The Beauty of Baobab

Baobab Adansonia digitata – means “Tree of Life” and has a long history of use in traditional African medicine, most scientists believe its name is derived from the Arabic name buhibab meaning fruit with many seeds. 

The baobab is a massive deciduous tree easily distinguishable by its huge trunk. It is regarded as the largest succulent plant in the world with a diameter of 10–12 m and a height of 23 meters or more. It is estimated that it takes between eight and twenty-three years before the baobab produces seeds and the mature plant (over 60 years) can produce more than 160–250 fruits per year.

It is known by the local people as the tree of life.” A large tree can hold up to 4,500 liters of water; its fibrous bark can be used for rope and cloth; its edible leaves and fruit can provide relief from sickness, and its hollow trunk can provide shelter for as many as 40 people.

Baobab has a long history of use as a medicinal product. The botanist and physician Prospero Alpini (1553-1617) wrote in his book De plantis Aegypti liber that fresh baobab fruit had a very pleasing taste, and that the Ethiopians used it on burns and rashes and to cool the effects of serious fevers. For these afflictions, they either chewed the flesh of the fruit or pressed it into a juice with added sugar. Alpini also wrote that in Cairo, Egypt, where fresh baobab fruit was unobtainable, Egyptians made preparations from its powder to treat fevers, dysentery, and bloody wounds — an indication that this plant has been used medicinally for centuries. 

Carbon-dating techniques and analyses of core samples suggest that baobab trees with 10m diameters maybe around 2,000 years old.
Local medicinal uses for baobab are richly varied: 

  • LALOThe bark, along with dried leaves, is made into a preparation called lalo that is used to induce sweating and reduce fever.
  • GUM - The bark contains a quantity of edible, insoluble, acidic, tragacanth-like gum, which is used to disinfect skin ulcers and wounds. Mucilages made from baobab phloem sap in the bark are used as a remedy for gastrointestinal inflammation.
  • CARDIOTONIC -The bark also is popular as a cardiotonic; this traditional use has been confirmed experimentally by researchers who demonstrated the positive inotropic effect of an ethanolic bark extract on isolated atrial muscles of rats.

The baobab is extremely important to humans and animals in the dry areas of Africa because it offers shelter, a source of nutrition, clothing as well as raw material for many useful items. This tree is revered in Africa for its medicinal and nutritional value. The plant parts are used to treat various ailments such as diarrhea, malaria and microbial infections. It is reported that it is an excellent antioxidant due to the vitamin C content which is seven to ten times higher than the vitamin C content of oranges.

What are the skincare benefits Of Baobab?

Derived from the seeds of baobab (monkey bread) tree, a typical African tree and one of the most precious plants on earth. The oil obtained from the seeds of the fruit and have long been used to treat skin ailments, recent research demonstrates the following benefits: 

  • Suitable for use on the skin as it is non-irritating and non-allergenic. 
  • Excellent for restoring and moisturizing the skin due to its high penetrability and nourishing properties. It can also be used to treat eczema and psoriasis. 
  • Baobab oil contains several vitamins that are essential for skincare. These include vitamins A and F (Fatty Acids) rejuvenation and cell renewal, vitamin E antioxidants and supporting aging skin health, along with vitamin D3 which contributes to skin cell growth, repair, and metabolism.
  • The oil is said to alleviate pain from burns and regenerates the epithelial tissues in a short time, thereby improving skin tone and elasticity.
  • Studies have also shown that the oil contains antioxidants that can protect the skin against premature aging and prevents the appearance of wrinkles. 
  • Alone or combined with other ingredients, it is also used to aid in skin healing (small cuts, chapping).
  • Omegas 3, 6 & 9 fatty acids help maintain the integrity of the skin cell membrane.
  • Linoleic acid (Omega 6) found in baobab seed oil - moisturizes the skin, aids in the healing process of dermatoses and sunburns and is used for the treatment of Acne vulgaris. 

/ FAST FACTS /

PLANT PART USED: The Seeds
CULTIVATION METHOD: Certified Organic, unrefined, fair trade
INCI NOMENCLATURE: Adansonia digitata
METHOD OF EXTRACTION: Cold Pressed
ORIGIN: Senegal
APPEARANCE: Pale yellow to yellow liquid
AROMA: A light, nutty scent.
HARVESTING FACTS: The Fruits are April and May, and flowers are harvested from November to December. The tree favors a dry, woodland habitat with rocky, well-drained soil.

/ COMPOUNDS /

FATTY ACIDS
Palmitic acid (C16:0) ca. 20-25%,
Oleic acid (C18:1) ca 30-40%
Linoleic acid (C18:2) ca. 25-30%
Stearic Acid 5%
Cyclopropenic fatty acids: Baobab also contains terpenoids, such as α- and β-amyrin palmitate, β-sitosterol, and ursolic acid.
Unsaponifiables: Sterols 4900 ppm total phytosterols among them 3800 beta-sitosterol (75%) which offer anti-inflammatory, regenerative and skin barrier protection properties. 
Triterpenic compounds offer defense from tissue matrix degradation.
VITAMINS
Vitamin A and E
- Antioxidants vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene and Vitamin E assist with skin healing, promoting cell regeneration and collagen production.
Vitamin D - Essential for glowing, healthy skin, helps retain serious moisture, reviving skin for a smoother, softer and more radiant appearance. Elasticity is boosted while fine lines are plumped and minimized. 

/ CONCLUSION / I have incorporated Certified Organic Baobab Seed Oil into the formulation of our Australian Cell Affinity Coactive Serum launching late September 2019. Baobabs protective, nourishing, moisturizing, soothing and regenerating properties make this highly penetrating oil a 'must-have' skin savior.

Until next time..

Be human, be kind, be you.  

 

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/ REFERENCES /

An updated review of Adansonia digitata: A commercially important African tree 
G. P. P. KamatouI. Vermaak A.M.Viljoen

BOOK: Power Of The Seed - Susan M Parker

Alpini, P. De Plantis Aegypti. Venice; 1592.

Vermaak I, Kamatou GPP, Komane-Mofokeng B, Viljoen AM, Beckett K. African seed oils of commercial importance — cosmetic applications. South African Journal of Botany. 2011; 77(4):920-933.

Baum DA, Small RL, Wendel JF. Biogeography and floral evolution of baobabs (Adansonia, Bombacaceae) as inferred from multiple data sets. Syst Biol. 1998;47(2):181-207.

Beauty in Baobab: a pilot study of the safety and efficacy of Adansonia digitata seed oil. Authors: Baatile M.Komane IlzeVermaak Guy P.P.Kamatou BeverleySummers Alvaro M.Viljoen

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