Seasonal Health in Peru: Camu Camu

Friday Nov 15 | BY |
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Camu Camu 2

Camu camu (Myrciaria dubia) is a small riverside tree
found in the Amazon rainforest of Peru and Brazil.

Peru is rich in amazing super foods. From the Amazon to Andes, I’ve discovered and sampled dozens of foods and herbs loaded with nutrient value and healing properties.

Many of our readers already know of Maca (Lepidium meyenii), a Peruvian super food traditionally consumed as a warm breakfast drink, that’s been proven to have hormone enhancing and regulating properties. Peruvian purple corn (Spanish: maíz morado) has more polyphenol antioxidants than red wine. Muna (Minthostachys setosa), a type of Andean wild mint, is used for fighting off colds and flu, calming digestive upset and abdominal bloating, and as general health tonic.

Another common Peruvian super food is Camu camu.

Seasonal Health

When the Amazon River rises, camu camu fruits ripen. The season extends for 3-4 months during the rainy time from November through February when you’ll find street vendors and market sellers laden with piles of antioxidant rich camu camu.

The small round reddish fruit is made into a vivid pink juice. It has a fruity aroma with a tangy taste, but is unlike any other fruit juice you’ve ever tasted. Don’t try to eat it raw. It’s very bitter and acidic. In fact, even the local indigenous people don’t consume it right off the tree.

Camu camu (Myrciaria dubia) is a small riverside tree found in the Amazon rainforest of Peru and Brazil. The tree occurs in dense stands in Amazonian flood plains, which are covered in water half of the year. However, the camu camu plant is extremely tolerant of flooding, withstanding months with its roots underwater.

Camu camu is becoming more popular in America because of its extraordinary high vitamin C content, but it has other health benefits.

Health Benefits

High Vitamin C: The “C” in vitamin C doesn’t stand for camu camu, but it could. The extraordinarily high vitamin C content at 2–3% of fresh weight is 60 times greater than an orange! One teaspoon of camu camu powder has 1180% of your recommended daily intake for vitamin C, a nutrient that is important for gum health, strengthening capillaries, boosting immunity, and many other functions in your body.

Phenolic Compounds: Besides vitamin C, camu camu contains anthocyanins. The antioxidant capacities of the phenolic compounds present in camu camu total at least 30 different kinds including catechin, delphinidin 3-glucoside, cyanidin 3-glucoside, ellagic acid and rutin.

Minerals and Amino Acids: Camu-camu fruits are also good sources of potassium, iron, calcium, phosphorous, and amino acids such as serine, valine and leucine.

Though there are not a lot of studies (yet!) on camu camu, what we know is impressive. It has anti-inflammatory properties that may prevent chronic cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity. It may also have anti-cancer properties. The presence of high levels of bioactive compounds in camu camu fruit makes it an ideal super food.

One thing for certain—if you go to Iquitos on the upper Amazon River in Peru during the rainy season, you’ll find camu camu juice every where. Locals swear by its power to prevent illness and strengthen the body.

Dr. J. E. Williams


Dr. Williams is a pioneer in integrative and functional medicine, the author of six books, and a practicing clinician with over 100,000 patient visits. His areas of interest include longevity and viral immunity. Formerly from San Diego, he now resides in Sarasota, Florida and practices at the Florida Integrative Medical Center. He teaches at NOVA Southeastern University and Emperor’s College of Oriental Medicine.

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  1. Jollean says:

    The article said the small round reddish fruit is made into a vivid pink juice. The only way I have seen camu camu is in a powder that is supposed to be added to water. Is the juice different or healthier than the powder put into water? Also, the article said don’t try to eat camu camu raw because it’s very bitter and acidic. When it is made into juice, is it heated first so that it is not raw or acidic? Is the powder that is sold in stores not raw camu camu made into a powder?

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