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CAMU CAMU  
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Calendula  |  Capsella

Botanical:   Myrciaria dubia
Family:   Myrtaceae (myrtle/clove)
Other common names:  Cacari, Camocamo, Bayberry Fruit, Mirto, Murta, Guayabillo, Coco-Carette, Merisier-Cerise, Escobillo, Bois de Basse Batard, Cabo de Chivo, Mije, Mije Colorado, Mijo, Shahuinto

If you think vitamin C is helpful for building the immune system, warding off infections, colds and flu, then Camu Camu is the herb for you.  A gift from the Amazon rainforest, Camu Camu provides more vitamin C than any known botanical on earth!  Its rich ascorbic acid helps to support the brain and nervous system, improve skin, enhance blood circulation, decrease cholesterol levels, help lower the incidence of blood clots in veins and fortify blood vessel walls.

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein by Herbal Extracts Plus is intended for educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

History:
Camu Camu is a shrub (or bushy riverside tree) that is native to the Amazon rainforest, and its current range comprises Amazon lowland regions of Venezuela, Peru and Brazil (most notably), as well as Colombia, Ecuador and Bolivia.  Camu Camu fruit has only recently come into large-scale cultivation and sale to the world market with Japan as the major buyer, where it is very highly regarded for its vitamin C content.  It is also frozen or bottled as a health juice.  Camu Camu is exported from Peru to the United States for the production of "vitamin C" tablets for the "health food" market.  It is the extraordinarily rich supply of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) in Camu Camu that is considered the most important factor in its positioning on international markets.  Closely related to the Rumberry-Guavaberry (Myrciaria floribunda), the plant produces young branchlets with prickly hairs and narrow, opposite-growing, lanceolate-to-elliptical-shaped, feathery leaves.  The smallish tree, which may reach a height of fifteen feet, bears sweetly-fragrant flowers with tiny, white, waxy petals and a round, cherry-like fruit that is yellow at first, becoming maroon to purple-black.  The fruit, with its yellow pulp, is soft and juicy when ripe and is of acid/sweet flavor.  Each fruit contains three seeds. The bushy shrub grows in hot, damp tropics, and it fruits during the rainy season.  As a matter of fact, it thrives in lakes, swamps and on riversides, frequently with the base and lower branches of the tree submerged in water for months.  Interestingly, the fruit is harvested in the wild by boat (usually canoe).  In plantations, in a non-flooded environment, a single plant may bear four- to five-hundred fruits.  However, on flooded land, the per-plant harvest has reached one thousand fruits.  Long used in herbal medicine by the native practitioners in the Amazon rainforest, documentation of Camu Camu’s traditional use is scant; furthermore, there has been very little modern clinical research conducted or published concerning the medicinal or therapeutic properties of the herb.  Although edible and very high in vitamin C, it is unlikely that the fruit has ever been nutritionally relevant as a staple, since its aroma is not as inviting as other fruits, and it is not particularly tasty.  Camu Camu is extremely acidic, and the flavor is usually disguised with the addition of sugar, water or milk.  Oddly, it is used as a flavoring for sweets, and in recent years, Camu Camu fruit has become popular in Peru, where it is made into drinks, popsicles, candy and ice cream.  The reddish pigment in the fruit’s skin is said to be attributable to its anthocyanin content that also imparts an attractive pink color to the juices extracted from it.  Until recent decades, Camu Camu was used almost exclusively as fish bait and a convenient source of firewood, and although recorded medical uses are rare, it was used widely in local folk medicine for rheumatism, toothach, promoting energy and vitality, clearing lungs, sinuses and nasal passages, constipation, promoting a healthy heart and circulation.  Some of the constituents in Camu Camu include an exceptionally high vitamin C content (considered to have more of this phytonutrient than any other known botanical, and a quality fruit may contain thirty to sixty times more vitamin C than an orange!).  Also included are bioflavonoids, carbohydrates, protein, fiber, ellagic acid, eucalyptol, fenchol, volatile terpene compounds (alpha-pinene, d-limonene, camphene, beta myrcene, humulene, alpha phellandrene, beta caryophyllene), a full complement of amino acids (serine, valine, leucine), beta-carotene, B-vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin), calcium, iron, phosphorus and is a significant source of potassium.

Beneficial Uses:
It is important to understand that it is the significant vitamin C content in Camu Camu that appears to be the primary and essential factor in bestowing the herb’s favorable health benefits, particularly as a way to strengthen the immune system.  There are many claims that vitamin C is the most essential and beneficial vitamin, and because of the significant content of vitamin C in Camu Camu, it is said to be a superior support for the immune system, helping to combat bacterial infections, viral infections (cold sores, shingles, blisters), influenza and colds – especially when under stressful situations, which tend to exhaust the immune system.

Camu Camu is thought to help promote healthy gums, echoing its use by local native populations for toothache.  People with vitamin C deficiency can be at risk of developing gingivitis, and in tests, a rich supply of vitamin C content has been shown to markedly improve gum tissue.  Although it is established that smoking contributes to periodontal disease, tobacco users may especially benefit from the high vitamin C supplementation in Camu Camu, as smoking depletes the body of this nutritional supplement.

The red pigment in Camu Camu is believed to be derived from anthocyanidins, which are considered to be one of nature’s most powerful antioxidants that soak up free radicals and help to combat carcinogens and protect against cellular damage.

Camu Camu is believed to support the functions of the brain and nervous system. Ascorbic acid protects the brain and spinal cord from damage, and amino acids also act to support the nervous system (relieving nerve pain, pain of repetitive motion and mood swings). The herb’s leucine stimulates the upper brain, helping mental function; valine promotes mental vigor, muscle coordination and calms emotions; serine is also a component of brain proteins and the protective myelin sheaths around nerve fibers (easing pain).  Furthermore, it is believed that the full complement of naturally occurring vitamins, minerals and amino acids in Camu Camu may well help with the absorption and efficient uptake of vitamin C, thus possibly making it superior to taking an ascorbic acid tablet alone.

Because vitamin C has long been associated with the formation of red blood cells, Camu Camu is thought to be helpful in cases of anemia.

Camu Camu is said to relieve rheumatism, reflecting its historical use by native populations to ease that condition.  Locals steeped Camu Camu in aguardiente, a distilled liquor made from cane sugar, to relieve rheumatism.

Camu Camu’s rich ascorbic acid supply is thought to decrease cholesterol levels, improve circulation of blood, help lower the incidence of blood clots in veins and fortify blood vessel walls.

Regarding its reputation for promoting healthy skin, Camu Camu, it is thought to help wounds heal and preserve and mend connective tissue.  Ascorbic acid is essential for collagen production.

Contraindications:
At the time of this writing, no contraindications or warnings have been noted with the use of Camu Camu Herbal Supplement. Overuse (many times the recommended dosage) may produce the side effects associated with excessive use of vitamin C, i.e., gastrointestinal disturbances and diarrhea. No drug interactions have been reported as of this writing.

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