Health Care Professional Information

Scientific Name
Myrciaria dubia
Common Name

Camu-camu, Cacari, Camu Berry, Zamu

Clinical Summary

Camu-camu is a shrub native to the Amazon region of South America. Due to its sour taste, it is not generally consumed as food. However, following recent reports of high vitamin C content in the fruit, camu-camu is being marketed as a dietary supplement for many purported uses including diabetes and cancer.
Camu-camu fruits have antioxidative and anti-inflammatory effects (5) (6). Pharmacological activity was exhibited by the leaves as well (4). Large scale clinical studies have not been conducted to study these effects in humans.

Due to it high vitamin C content, camu-camu may interfere with certain chemotherapy drugs; however, the vitamin C content in frozen camu-camu pulp was shown to decrease progressively (1).

Purported Uses
Immunostimulation
Depression
Atherosclerosis
Arthritis
Emphysema
Constituents
  • Vitamin C (approximately 3000mg/100g of pulp) (2)
  • Beta-carotene
  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Niacin
  • Phosphorus
  • Riboflavin
  • Thiamin
  • Anthocyanin
  • Ellagic acid
    (3)
Mechanism of Action

The compounds isolated from the leaves, ellagic acid, 4-O-methylellagic acid and 4-(alpha-rhamnopyranosyl) ellagic acid were found to exhibit noncompetitive inhibition of aldose-reductase, a possible target for diabetes mellitus (4).
Camu-camu juice decreases inflammatory and oxidative stress markers such as 8-hydroxy-deoxyguanosine, total reactive oxygen species, C reactive protein, IL-6, and IL-8 in smokers (5).

Herb-Drug Interactions

Camu-camu has a high amount of Vitamin C which is an antioxidant. It may interact with certain chemotherapy drugs that rely on the generation of free radicals for their cytotoxic effects.

Literature Summary and Critique

Inoue T, Komoda H, Uchida T, Node K. Tropical fruit camu-camu (Myrciaria dubia) has anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory properties. J Cardiol. Oct 2008;52(2):127-132.
In a study conducted in Japan, 20 male smokers were randomized to receive 70 ml of camu-camu juice (containing approximately 1050 mg Vitamin C) or 1050 mg Vitamin C tablets daily for 7 days. Urine and serum samples were collected at baseline and after treatment. Oxidative stress and inflammatory markers decreased significantly in the camu-camu group but not in the Vitamin C group. Data suggest that Camu-camu may have a protective role against atherosclerosis. Further research is warranted.

References
  1. Justi KC, Visentainer JV, Evelazio de Souza N, Matsushita M. Nutritional composition and vitamin C stability in stored camu-camu (Myrciaria dubia) pulp. Arch Latinoam Nutr. Dec 2000;50(4):405-408.
  2. Bradfield RB, Roca A. Camu-Camu—A Fruit High in Ascorbic Acid.J Am Diet Assoc. Jan 1964;44:28-30.
  3. Zanatta CF, Cuevas E, Bobbio FO, et al. Determination of anthocyanins from camu-camu (Myrciaria dubia) by HPLC-PDA, HPLC-MS, and NMR. J Agric Food Chem. Nov 30 2005;53(24):9531-9535.
  4. Ueda H, Kuroiwa E, Tachibana Y, et al. Aldose reductase inhibitors from the leaves of Myrciaria dubia (H. B. & K.) McVaugh. Phytomedicine. Nov 2004;11(7-8):652-656.
  5. Inoue T, Komoda H, Uchida T, Node K. Tropical fruit camu-camu (Myrciaria dubia) has anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory properties. J Cardiol. Oct 2008;52(2):127-132.
  6. Yazawa K, Suga K, Honma A, Shirosaki M, Koyama T. Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Seeds of the Tropical Fruit Camu-Camu (Myrciaria dubia). J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 2011;57(1):104-7.

Consumer Information

How It Works

Bottom Line: Camu-camu has not been shown to prevent or treat cancer in humans.

Camu-camu is a small plant that grows in South America. Laboratory studies and a small study in humans have shown that the fruits have anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory properties. More research is needed.
Because camu-camu has high amounts of vitamin C, it can interfere with certain chemo drugs.

Purported Uses
  • Immunostimulation
    There is no scientific evidence to support this use.
  • Atherosclerosis
    A small study in smokers showed that camu-camu may protect again atherosclerosis. More studies are needed.
  • Arthritis
    This claim is not backed by scientific research.
Research Evidence

Inflammation
In a small study conducted in Japan, twenty male smokers were allotted to two groups, one receiving 70 ml of camu-camu juice (containing approximately 1050 mg vitamin C) and the other vitamin C tablets (1050 mg) daily for 7 days. Urine and serum samples were collected at baseline and after treatment. Oxidative stress and inflammatory markers decreased significantly in the camu-camu group but not in the vitamin C group. Researchers concluded that camu-camu may help protect against inflammatory disorders. More research is needed.

Do Not Take If

You are taking chemotherapy drugs (camu-camu has high amounts of vitamin C, which can interfere with their activity).

E-mail your questions and comments to aboutherbs@mskcc.org.