Deep in the forests of the Amazon, in the swamps and murkiest areas, grows a shrub that contains the most potent source of vitamin C on the planet. Its cherry-like berries deliver 60 times more vitamin C than an orange—just one teaspoon holds 1180% of the recommended daily intake—and a cornucopia of essential phytonutrients and minerals.

Exotic camu camu is not yet as well known as other Amazonian super-berries like acai, but it matches up, and in many ways surpasses, more well-known plant powers. Perhaps camu camu’s greatest health benefit is its remarkable ability to tame the chronic inflammation that is behind so many insidious and life-threatening conditions. Let’s take a look at camu camu’s many health benefits, starting with its abundant vitamin C content.

Vitamin C’s Effect on Chronic and Critical Health Conditions

Vitamin C is best known as an immunity booster because of its powerful antioxidant nature, defending against the onslaught of free radicals and pathogens. But vitamin C goes beyond immunity to heal such health conditions as cirrhosis of the liver. Studies show that even doses as low as 500 milligrams of vitamin C a day can help prevent fatty buildup and cirrhosis of the liver. And according to the Mayo Clinic, those already afflicted with cirrhosis can benefit from vitamin C therapy.

Vitamin C also shows significant clinical benefit for depression. Vitamin C is a cofactor needed to convert the amino acid tryptophan into 5-hydroxytryptophan, or serotonin. In this way, high doses of vitamin C, such as those provided by camu camu, can help your body produce more serotonin, which helps to improve mood and possibly alleviate depression. A study published in the journal Nutrition showed that patients with low levels of vitamin C and documented sluggishness and depression experienced rapid improvements in mood when they were treated with vitamin C.

Gum health, which is directly linked to heart health, is also beneficially impacted by the anti-viral and antioxidant capacities of vitamin C. Vitamin C substantially reduces the free radicals and inflammation that can instigate gum conditions such as gingival and periodontal issues.

Vitamin C + Carotenoids = Outstanding Eye Health

Camu camu contains a tremendous 355 micrograms of carotenoids, primarily lutein with some zeaxanthin and beta-carotene lending even more carotenoid magic for superior eye health protection. Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in people 55 and up in the Western world, and by 2025 the number of people with macular degeneration is expected to triple. Camu camu has been shown to help inhibit the progression of macular degeneration and visual acuity loss.

Camu Camu’s Superstar Nutrients

Camu camu’s nutritional profile continues to impress. Just 100 grams of camu camu delivers 106% of the daily value of manganese, as well as a hefty dose of potassium, copper, iron, calcium, zinc, and magnesium. It also contains three standout amino acids. Valine and leucine are essential amino acids your body can’t make on its own. Valine helps protect muscles from breaking down and optimizes nervous system and brain function, while leucine promotes bone tissue and muscle growth and boosts the recovery and production of growth hormones. A third amino acid, serine, enhances digestion by helping to break down proteins and polypeptides so they are more easily used by the body.

Then there are the potential anti-cancer and anti-viral phytochemicals in camu camu. Ellagic acid has been studied for its anti-cancer effects and has also been shown to help treat diabetes. Camu camu is rich in gallic acid, known for its anti-fungal and anti-viral properties.

How to Take Camu Camu

Due to its high vitamin C content, camu camu berries are extremely sour and not very tolerable taste-wise. For this reason, most people looking to benefit from camu camu’s nutritional dexterity take it as a powder. It’s as simple as sprinkling two teaspoons in a drink, such as a smoothie, or on yogurt, oatmeal, or cereal.