On the African continent, shea butter has been used for many years. In Egypt, even in the time of Cleopatra, long caravans were equipped with more than a dozen clay jugs, in which this valuable oil was transported and stored.
Shea butter (other names — shea butter, or butirospermum) is of African origin: it has been used in local medicine for centuries. It is extracted from the seeds of the fruits of a unique tree that is not found on other continents. The Latin name for this rare tree, Butyrospermum parkii, is too long and difficult to pronounce often, which is why it is called shea or shea in local dialects. It grows in Sudan and some countries of West Africa, in particular in Nigeria, Ghana and Mali.
With an average age of 250-300 years, the fruits of the long-lived shea are very similar to miniature avocados or horse chestnuts, but with fragrant pulp. The oil itself is produced by pressing only selected fruits. It is a hard granular and heterogeneous mass of white or slightly cream color with an unobtrusive peanut aroma. Shea butter becomes liquid at a temperature of 35 ° C, so it is convenient to use it as a massage oil — it spreads easily over the skin and is perfectly absorbed.
By the way, Africans have also found use for the production residues of this oil: they are used in cooking (in the form of sauce and frying), as fuel for lamps and in construction as an insulation material.
Most of the shea butter is triglycerides. These substances are formed by fatty acids, namely palmitic, linoleic, stearic, myristic, arachidic and oleic. The composition of this product also includes unsaponifiable fats, represented by caristerols (these are the active substances of the pulp of the bones of shea fruits). It is this «chemical tandem» of unsaponifiable fats and fatty acids that makes shea butter very popular in cosmetology. About 70 years ago, scientific researchers noticed that Africans using this remedy had almost no skin diseases and had surprisingly firm and smooth skin.
The use and medicinal properties of shea butter
Shea butter as an anti-inflammatory and decongestant is used for symptoms of a cold, SARS, flu, as well as for sprains and muscles and joint pain. It has an emollient, moisturizing, regenerating, antiseptic and protective effect. Very often, shea butter is used as a therapeutic and prophylactic agent for psoriasis, eczema, dermatosis, burns, cracks, ulcers and problem skin.
In cosmetology and aromatherapy, this amazing product has been very popular for over 20 years. And most of all, its unique properties are valued in the skin care industry. Many cosmetologists call shea butter «transport» — for its ability to penetrate deep into the skin and enrich its layers with various useful components of cosmetics. It is widely used in the care of not only the skin of the face, but also the lips and hair. Quite often, shea butter is included in anti-aging cosmetics — it stimulates collagen synthesis, improves complexion, improves skin tone and makes its texture more dense, reduces the depth of wrinkles. This is a great tool for the care of dull, tired and aging skin. It is also recommended for pregnant women — to prevent stretch marks on the skin of the abdomen and chest.
In addition, shea butter is also known as an effective means of protecting the skin from various aggressive environmental influences, including ultraviolet radiation. In the beach season, it is recommended to apply it not only on the face and neck, but also on all open areas of the body.
Not so long ago, it was determined that this product has one rather rare contraindication — sensitivity to latex. The thing is that shea butter contains a small amount of natural latex. Fortunately, allergies to this substance are rare.
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