What is Shea Butter? Why would I want to use it?

The fat of the nut of the African Shea tree (Vitellaria paradoxa) is the source of Shea butter. The traditional use of the butter is to reduce the appearance of fine lines, scars and stretch marks, and to ease a variety of skin irritations, such as psoriasis, eczema and sunburn. Makers of cosmetics also mix this natural substance with other botanical ingredients. Shea butter is ideal for the topical application of cosmetic and medicinal formulas, because it melts on contact and is readily absorbed into the skin, without leaving a greasy residue.

Shea nut fat

Shea butter contains several derivatives of cinnamic acid, a compound common to cinnamon and balsam trees. In the May 2010 issue of the “Journal of Oleo Science,” Toshihiro Akihisa and fellow researchers published the results of a study that investigated the effects of four triterpene acids and four triterpene cinnamates isolated from Shea butter on tissue swelling in mouse skin. The scientists reported that Shea butter not only demonstrated anti-inflammatory benefits, but one compound, lupeol cinnamate, also prevented tumor development in a carcinogenesis test, a procedure in which cancer cells are literally “grown” in a culture dish.

Shea butter contains vitamins A and E, as well as catechins, plant antioxidants also found in green tea. While it is unclear how well vitamins A and E in raw Shea butter are absorbed, there is evidence to suggest that cinnamic acid esters in Shea fat help to prevent skin damage from ultraviolet radiation.

Raw Shea Butter

How can Shea Butter benefit me?
Shea Butter can provide relief from everything from just dry skin to many minor dermatological diseases (if you have a serious skin condition, you should see a doctor). It has been clinically shown to provide benefits. Here are some of the benefits of Shea Butter for the skin:

Have you ever used Shea Butter? If so, how? in what?

Article Resources:
http://homeguides.sfgate.com/shea-butter-benefits-79280.html
http://www.deyale.com/deyale/77-shea-butter-and-its-health-benefits.html

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