Shea butter seed comes from the nuts of the Shea tree fruit which grows in Africa. The nuts contain oil that when extracted becomes Shea butter. It is a “Superfood” for the skin; rich in vitamins A, E and F, along with essential fatty acids and nutrients for healing.
What Is Shea Butter Seed?
Shea butter is a fat extracted from the nut of the African shea tree (Vitellaria paradoxa). It is usually yellow/greenish in color when raw, with Unrefined, refined, and Ultra-Refined Shea butter being ivory or white in color. Shea butter is a triglyceride (fat) derived mainly from stearic acid and oleic acid.
It is widely used in cosmetics as a moisturizer, salve or lotion. Shea butter is edible and is used in food preparation in Africa. Occasionally, the chocolate industry uses shea butter mixed with other oils as a substitute for cocoa butter, although the taste is noticeably different.
It is known by many local names, e.g., kaɗe or kaɗanya in Hausa language, eso ori in some parts of West Africa, and many others.
Health Benefits of Shea Butter Seed
Shea butter has three main benefits that no other natural seed oil has. Other oils or creams may be good moisturizers, but will not heal the skin like Shea butter.
Moisturizing: The high concentration of vitamins, essential fatty acids and nutrients closely match what the skin’s sebaceous glands produce. This makes pure Shea butter the best choice for dry or damaged skin.
Reducing inflammation: One of the unique compounds in pure Shea butter is cinnamic acid, closely related to the cinnamon in your kitchen. Cinnamic acid is a strong anti-inflammatory agent. Pure Shea butter has exceptionally high levels of cinnamic acid bound to other compounds, making it effective against skin inflammation.
Smoothing: Pure Shea butter works with the skin’s natural collagen production to protect and nourish the skin. The high concentrations of oleic, palmitic and linolenic acids naturally found in Shea butter help protect the skin as well.
Medical/Healing Benefits of Shea Butter Seed
Shea butter is sometimes used as a base for medicinal ointments. Some of the isolated chemical constituents are reported to have anti-inflammatory, emollient, and humectant properties. Shea butter has been used as a sunblocking lotion and some of its components “have limited capacity to absorb ultraviolet radiation”.
In Ghana, shea butter, locally known as nkuto (Akan) or nku (Ga), is applied as a lotion to protect the skin during the dry Harmattan season.
In Nigeria, shea butter is used for the management of sinusitis and relief of nasal congestion. It is massaged into joints and other parts of the body where pain occurs. it is also used for Catarrh, Hypertension, Diuretic, Antihelmintic.