Camu camu is a low-growing shrub found throughout the Amazon rain forests. Botanically named Myrciaria dubia, it produces a light orange to purple fruit with a yellow pulp. One of its notable features is that this fruit is packed with more natural vitamin C than any other food source recorded in nature, in addition to many other nutrients such as protein, iron, beta-carotene, manganese, copper, magnesium, potassium, calcium, niacin, phosphorus, zinc, serine, thiamine, leucine, and valine.
Dried Camu camu powder is approximately 15% Vitamin C by weight and compared to oranges, it provides 30-50 times more vitamin C, ten times more iron, three times more niacin, twice as much riboflavin, and 50% more phosphorus. If fact, half a teaspoon of Camu camu provides over 400% of the adult RDA of Vitamin C!
Camu camu has astringent, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, emollient and nutritional properties. It strengthens immune system, is high in anti-oxidants and supports optimal function of the nervous system including eye and brain function, having a positive effect on eye issues such as macular degeneration, which becomes more common with an increase in age. It is even used as a safe and effective antidepressant. It provides arthritic protection by helping reduce inflammation, and its anti-hepatic activity protects against liver disorders, including liver disease and liver cancer. Interestingly, it is even effective against all forms of the Herpes virus such as Epstein-Barr, Mononucleosis and cold sores.
At present, overharvesting of wild camu camu threatens to make it an endangered species, however efforts are underway to encourage the commercial growth of Camu camu in the Amazon River basin.