Baobab Oil: Benefits, Usage, Properties, and Side Effects
The baobab oil benefits are plentiful and are used in various domains like dental care, skin care, and hair care. It is a popular oil the beauty industry and has been used as a primary ingredient in natural cosmetic products.
You can either combine it with other essential oils or use it on your skin directly. It is a wonderful moisturizer and one among the oils that can be added raw in various cosmetic products.
Being a prominent oil from Africa, let’s comprehend about Baobab in detail.
What is Baobab Oil?
Baobab Oil is an incredible oil that is fortified with different vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. It is a well-known hard-pressed oil, extracted mainly from the Baobab fruit’s seeds.
The Baobab Oil is rich in sterols, palmitic acid, vitamins A, F, C, D, and E. Due to the presence of the sterols and vitamins, baobab is used as a key ingredient in many hair care and skin care products.
It belongs to the family Malvaceae and is also popular as a defining icon of African bushland (1).
Scientific Name of Baobab Oil
The botanical name of baobab is Adansonia digitata L.
History of Baobab Oil
Baobab or bottle tree is 30 meters tall and an 11-meter thick succulent. It originated from Africa and is primarily found in the African continent. You can also see them growing in the arid zones of Madagascar, mainland Africa, Arabia, and Australia (2).
Baobab is one of the most spectacular trees in Africa and has been nicknamed as the “upside-down tree” for its appearance. When you look at it, you will notice that its roots grow upwards.
The Africans consider this as a wonder plant for its specificities. The tree of baobab signifies life and positivity.
The lifespan of baobab trees are very long – usually, thousands of years. In fact, a few baobab trees in Madagascar have been known to have existed from the time of Roman civilization and are reported to be 1200 years old.
It is said to be a prehistoric species, which had split into the continent as long as 200 million years. It can survive even the toughest environmental conditions – extreme drought and hot winds.
It is found in 32 African countries and can easily survive for 5000 years. No wonder they are nicknamed as the wonder tree or tree of life. (3)
Color, Consistency, and Smell of Baobab Oil
- The color of baobab oil is deep yellow or deep golden.
- The consistency of baobab oil is thick, heavy, and rich.
- The smell of baobab oil is earthy and nutty.
Properties of Baobab Oil
- Antioxidant – Scavenge free radicals
- Antidiabetic – Treats diabetes
- Anti-inflammatory – Reduces inflammation
- Anti-pyretic – Lowering down the fever by controlling endopyrogens
- Emollient – Soothes or softens the skin
- Analgesic – Relieves pain
- Cicatrizant – Heals wounds
- Immunomodulatory – Boost immune system
- Anti-stimulant – nullify the effects of stimulants such as alchohol
- Astringent – Helps contract the skin
- Non-siccative – Prevents the moisture from drying fast
- Rejuvenator — Rejuvenates the skin cells
- Insulator – Protects the skin from adverse effects of temperature variation.
- Insecticide – Kills or repels insects and bugs
Chemical Compounds in Baobab Oil
Baobab is the richest source of calcium, potassium, and magnesium. It has comparatively fewer amounts of microelements such as iron (Fe), zinc (Zn), and copper (Cu).
It also contains few anti-nutritional substances such as tannin, phytate, and trypsin inhibitors. The essential vitamins in baobab include vitamin A, C, E, and D. The other essential fatty acids in it are Omega 3, 6, and 9.
Health Benefits of Baobab Oil
Though baobab oil benefits are abundant, the most noteworthy ones proven by different studies in recent years include:
- Acts as a skin nutrient
- Boosts hair growth
- Soothes inflamed scalp
- Treats swollen gums
- Lightens stretch marks
- Helps maintain gorgeous nails
- Fights osteoporosis
- Used as an insecticide
- Eases rheumatoid arthritis
- Reduces melasma or hyperpigmentation
1. Acts as a skin nutrient
Baobab is a rich source of vitamin C, making it great for skin care. It plays an important role in collagen and elastin formation. It is apparent that collagens help in skin tightening.
Besides vitamin C, baobab is an abundant source of antioxidants. Together with vitamin C & E, baobab oil, when used regularly, has the ability to tighten the facial muscles. Thus, delaying the aging signs like wrinkles, fine lines, and dark spots. (11)
The antioxidants in it scavenge free radicals and give a flawless skin. This oil is also reported to works on eczema and psoriasis. Being a rich source of vitamin C and antioxidants, it prevents cell death and heals psoriasis. It works against eczema, skin dryness, and inflammation.
You can even use this as a natural skin cleanser. When combined with a carrier oil like jojoba, it gives out amazing results. When combined with grapeseed oil or lavender oil, it nourishes the skin deeply and improves the skin texture naturally.
Apart from the above, it is highly effective in clearing dark circles.
2. Boosts hair growth
One of the best baobab oil benefits is its ability to maintain healthy hair. Be it dry hair, dull hair, or damaged hair, baobab can do wonders. (12)
When mixed with a few drops of lavender oil and 1/3rd cup of jojoba oil, it acts as a hair tonic. Use this mixture to gently massage your scalp and further, apply it on your hairs – from roots to tips. Tie your head with a warm towel and leave it for an hour. Wash off with a mild shampoo to leave your tresses silky and shiny.
Doing this on a regular basis will give a bounce of nourishment. It locks the moisture and strengthens the hair roots by increasing the blood supply throughout the scalp.
3. Soothes inflamed scalp
When massaged gently on the inflamed parts of your scalp or your entire scalp, baobab oil can soothe the inflammation fast. It nourishes the scalp, reduces irritation, controls the cytokines in the cells, and decreases inflammation.
4. Treats swollen gums
Baobab oil is highly helpful in treating swollen gums or infected gums. However, the redness, pain, and inflammation can be healed by applying baobab oil gently on the swollen gums.
5. Lightens stretch marks
Whether you have acquired those ugly stretch marks after pregnancy or have been there for years, baobab oil can come in handy. Apply good amounts of baobab oil on your stretch marks and massage every day for 20 minutes before going for a bath.
This helps reduce the appearance of stretch marks by triggering the collagen and elastin fibers synthesis underneath the skin (13).
6. Helps maintain gorgeous nails
Since baobab oil is a rich source of vitamin C, E, and other essential antioxidants, it makes it a great ingredient for nails. Nails soaked in baobab oil softens them quickly, promotes healthier growth, improves texture, and prevents them from being ruptured, brittle, or broken.
7. Fights osteoporosis
It can be easily postulated that being a great source of calcium, an oil like baobab can deal with low calcium related issues. In fact, its fruit can also be given to a pregnant woman to meet her calcium needs.
Talking about a problem like osteoporosis, baobab is proven highly beneficial (14). Osteoporosis is a condition that usually occurs in women above the age 50 (usually, after menopause) and in men above the age 70 (when there is less testosterone).
However, with baobab, it can be treated. Whether you consume the seed of baobab through diet or apply its oil topically, it raises the calcium level in the body and prevents osteoporosis.
8. Used as an insecticide
Baobab oil is a rich source of cyclopropyl or cyclopropenyl functional group. These groups affect the metabolism in insects. When the metabolism of insects are affected, it becomes tough for them to survive. Thus, making the oil of baobab as a potent insecticide and disinfectant (15).
9. Eases rheumatoid arthritis
Inflammation usually comes with pain, redness, a rise in temperature, and swelling. However, baobab is reported to be an antipyretic and anti-inflammatory agent, influencing and controlling the pain to a great extent.
Since baobab oil is a rich source of saponins and terpenoids, it is effective in treating a condition like arthritis. It reduces pain and the urea levels deposited in the joints.
10. Reduces melasma/hyperpigmentation
Melasma is a common disorder where dark patches of melanin appear on the skin. The common causes include pregnancy, sun exposure, stress, and other environmental factors.
Alpha-linoleic acid and linoleic acid help in reducing the expansion of dendrites of melanosomes. Now, the PUFA (Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids) in baobab oil works as a skin lightening agent. It inhibits the melanin production in melanocytes (16, 17).
In the epidermis, the metabolism of PUFAs is highly active. Linoleic acid, the major 18-carbon n-6 PUFA in normal epidermis is metabolized via the 15-lipoxygenase pathway mainly into 13-hydroxyoctadecadienoic acid, which possesses anti-proliferative properties. Dietary deficiency of linoleic acid results in a scaly and pruritic skin disorder similar to AD.
Since baobab oil is a rich source of all the above mentioned fatty acids, it is helpful in healing ruptured skin, reducing inflammation, and eliminating hyperpigmentation naturally.
Uses of Baobab Oil
- Making Baskets & Ropes: The fiber of the baobab bark is mainly used for making baskets, ropes, musical strings, waterproof hats, and clothes.
- Cooking Like A Vegetable: The leaves of baobab can be used in cooking – just the way you cook spinach. It is an edible vegetable and can be used to treat asthma, kidney problems, mosquito bites, and bladder problems.
- Using It In Cosmetics: Its rich source of vitamin A, D, C, and E make it an effective and key ingredient for both hair care and skin care products.
What Blends with Baobab Oil?
Though baobab oil can be blended with any natural ingredient, it works the best with:
- Jojoba oil
- Sea buckthorn oil
- Grapeseed oil
- Lavender oil
- Tea tree oil
- Geranium oil
- Carrot seed oil
- Lemon oil
- Peppermint oil
How To Use Baobab Oil?
Baobab oil is a very effective and yet highly sensitive. It is one of the richest sources of calcium and antioxidants. Since it is not an essential oil, it is not potent in nature.
Therefore, baobab oil can be used directly on the skin as an ointment. However, consuming it orally can be harmful, as it has some toxic compounds that cannot be ingested.
On the other hand, baobab fruit, its leaves, and seeds are edible. You can use its young leaves in different soups. Even its tender roots are edible.
It can be used as an ointment, massage oil, beauty oil, and anti-inflammatory drug. It nourishes both skin and hair. Hence, a deep gentle massage of baobab oil (blended with a few other oils) makes it an amazing beauty product.
Side Effects of Baobab Oil
Baobab oil is safe for use as an edible oil in food, for skin and dry hair. It has many therapeutic properties and using it is completely safe.
Any complication after using baobab oil is not yet reported. It is not only widely used in Africa but also pregnant women use it as a diet supplement. So far, occurrences of irritation or allergies after the use of baobab oil have not been reported.
Since the use of this oil dates back to the prehistoric era, it can be considered as a safe oil for multiple purposes.