The Benefits of Camu Camu

camu camu

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Camu camu (Myrciaria dubia) is a type of fruit native to South America. The berries, which have a very sour flavor, are typically consumed in the form of blended juices or added to sweetened beverages and desserts rather than consumed as the whole food.

The seeds, skin, and pulp have been found to be rich in vitamin C and a variety of antioxidants (including anthocyanins).

Uses for Camu Camu

Touted as a top source of vitamin C and antioxidants, proponents claim that the camu camu powder can ease inflammation, boost the immune system, and aid in skin and hair care. In addition, camu camu is purported to protect against acne, arthritis, atherosclerosis, cancer, cold sores, depression, diabetes, gum disease, and rosacea.

An oil enriched with camu camu is sometimes applied on hair as a hair oil or conditioner. Proponents claim that the oil can promote hair growth and guard against hair loss. It is also used in skin products such as face serums, creams, lotions, and moisturizers.

The Benefits of Camu Camu

There is currently a lack of clinical trials testing the health effects of camu camu. However, preliminary research suggests that it may offer certain health benefits. Here's a look at some key study findings:

1) Inflammation

Camu camu may fight inflammation and oxidative stress in smokers, according to a small 2008 study from the Journal of Cardiology. For the study, 20 male smokers (considered to have a greater level of oxidative stress) consumed camu camu juice or took vitamin C tablets daily for seven days. At the end of the seven day period, those who took camu camu had a significant decrease in certain markers of inflammation and oxidative stress (a process that can damage molecules in cells and contribute to diseases and aging). Those who took vitamin C, meanwhile, did not experience a decrease in these markers.

A small study in healthy nonsmokers, however, measured antioxidant levels before and after consumption of a single 400 mL serving of a juice containing camu camu mixed with açai and blackberries (other antioxidant-rich fruit) and found that the juice did not reduce markers of oxidative stress.

2) Postprandial Glycemia

Camu camu may help improve blood sugar control in healthy adults, a preliminary 2017 study suggests. Researchers tested the effects of six Brazilian fruit juices consumed with a carbohydrate meal and found that blood glucose levels were lower after consumption of camu camu (as well as cagaita and cambuci juice).

Side Effects

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 treatment.

In a case report published in 2013, a 45-year-old man was seen with itching, dark urine, fever, and vomiting and was found to have liver injury, which improved with time. Daily consumption of a supplement containing camu camu was considered the likely cause.

The Takeaway

Like other fruits with superfruit status (such as acai, acerola, amalaki, baobab, maqui, and moringa), camu camu is said to be rich in vitamin C and antioxidants. While eating these nutrients may help to boost health, camu camu usually costs more than your local fruit, and there's no evidence that taking it can prevent or treat any health condition.

Until there is more research confirming the health benefits of camu camu, you may be better off sticking with local anthocyanin-rich fruit such as blueberries, cranberries, blackberries, red and purple grapes, cherries, bilberries, and black currants.

Fruit sources of vitamin C include guava, papaya, kiwi fruit, oranges, strawberries, lychee, pineapple, and grapefruit.

If you're still thinking of trying camu camu supplements, be sure to consult your health care provider first to discuss whether it's right for you.

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