesses a sweet aroma. The tree has luxuriant and downy foliage. Camu camu is an evergreen tree that produces opposite leaves, whose shape varies from elliptic to lance-like. Each leaf of the tree is about 3 cm to 20 cm long and 1 cm to 2 cm wide.
Herbal as well as food supplements containing camu camu fruit extracts are becoming popular fast, as more and more people are using this substance to enhance their health as well as avoid the consequences of different diseases. In fact, these days, several people are seeking natural or artificial means to lessen the symptoms of several health disorders that are increasing by the day owing to poor diet, detrimental lifestyle preferences and nervous tension. A camu camu fruit was recently found in Peru’s tropical rainforests, which contains potent antioxidants as well as several other healthy attributes.
This tree is native to the deep rainforests in the Amazon. This fruit is said to contain very elevated levels of a powerful vitamin C form, in addition to a number of phytochemicals. Camu camu has been traditionally used for various therapeutic purposes, including in the form of antioxidant, astringent, anti-inflammatory and other agents.
Since the fruit of camu camu tree contains very high levels of vitamin C, it has a propensity to be extremely sour. Locals in places where this tree is cultivated blend the camu camu fruit with milk and sugar and use it for preparing ice cream, juices and jellies. As the fruit contains high levels of flavonoids, it is also a very potent antioxidant. In addition, camu camu encloses many amino acids as well as B vitamins, as a result of which this fruit offers an assortment of health benefits. While scientists are yet to study this fruit extensively, researchers who are examining the therapeutic attributes of this rare fruit are discovering medicinal properties that are beneficial for our health – much more than what is provided by simply ingesting vitamin C.
Camu camu encloses a form of vitamin C, which is absorbed by our body more easily, as it is a plant-based vitamin C, different from the vitamin C available in tablet form. Till recently, very few people in the United States were familiar with camu camu. However, this fruit has always remained popular in several regions of Asia. Camu camu encloses 50 times more vitamin C compared to oranges. Thanks to its very high vitamin C content, this fruit is believed to be helpful for oral health, especially the gums. The other attributes of camu camu make it beneficial for the health of the skin and eyes. In addition, people using camu camu have claimed that the fruit also offered a number of other health benefits, counting anti-inflammatory, anti-depressant, anti-viral and also as a hair vitalizing tonic.
Although camu camu contains several substances, scientists are yet to examine them extensively. While the scientists are still not sure why the fruit is so beneficial, the fact is that camu camu has demonstrated surprising possibilities of balancing the brain chemistry as well as moods. It is assumed that the high levels of vitamin C in camu camu may supply the brain with adequate nourishment. However, this theory is yet to be proved. The phytochemicals in camu camu are believed to enhance the serotonin levels in the brain. Some people also believe that the elevated levels of B vitamins in the fruit may also have a vital role in this regard. However, one thing is obvious – adequate vitamin C levels are necessary to promote the health of the nervous system. Camu camu also provides us with much more vitamin C compared to oranges. Appropriate vitamin C levels are necessary for supporting superior memory, reduced anxiety and depression as well as a clearer vision. Some people using this fruit have claimed that following the consumption of camu camu for prolonged periods, they required reduced amounts of synthetically-prepared anti-depression medicines.
Camu camu also offers several other health benefits. For instance, it works to protect the brain from the effects of various aggressive neurodegenerative diseases. The brain of people who consume camu camu berries on a regular basis not only functions to its fullest, but this fruit also ensures that the optimum functioning of the brain would continue to their entire lifetime. Consumption of camu camu berries may help to prevent a number of diseases related to the functioning of the brain, for instance, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and dementia.
It is worth mentioning here that the natives of South America have discovered a particular health benefit from consuming camu camu berries – this nutritious fruit is a very potent anti-viral. Even people suffering from Eppstein-Bar and Herpes Simplex viruses and using this fruit regularly have experienced reduced flare-ups caused by these pathogens. Some people have also asserted that consuming camu camu berries has also been useful in reducing the harshness of shingles caused by Varicella virus. The viruses mentioned here have the potential of flaring up time and again whenever an individual is under stress. Moreover, intake of high levels of vitamin C also facilitates the body in addressing stressful periods, thereby, lessening the flare-ups of herpes viruses.
It is interesting to note that the various nutrients contained by this fruit are not the sole reason for the growing popularity of camu camu. In reality, many people generally look for camu camu, as it encloses very high levels of vitamin C. As many people now hold the beneficial effects of this super fruit in high esteem, they do not rely much on the various vitamin C supplements produced and marketed by the different pharmaceutical companies.
Findings of various scientific studies related to camu camu have shown that vitamin C enclosed by this fruit actually has a beneficial effect on the body of people who consume it regularly. People who have been consuming this fruit on a regular basis have vouched that their body became more vigorous and lively. In addition, they also claimed that their depressed moods were also lifted following the consumption of this fruit. This, in fact, is one good effect of consuming camu camu. What is more important is that this fruit encloses vitamin C, which has found to be very helpful in strengthening our immune system, thereby protecting us from various diseases and health conditions. When the immune system is reinforced, we will be free from a number of health conditions like common colds and flu, while the body will be protected from various other types of infections.
Vitamin C is extremely beneficial for our health, especially as far as prevention of specific forms of chronic ailments are concerned, especially those that occur owing to a weak immune system. Dissimilar to the artificially prepared vitamin C tablets or supplements marketed by pharmaceutical companies, the vitamin present naturally in camu camu berries may also work in the form of a potent antioxidant. Moreover, consumption of this fruit will ensure that our body is protected from various forms of cancer, as vitamin C possesses the aptitude to combat the harmful free radicals in our body. The antioxidant attribute of vitamin C helps to eliminate the free radicals.
Vitamin C found naturally in camu camu is also a powerful antioxidant and it also has the aptitude to eliminate free radicals that assault the cells‘ DNA. When this genetic element of the cell is harmed it may result in cancer as well as development of other threatening diseases. Therefore, using camu camu, which contains sufficient levels of vitamin C, may help us to be free from these sufferings.
It is believed that perhaps camu camu is among the most nutritious fruits that were ever available and having the sole role of supporting and strengthening the human’s overall health. Camu camu has several functions, and one of the major functions of this super food is to promote our health by ensuring that the blood circulation within the vascular system remains healthy.
This super food possesses a characteristic aptitude to prevent plaque formation inside the blood vessels, a condition known as atherosclerosis in medical terminology. Moreover, camu camu also supports the elasticity or suppleness of the veins and arteries, which helps to maintain the blood pressure always within the standard range.
As far as one’s mood is concerned, the mechanism of the human brain is different for every individual. Therefore, consuming camu camu may prove to be highly beneficial in lifting one’s mood, as this fruit contains high levels of vitamin C, which helps to increase serotonin (a chemical messenger used by the brain to send signals) in the brain. Even people who are recuperating from depression and being treated with anti-depressant drugs can consume camu camu for additional benefits and speeding up their recovery. Precisely speaking, eating camu camu does not cause any adverse effect and one can continue consuming this fruit as a part of his/ her anti-depression treatment.
Inflammation occurs whenever our immune system naturally responds to any harmful stimuli, such as alien substances or pathogens that invade a hale and hearty human body. In fact, such inflammatory responses are not confined to any particular area of the body, but have an effect on our entire body. Instead of being local in nature, such reactions are systematic, because it has an effect on other body areas too, such as the heart and painful joints. Camu camu encloses high levels of vitamin C, which has the ability to resist inflammation owing to its potent anti-inflammatory attributes.
It is worth mentioning here that even this super fruit does not possess the ability to neutralize all types of inflammatory reactions in our body. Nevertheless, you are always secure when you incorporate camu camu in the inflammation control treatment, which may have been recommended by your physician or healthcare provider.
In addition to possessing potent anti-inflammatory attributes, camu camu also contains different other substances, which facilitate the body in repairing the damaged cartilage, joints, ligaments and tendons by means of promoting the production of collagen. As a result, inclusion of camu camu proves to be very useful in supplements meant for healthy joints. Natives of the rainforests, especially in the Amazon region, prepare a tonic from the fruit and use it to support healthy hair. In addition, this tonic is believed to bring back the lustre, strength as well as vitality of hair. This tonic is also helpful in repairing the split ends as well as providing a silky texture to hair.
In Peru, the government is hopeful that the popularity of camu camu will soar owing to the several health benefits offered by this super fruit. The government there also hopes that this fruit will eventually turn out to be a major export commodity for the country, raising its income from foreign sources.
As the trees mature, the amount of vitamin C contained by the fruits declines, while their flavour improves. With full maturity, there is a significant decline in the vitamin C content of this fruit. Camu camu provides us also with several other dietary benefits. In fact, the fruit pigmentation as well as the aroma of camu camu is exceptional. A reddish or flushed coloring in the fibrous peel of camu camu (possibly anthocyanins) passes on a striking as well as extraordinary hue to the juices that are extracted from the flesh of the fruit. This fruit has a delicate aroma, which is not as appealing as that of some of the fruits that are more familiar or popular. In recent times, people have been using camu camu as an ingredient in various delicacies, such as sweets, ice creams and others.
Habitat and cultivation
Currently, camu camu grows over a vast area ranging from the lowlands in Amazon in Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, and Peru. The distribution of the trees spread out from the middle of Pará state in Brazil the length of the upper and middle Amazon River to Peru’s eastern region. In the north, this tree is seen growing in the Casiquiare as well as the middle and upper Orinoco River. This herb is found in various regions of Brazil, including Rondonia the length of Urupa and Macangana Rivers. In the Amazons, this tree is found growing in the municipalities of Manacapuru and Manaus as well as the length of Madeira, Negro, and Javari Rivers.
The natives of the Amazon region in Brazil and Peru have used the camu camu fruits since long. They harvested the fruits of the wild trees and transported directly by their canoes. It is only recently that the trees are being cultivated extensively and the fruits sold in the international market. Incidentally, Japan is the major purchaser of camu camu fruits. Cultivating camu camu is relatively easy. This tree thrives well in hot, moist, tropical climatic condition. However, it also grows in places having sub-tropical climatic conditions and can survive in temperatures as low as just a little higher than the freezing point. If you are cultivating camu camu you should know that this species requires lot of watering.
In the Amazon flood plains as well as riparian vegetation, camu camu is found growing in locally dense populations. This species possesses the aptitude to endure extreme flooding. In fact, it survives even in conditions wherein the roots and much of the trees’ aerial parts are immersed in water for as long as four to five months.
Camu camu is propagated by means of its seeds. The cultivated trees start bearing fruits when their stem girth is about 2 cm (which takes about three years since the appearance of the seedlings). Camu camu trees start flowering after the dry season is over and they bear fruits when the rainy season is at its peak. Experiments with the wild as well as cultivated plants have indicated that the trees continue to bear fruits for many decades at a stretch.
The refined powder obtained from the camu camu fruit pulp is currently being marketed in the western countries in the form of a health food either as a capsule or in loose powder form. Apart from being rich in vitamin C, camu camu fruits also enclose essential amino acids, such as leucine, serine and valine.
Camu camu is also rich in:
- cyanidin 3-glucoside
- delphinidin 3-glucoside
- ellagic acid
- gallic acid
- hydrolyzed tannins