[Total : 2    Moyenne : 2.5/5]

In the last few years many natural ingredients, especially from the Amazon, have been touted for their antioxidant and cosmeceutical properties. An African natural—Baobab—also has a tremendous amount to offer the skin.

Baobab is an exotic natural that tightens and tones the skin, moisturizes and encourages skin cell regeneration. Baobab trees (Adansonia digitata) are special and distinctive features of the African savanna. The trees can live for up to 1,000 years and are some of the largest in the world. The tree survives prolonged droughts by storing up to 30,000 gallons of water in its massive, fibrous, sponge-like trunk, which can be up to 30 to 60 feet in diameter. To access this water, the Kalahari bushmen use hollow pieces of grass (much like a straw) to suck the water out. Hollowed out baobab trunks in the vicinity of villages are used for water storage. Thus, the Baobab tree is also known as the “Tree of Life”.

The Baobab Fruit … An African Treasure for Skin

The Baobab Fruit … An African Treasure for Skin

Information about the Baobab

The Baobab tree has also been called “the upside-down tree” because its weirdly shaped branches resemble roots. The fruit of the African baobab tree is particularly appealing to baboons, hence its other nickname, “monkey-bread tree”. Although the tree is not native to Egypt, the fruit was known in the herb and spice markets of Cairo as early as 2500 B.C. It was made famous in the West by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s French fable “The Little Prince.”2 The baobab was approved for European markets in 2008, and FDA soon followed suit. The fruit’s dry pulp is now sold as an ingredient for smoothies and cereal bars.3

The tree’s white, powdery fruit is classed as a functional food, rich in specific nutrients and phyto-chemicals, and are promoted as being able to improve health condition and/or disease prevention. The fruit is bottle or cucumber shaped and has a woody outer shell covered by velvety yellowish, sometimes greenish hairs. The fruit pulp is split into mealy agglomerates that enclose several seeds. The Baobab tree is a vital food source for many local tribes, cattle and game; the fruit contains both pulp and seeds which are eaten. The pulp can also be mixed with water and made into a drink; the seeds of the baobab tree can be eaten alone or mixed with millet and seedlings and young leaves are eaten like asparagus or are used in salads.

Its benefits on our skin

The Baobab fruit has six times as much vitamin C as an orange, 50 percent more calcium than spinach and is a plentiful source of antioxidants. Its antioxidant activity is four times that of a kiwi or apple pulp. The leaves are an excellent source of vitamin A, calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum and phosphorus, and the seeds are packed with protein. 4 Vitamins A and B1, B2, B3, B6 and dietary fibers are also present in Baobob.5 Baobab oil is a clear, golden yellow oil that with a slight nutty odor. The oil is obtained by cold pressing or Co2 extraction of the dried baobab seeds. Baobab oil contains fatty acids (omega 3-6-9), sterols, proteins, potassium, magnesium calcium, iron, zinc and amino acids. Topical application of this nourishing, antioxidant oil can help alleviate chronic dry skin and chronic bruising by improving skin elasticity and boosting epidermal softening.

Recent studies in Europe have revealed a multitude of skin benefits of Baobab. Leaf and bark extracts tighten and tone skin, while oil from the seeds moisturizes and encourages skin cell regeneration with vitamins A, D and E.6 Studies carried out in the laboratory showed doses between 400 and 800 mg/kg determine a marked anti-inflammatory effect and are able to reduce inflammation induced in the animal limb with formalin. This activity may be attributed to the presence of sterols, saponins and triterpenes in the aqueous extract. Clinically, skin care companies have found Baobab fruit and oil combats skin aging, helps improve skin firmness and strength by boosting the elastic quality of the skin, diminishes the look of facial lines, evens out skin tone, and refreshes and hydrates the skin.

Baobab has already been incorporated into several well-known skin care lines and has also been used in several French hair treatment gels and lip balms. Thus we can see that while Baobab has been discovered by some skin care companies, many more have yet to be introduced to its wonderful properties.


[Total : 1    Moyenne : 5/5]

The baobab tree was in the past perhaps best associated with tales of mystery and spirits– even evils ones– but rarely its intrinsic value.Many families, especially those from the central regions where the tree is common, did not view the baobab positively owing to lack of correct information, or the sheer impact of rumours peddled throughout history.

“It is a home for the Satan and spirits,” many children grew to believe, as that is how the tree was best described countrywide. However, the tree is not big-for-nothing. It has huge health benefits. Its fruit has tremendous values that have come to be appreciated as demonstrated recently at a food exhibition in Dar es Salaam.

New study shows positive attributes of baobab fruit

New study shows positive attributes of baobab fruit

Even in some traditional settings, the baobab has been recognized for its beneficial health and nutritional properties. One group called Mildor, which is based in the city and has 10 members, is doing the best it could to earn income by selling products made from the baobab fruits, while at the same time enhancing the health of its customers.

The group, established early this year, is making and selling baobab by- products from the seeds.
It was through training by the Small Industries Development Organisation (SIDO) that the group got the knowledge of making such products. Christine Masasa, a member of Mildor, says the baobab has many health benefits. “The oil and the powder have plenty of nutritional and medicinal properties,” she says.

Nutritious powder

Packed in a colourless nylon paper, the baobab powder looks pale in colour and has a unique tangy taste, which is described as “caramel pear with subtle tones of grapefruit”. The powder forms naturally inside the hard-shelled fruit of the tree.
According to Christine, the powder makes a tasty beverage, after soaking in water or milk.
She says the powder has amazingly high nutritional contents. It has more vitamin C than oranges, and more calcium than milk.

The fruit powder is also said to be rich with antioxidant elements, more than double the figures reported for pomegranates and cranberries, and more than three times the reported figure for blueberries.
It contains more potassium than apricots, bananas, peaches and apples, and also has magnesium content above that of bananas, apricots, peaches and apples.

The powder has higher antioxidant levels compared to other fruits including apples, apricots, bananas and peaches. It contains more iron than spinach and apples, in addition to containing higher levels of dietary fibre than most fruits including apples, peaches, apricots and bananas.

Pectin is one source of fibre in baobab and has been reported to have a role in reduction of total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, which might cause blockage of blood vessels.
In other countries in Africa and Europe baobab products, such as jams, teas, nutrition bars and powder ingredient mixes are already available.

Baobab leaves can be used as a dish and can heal stomach ulcers, typhoid, and an instant energy booster.

Golden oil

Mildor also extracts oil by cold-pressing the seeds of baobab. The semi-fluid golden coloured oil has a gentle scent and is rich in Vitamin A, B, C, D and F, and can be used as medicine for treatment of several diseases.
Christine says it is supposed to be taken two teaspoonfuls daily, and is said to increase body cells, body CD4, and build a healthy liver and kidney.

It also helps to remove cholesterol, body poison and reduce body weight. Welu Shagile, 65, is one of the users of the oil and she says it has helped her recover from weight problems. “I used the oil for two months and I have lost 15 kilogrammes. I was suffering from excessive tiredness and now I am fit to walk around and take care of myself,” she says.

Beauty

The edible oil can also be applied to the skin for beauty purposes. “This oil is perfect for people with albinism, since it protects skin damage by the sun,” Christine says.
The group does not throw away any thing that come from the seeds. The residue that remains after processing oil is mixed with coconut oil and used for making soap. According to Christine, the soap helps fight skin diseases, such as acne, sunburn, eczema and rashes.

Food security

Christine and her group collect the baobab seeds from Morogoro, Dodoma and Ruaha. She says the natives still maintain myths towards these trees.
“The villagers stare at us the way we keep collecting the seeds. We try to educate them that they are beneficial foods and should be gathered for large scale consumption,” she says.

The group educates the villagers on how to take care of the tree and eradicate the myths around it.
“They say that there are large snakes in the baobab trees, so they can’t collect the fruits,” she says.

A study conducted in 2000 by Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA), department of forestry, titled “Potentials of Non Wood Forest Products in Household Food Security in Tanzania” revealed that non-wood forest products (baobab included) are of vital importance as tools for coping with food shortage and famines.