(BeWellBuzz) Camu-camu (Myrciaria Dubia) is a berry native to the Amazon that has become famous as a tremendous food source of vitamin C. While insufficient data exists to prescribe camu-camu as a medical treatment, natives of South America have long been using the fruit to treat a plethora of ailments, and even as a beauty tonic to heal split ends and restore shine and health to hair. The increase in demand for the camu berry is considered a win-win situation, as it brings income to the local people.
In addition to a high concentration of vitamin C, the camu berry provides:
- Vitamins B1, B2, B3
- Anthocyanins (bioflavonoids/super-antioxidants)
- Ellagic acid
Camu Camu Uses
Advocates of nutritional healthcare are turning to camu-camu berry to strengthen immune system, or for treatment and prevention of several conditions including:
- the common cold
- cataracts and glaucoma
- atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)
- emphysema (lung disease)
Much lay and anecdotal literature exists concerning the use and effectiveness of camu-camu for health benefits. Because few studies have yet been conducted, there is currently little scientific data to support the use of camu-camu as a treatment or prevention for illness.
Studies on Health & Healing Benefits
Studies are increasing to examine the whole fruit’s effectiveness in fighting disease and promoting health; as well as to determine the usefulness of its constituents, anthocyanins, ellagic acid and vitamin C.
Camu-camu berry is a rich source of anthocyanins. These are the pigments that give various fruits and vegetables their color, including red sweet potatoes, red cabbage or red, blue and violet berries. Studies of populations have for some time indicated that moderate and regular intake of anthocyanins, for example by drinking red wine, may lower the risk of heart disease. In the past decade anthocyanins have been researched for their potential cancer fighting properties.
When administered to cancer-induced rats, berry anthocyanins were shown to block the proliferation of cancer cells, and helped to trigger the vital cell-death response, apoptosis, in this case causing the death of cancer cells. Human clinical trials to test the cancer fighting effects of berries and anthocyanins are currently underway.
Ellagic Acid, Anti-Diabetic
Scientists have found camu-camu berries to have a high concentration of ellagic acid (EA). A study published in the Asian Journal of Pharmaceutical and Clinical Research in 2011 found that ellagic acid is a potent anti-hyperglycemic. During testing, EA helped to normalize glucose levels in diabetes-induced rats. This evidence suggests that it may be have a future as a therapeutic agent in managing diabetes.
A yet more recent study conducted in 2012 explains the dangerous process of glycation, which causes the formation of AGEs (advanced glycation end-products). AGEs produce toxins in the body that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease, premature aging and diabetes. AGE production accelerates in a hyperglycemic environment. This study found that EA’s anti-glycating properties inhibited the formation of AGEs, a breakthrough in preventing certain diabetic complications, including loss of transparency in the eye lens, and controlling AGE-mediated diabetic conditions.
Camu-camu, Outperforms Vitamin C Tablet
There is evidence that the camu-camu fruit is greater than the sum of its parts.
Smoking is one of the most potent antagonists for cell oxidative stress. In Japan, 2008, a team of researchers randomly selected 20 male smokers. Everyday for 7 days, 10 smokers were administered 70ml of camu-camu juice providing 1,050mg of vitamin C. The remaining 10 were given vitamin C tablets providing the same 1,050mg, for the same amount of time.
The camu-camu group showed a significant decrease in markers of cell oxidation and inflammation; whereas the group receiving the tablet showed no changes at all.
This study supports the view that camu-camu juice is powerfully anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory, whereas the extracted vitamin C had none of the equivalent effects. Most likely, there are other unidentified antioxidants or unknown compounds working synergistically with vitamin C in the fruit to activate its healing properties in the body.
Although locals in the Amazon have been known to mix the fruit juice with milk and sugar, few people in the West eat the raw camu berry because of its sour taste. Supplements can be found in health food stores and online as a juice, in capsules, or as a powder. If you prefer the powder form, make sure to always buy organic camu camu berry powder.
No severe side effects from consumption of camu-camu have yet been shown. There is some evidence that camu-camu may interfere with chemotherapy treatments.
Hou DX. “Potential mechanisms of cancer chemoprevention by anthocyanins.” 2003 Mar;3(2):149-59. PMID: 12630561
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.
Gary D. Stoner,a Li-Shu Wang,a Nancy Zikri,b Tong Chen,c Stephen S. Hecht,d Chuanshu Huang,e Christine Sardo,c and John F. Lechnerc . Semin Cancer Biol. 2007 October; 17(5): 403-410. Published online 2007 May 10. “Cancer Prevention with Freeze-dried Berries and Berry Components” PMCID: PMC2196225
Palanisamy Malini, Ganesan Kanchana, Murugan Rajadurai. “Antidiabetic Efficacy of Ellagic Acid in Streptozotocin-induced Diabetes Mellitus in Albino Wistar Rats” Asian Journal of Pharmaceutical and Clinical Research
Vol. 4, Issue 3, 2011 ISSN – 0974-2441 http://www.ajpcr.com/Vol4Issue3/448.pdf
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.
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center http://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/herb/Camu-camu
Camu Camu Health Benefits http://camucamu.org/