Amacari: Critical Review of Research and Claims

Is Amacari  “The secret of the Amazon?” Is the Camu Berry  the “miracle fruit of super fruits?” These were some of the words used to describe this supplement whose infomercial I watched on TV recently. Amacari (pronounced “am-ah-sorry”) is touted to be not only an antioxidant but also possessing both anti-inflammatory and anti aging effects. The infomercial also stated that the camu berry is ” backed by studies that the drug companies don’t want you to know about.” That’s a bold statement and that’s what got my attention because in this era of the Internet, you can’t keep studies a secret if they are published somewhere. With those words, began my review of Amacari and the claims made during the infomercial. Keep reading and see what I discovered.

 

What Is The Camu Berry?

The camu berry is also just called Camu, or Camu Camu. It’s scientific name is Myrciaria dubia. Amacari is the name given to the proprietary camu supplement you may have seen on TV.  As is mentioned in the TV commercial the camu berry  grows in the Amazon rain forests. It also has a very high level of vitamin C. Various websites I saw stated that the camu berry had between 20-50% more vitamin C than oranges. It’s likely that this high vitamin C  level is the reason some call camu a “super fruit” a name I personally feel is misleading because all fruits (and vegetables) could be called  super. Like all fruits, camu has fiber as well as various other vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.

Camu is also an ingredient in Shakeology and MonaVie Essential so see those reviews for other information.

 

Who Makes Amasari?

According to the TV infomercial I saw, Jeff Moats, is listed as the founder of Amacari. He also appears in the Infomercial. His linkedin profile states that he is the founder and president of Amazon Origins LLC. Since camu comes from the Amazon, I take this to mean that Amazon Origins is the company that makes Amacari. It appears Mr. Moats’s interest in the camu fruit dates back several years, as he was mentioned in

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this 2008 National Geographic article titled After Acai, What Is Amazon’s Next “Cinderella Fruit”?

I found 2 relevant websites owned by Amazon Origins that promoted Amacari:

  • TryAmacari.com
  • CamuPure.com

I was curious where Amazon Origins was located. The Better Business Bureau – which gives Amazon Origins a rating of “C” as of 7/8/14 –  simply provides an address of PO Box 1766, Naples, FL 34106-1766.

But, that’s just a PO Box. So I kept looking.

The website, CamuPure.com lists this address: 2829 Cattlemen Road Sarasota, FL 34232. The link shows that this address might house several different companies, so it’s possible that this may be the location of the company.

I believe Amazon Origins has a connection to another company  called LiveSmart360. LiveSmart360.com sells a variety of dietary supplements (Amacari was not listed on this site when I looked). I also believe this because when I called, the Customer Service number listed at TryAmacari.com (888 223 3452), the recording I heard said “Thank you for calling LiveSmart360.”

 

I discovered that the person who registered both TryAmacari.com and CamuPure.com was someone named Charles Hallberg. When I goggled his name, I found a 2014 article at BusinessFromHome.org noting that Mr Hallberg was named as the CEO and president of LiveSmart360.

 

As I dug a bit deeper, I also saw that both Mr. Hallberg and Mr. Moats are associated with yet another company, called HFI Group LLC. I have no idea what the HFI Group is and I stopped my digging into the company at this point. I provide this information because, I am always curious about companies that market supplements and my hope is that my research can help others who may be doing their own investigations.

Amacari Research

On the infomercial, it’s stated that camu berry is:

“backed by studies that the drug companies don’t want you to know about.”

That’s a powerful statement, and one which I first heard used many years ago by supplement marketing legend, Kevin Trudeau (click the link to read more about him).

So, what are these studies nobody wants us to know about? Well, on the website, TryAmacari.com, (the website shown during the TV infomercial) there are 2 studies camu camu Amacarithat are listed:

  • A study of camu and smokers, which I’ll cover below.
  • A study of vitamin C and the brain.

Neither of these studies involved Amacari itself. In fact, the study about vitamin C and the brain doesn’t even mention Amacari or the camu fruit.

 

On another Amacari website (CamuPure.com/scientific-studies), which is owned by the same company (Amazon Origins), additional studies are listed.  I’ve linked to the studies for those doing their own research. They are as follows:

1. Camu camu: a promising fruit from the Amazon basin (this is a free pdf document you will have to download to read). This study does not appear to be peer reviewed. I say this because it contains no citation to where it was published. In my view, this reduces the impact and power of the study.

In the study, researchers compared camu fruit to other fruit juices in terms of its antioxidant properties.  Sometimes camu appeared superior, although at other times, it was not superior. For example, if you read the study, take note that when it came to a juices ability to mop up hydroxyl free radicals, cashews, blueberry and apple juice were better than camu juice. This study did not use the Amacari supplement but rather the juice from camu fruit itself.

 

2. Antioxidant compounds and antioxidant capacity of Peruvian camu camu (Myrciaria dubia (H.B.K.) McVaugh) fruit at different maturity stages. This study only discusses the antioxidant properties of camu fruit at different stages of the ripening process.  It does not appear that this study involved the Amacari supplement.

 

3. Anti-inflammatory effects of seeds of the tropical fruit camu-camu (Myrciaria dubia). This is a mouse study published in 2011. A specific extract derived from the seeds of the camu fruit,  given by mouth, reduced edemia in the paws of the mice.

This study also noted that the camu seed extract reduced nitric oxide production in the mice. How camu /Amacari alters nitric oxide levels in humans needs more research.

Studies using mice can be good starting points for research, but they alone cannot predict what happens in people.

 

4. Effects of diet supplementation with camu-camu (Myrciaria dubia HBK McVaugh) fruit in a rat model of diet induced obesity. This is a rat study published in 2013, which I also cover in my review of research below.  This study appears to be the source of claims that Amacari can help those who are overweight. Because this is a study of rats, its results need to be confirmed in people.

Looking over the research, 2 things occurred to me:

    1. None of the research cited on Amacari websites actually used Amacari itself, but rather, the camu fruit.

    2. With the exception of 1 human study of smokers (I’ll cover that  below), all of the studies mentioned were either test tube or rat studies.
Are these the studies drug companies don’t want us to know about?

 

Camu Research

I was not satisfied with the research I saw on Amacari websites and wanted to look for myself to see if any new research was out there that might help explain how/if Amacari lives up to the testimonals.  The camu fruit does have research. But, a good amount of those studies involves test tube and lab animal research.  Since Amacari is marked to people, I want to look at only the human studies. So, with that in mind, I searched the National Library of Medicine for these search terms:

  • Camu Camu
  • Myrciaria dubia

These words are broad enough that they should capture most ,if not all, peer reviewed research that were published on the camu fruit. I found the following human studies:

In 2008, a study titled Tropical fruit camu-camu (Myrciaria dubia) has anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory properties, looked at the effects of Camu Camu juice to vitamin C in 20 male smokers. Both groups received the equivalent of about 1000 mg of vitamin C per day.

After 7 days, the men getting camu were noted to have less oxidative stress ( less free radical stress) and reduced inflammation than the men getting just vitamin C.

Note. This study is also listed on TryAmacari.com as proof for the effects of Amacari. Ironically, this study appears to contradict claims made during Amacari TV commercial where vitamin C is touted one of the main strengths of cam camu fruit. In this study, camu appeared to reduce free radical stress in ways that were not related to its vitamin C content. This study did not use Amacari but rather the pulp of the camu-camu fruit.

In 2013, a study titled Bolus consumption of a specifically designed fruit juice rich in anthocyanins and ascorbic acid did not influence markers of antioxidative defense in healthy humans it was noted that a juice containing camu ―as well as other juicesdid not improve antioxidant defenses in a small group of healthy non-smokers.

Because the juice used in this study contained a variety of juices ―not just from camu ―it’s possible that this may have reduced the effects of camu. As such, I don’t consider this a very relevant study on the effects of Amacari itself. I include this study only because it involved humans.

These were the only human studies I was able to locate. All other research I saw was similar to that presented on Amacari websites ―test tube and lab animal research.

So where is the research that has drug companies shaking in the boots? If it’s out there, I can’t find it.

Now, let’s address some of the uses of Amacari that was mentioned during the infomercial.

 

Camu And Pain

During my investigation, I saw no studies of Camu and arthritis pain or any other kind of pain.  If the mouse edema study, mentioned above is confirmed in people, then maybe Amacari may reduce edema and this, in turn, might reduce some types of pain.

But I’d need a human study to know more. Theoretically, if Amacari has anti-inflammatory properties, then maybe it might help some types of arthritis and other ailments. But again, without human research, I can’t say either way if it would help or not.

 

Camu And Restless Leg Syndrome

I saw no studies of Amacari/Camu and restless leg syndrome. This is unfortunate given that this condition is mentioned on the Amacari infomercial. Interestingly, during my investigation, I did see online testimonials were it was said to help this condition, but as of now, that appears to be as far as the research goes. Just testimonials.

 

Camu And Anti Aging

During my investigation I saw websites clamming that Amasari had anti-aging properties, such as boosting collagen production or reducing free radicals (which are implicated in the aging process). When evaluating claims like these, it’s important to remember that currently, Amasari ―itself ―appears to have no published peer reviewed anti-aging research.

The camu fruit does contain vitamin C and likely other antioxidants too. I can understand how this can help reduce free radicals, but would that play a significant role in slowing down or reversing aging – or do it it better than the antioxidants in other fruits and vegetables? I don’t know. I hope somebody does research on this to find out.

 

Camu And Inflammation

Currently the best evidence that camu reduces inflammation is from the study of 20 smokers, an investigation that only lasted 7 days and which didn’t involve Amacari, but rather the camu fruit itself.

Camu And Weight Loss

While I found no human evidence that camu fruit or Amacari helped people lose weight, I did find a rat study from 2013 titled Effects of diet supplementation with Camu-camu (Myrciaria dubia HBK McVaugh) fruit in a rat model of diet-induced obesity.

This study is also mentioned on the TryAmacari.com website.

This study noted that rats eating the pulp (fiber) of the fruit appeared to lose weight and have reduced cholesterol and triglycerides, compared to rats that did not eat the camu pulp. Specifically, rats ate 25 ml of pulp (about 0.8 oz) per day.

While this is an interesting study, it doesn’t tell us if it there is some unknown compound in camu fruit that produced the results ―or if the weight loss was just a byproduct of eating more fiber.

It is well known that eating fiber can help weight loss  – and weight loss in turn, can reduce triglycerides and cholesterol levels. Could this be the answer, rather than assuming there is something special in camu fruit? I’m not sure. That’s why I recommend that somebody perform a follow up study where rats (or people) are randomly given equal amounts of either camu fruit pulp or the pulp of another fruit. Let’s see what happens then.

 

Who Is Forbes Riley?

Forbes is the main interview person you see in the TV commercial. She speaks with passion and conviction, a trait I’ve always found was her most attractive quality, and Forbes Riley Amacarilikely why she’s so successful on TV. I’ve seen her in several infomercials previously including:

Jack Lalanne juicer Spin Gym

Among many others. For more info on her, see her website ForbesRiley.com.

 

Who Is Dr. Derrick DeSilva?

The infomercial I saw notes that Dr DeSilva was the “Past president of the American Nutraceutical Association and senior attending staff of Raritan Bay Medical Center in NJ. “ His website AskDrDesilva.com also notes that he hosts a radio show and has his own line of supplements. When I looked, his website did not mention Amacari.

 

Who Is Dr. Robert Cross?

Dr. Robert Cross is the surgeon who speaks briefly during the Amacari infomercial. He discusses the benefits of vitamin C in helping wounds heal.  While it’s true vitamin C can help wound healing, it’s also true that vitamin C is less expensive than Amacari.  If  you watch the infomercial, take notice that Dr. Cross did not specifically mention that Amacari helps wound healing. He only mentions vitamin C.

 

Who Is Dr. DelRae Messer?

During the infomercial, we hear a testimonial from Dr. DelRae Messer, DC. Under her name it says “Nutrition Specialist,” but that’s a vague term. Her medical degree is “DC” ―Doctor of Chiropractic Medicine. Her website states she has certifications in nutrition which is great, but to me, a medical degree is more important than a certification. Based on that, I have to wonder why they called her a nutrition specialist rather than a chiropractor.

During her testimonial she says:

“One of the things that I tell people is to make sure they try Amacari. Why not? It has no side effects. It’s all natural, very, very high quality and we don’t have the negative effects of antibiotics.”

As a medical professional, Dr. DelRae knows the value of peer reviewed research. With that in mind, how does she know Amacari has no side effects since Amacari ―itself ―appears to have no published peer reviewed human research?

See the side effects section below for more info.

As for her comment about the “Negative effects of antibiotics,” are there any head-to-head comparisons between Amacari and antibiotics? None that I’m aware of, so I wonder why is she making this comparison?

Yes, there is research on vitamin C helping the immune system, but she specifically refers to Amacari. Without good proof, this makes no sense to me.

 

Dr. Messer has a website  ― drdelraedetox.com ―where she promotes a line of weight loss and detox supplements, one of which I noticed included Raspberry Ketones (click to see my review of that supplement). Ironically, when I looked, her website did not mention Amacari. Her other website, Fit4lifeformula.com,  appears to be operated by both her and John Oliver, MS, CSCS, the personal trainer, who is also featured in the infomercial.

Amacari And Linus Pauling

During the infomercial, references are made to Linus Pauling, who was one of the greatest scientists who ever lived, a man on the same level as Einstein and Watson and Crick in terms of his contributions to the world. The link provided goes to Dr. Pauling’s bio at Oregon State University, which also is the residence of The Linus Pauling Institute, (LPI), an organization that conducts research on various supplements.

Linus Pauling was also known as being a proponent of large doses of vitamin C. During the infomercial, Jeff Moats, CEO of Amacari states:

He brought it (camu) to the states and to Linus Pauling because that’s basically the repository of all legitimate, hard core vitamin C research.”

He further states that:

“They (presumably the Linus Pauling institute) were the ones who began drilling down and finding all these other compound activities, calling it a Pharmacy in a Fruit.”

 

Based on this, I searched the Linus Pauling Institute website to see what they had to say about camu/Amacari. I couldn’t find any references to the camu fruit or Amacari on the LPI website.

Mr. Moats goes on to say:

“One of Dr. Pauling’s 2 Nobel prizes was for his research on the benefits of high mega dose vitamin C.”

 

With respect, I  believe he misspoke.

 

Dr. Pauling was awarded 2 Nobel Prizes:

    1. Nobel Prize for chemistry (in 1954)

    2. Noble Peace Prize (in 1962)

It states on The Nobel Prize website that Dr. Paulings 1954 prize was for his work on chemical bonds. It does not mention anything about vitamin C.

 

I then contacted the Linus Pauling Institute for further clarification. They told me that Dr. Pauling’s 1954 Nobel Prize had no relationship to vitamin C.

They further told me that before Dr. Pauling died in 1994, they don’t believe he ever made any statements about camu and that includes the claim that he or the LPI ever called camu a “pharmacy in a fruit.”

 

The Free Bottle

When I checked, the TryAmacari.com website was offering people a free 15 day supply of Amacari (60 capsule bottle). People will have to pay $8.95 to cover the costs of shipping. People who take advantage of this need to understand that they are then enrolled in an auto-ship program.

This means that unless they cancel the auto-ship ―at 15 days after they place their order (not when they receive the product) ― their credit card will be charged $59.95 and they will be sent another month’s supply of Amacari (120 capsules per bottle). This will continue until they cancel their order.

How To Cancel Amacari

To cancel auto shipments call Amacari customer support at 888-223-3452, M-F 9AM-6PM EST. Unopened bottles have a 30 day return policy. People must call customer service and obtain a Return Authorization Number (RMA number) before they return the product. All returned bottles will have a 15% restocking fee.

 

Other Camu Supplements

I thought Amacari was expensive so I did a quick search and found these other camu products:

 

Is Amacari better than any of these other camu products? Since I can’t find any research on Amacari itself, I can’t say either way.  As I understand it, the camu fruit has a sour taste which is why some may prefer capsules. Some people have told me they put camu power on oatmeal or in smoothies to reduce the taste.  Here is a link to the smoothie I make for those who are interested.

 

Amacari /Camu Side Effects

Because of the lack of human research, its unknown what long term side effects Amacari or any camu supplement might have. I think eating the fruit is safe but concentrating the fruit ―or extracts of the fruit ―may have different outcomes. I honestly just don’t know at this point. My gut instinct is that healthy people, I think Amacari is safe. That said, here are some general thoughts that occurred to me as I wrote this review:

  • If you take any medications ask your pharmacist. As more research is conducted on camu, your pharmacist will be able to easily and quickly see if there are any interactions with the medications you take.
  • Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should ask their doctor first. This is wise to do with all supplements. Don’t assume that  supplements that are natural automatically means they are safe during pregnancy or breastfeeding.
  • Camu contains a lot of vitamin C, which is an antioxidant. In theory, antioxidants might interfere with some types of cancer therapies. When in doubt, ask your oncologist about camu supplements if this applies to you.
  • The high vitamin C content of camu might cause GI problems in some people especially if they take too much too soon.  Diarrhea is one side effect of lots of vitamin C.
  • People who have hemochromatosis (iron overload disorder), a rare disorder that causes unusually high storage of iron, should probably avoid camu products. Vitamin C increases iron absorption which may make this condition worse. Speak to your doctor if this applies to you.
  • Because some of the research I saw involved eating camu with food, I think taking Amacari with meals is probably better than taking on an empty stomach.

 

My belief is that when starting any new supplement, to reduce side effects, that its wise to start with the least possible dose for the first week and slowly increase to what is recommended.

 

Does Amacari Work?

Your guess is as good as mine although I must be honest and say that I was disappointed with the lack of human research when I investigated this supplement.  Not even Amacari websites could give me evidence to satisfy my curiosity.  If anything, the products own websites told me there is more research on the camu fruit itself than Amacari. Would Amacari do the same things as the camu fruit seems to? I don’t know.

For all I know, Amacari may be a very good supplement that just suffers from overzealous marketing hype, but I will need more research to draw better conclusions. I  hope the makers of the product eventually do that research because I truly want to know more about it.  When new human research becomes published, I will be more than happy to add it to this review.

Here’s Amacari on Amazon for those who want to see what others are saying.

What do you think?

Comments

      • regina says

        Great review Joe.! Always thankful for your thorough honest approach …. I often wonder about some of the claims on newly found “fruits” . Have you seen anything about the new Baobab Fruit Powders .? I am sure your investigations will be far better than anyone I could do .. It claims to be ” The King of Super Fruits” ..gluten free and no allergens …

        • Joe says

          Regina, thanks much. While I never heard of baobab before you mentioned it I looked it up and found its wikipedia page
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adansonia

          Adansonia is its latin name. Because it has fiber, Im sure it has some healthy properties. Im not sure if there is any evidence its better than other foods that have fiber. Ill add it to my list of things to take a look at.

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