Baobab Seed Oil
Adansonia digitata L.
1. Origin and Geographic Distribution
Baobabs (Adansonia digitata) can be found in Africa South of the Sahara’ Southern and Eastern Africa: Ethiopia (in the South), Eritrea, Kenya, Tanzania, Sudan (in the South), Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia (in the very North), Angola, Mozambique, Somalia, South Africa (in the North, Limpopo Province) West Africa: Burkina Faso, Kamerun, Tchad, Kongo, Gambia, Ghana, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Togo.
The Baobab is called the Tree of Life by many peoples of Africa because it is such a special tree with so many uses. This is really an icon of Africa. Baobab seed oil is made from the bean-like seeds, covered with a whitish edible powder (Cream of Tartar), within the hard shell covering.
3. Oil Characteristics and Properties
The oil is quite viscous, with a rich, silky feel and a mild aroma. Baobab oil is an excellent moisturizer and ideal for numerous cosmetic applications. It is one of the few oils which added in its raw state in cosmetic products. Baobab oil is one of the most prominent oils from Africa.
The characteristics has been thoroughly documented and published by I Vermaak from Tshwane University of Technology. The publication appeared in the South African Journal of Botany with title: African seed oils of commercial importance —Cosmetic applications is well worth reading.
Baobab oil is extremely stable with a highly variable shelf life estimated to be between 2 to 5 years.
Some findings of various studies
- · The iodine value of the oil is 87.9 g/100 g and therefore it is classified as a non-drying oil (Nkafamiya et al., 2007).
- · In relatively small quantities of up to 20%, the oil may be incorporated into another carrier oil or base (Wren and Stucki, 2003).
- · The oil contains saturated (33%), monounsaturated (36%) and polyunsaturated (31%) fatty acids
- · Palmitic and oleic acids are major constituents of the oil (Andrianaivo-Rafehivola et al., 1993) and investigation of the oil stability index (OSI) revealed results comparable to olive oil and evening primrose oil.
- · Baobab oil displayed the slowest rate of oxidation (8.2 h) compared to olive (5.4h) and evening primrose oil, (3.1 h).
- · ß-Sitosterol(80% of the total sterols) is one of the major sterolconstituents present in baobab seed oil.
- · Other sterols includecampesterol (8.3%) and stigmasterol (2.9%).
- · In recent years, baobab oil has been added to the list of fixed oils commonly included in cosmetic products.
- · Baobab oil will not burn the skin when applied as such, and it is said to be non-irritating as well as non-sensitising (Wren and Stucki, 2003).
- · Like avocado oil, baobab oil is highly penetrating, deeply nourishing and softens dry skin. It is known to restore and re-moisturise the epidermis (PhytoTrade Africa).
- · Several vitamins, including vitamins A, D, E and F, arepresent in baobab oil (Nkafamiya et al., 2007). Vitamins A and F are polyunsaturated fatty acids and these acids are directly implicated in the rejuvenation and renewal of cell membranes, while vitamin E is a superior anti-oxidant, with an anti-ageing effect.
- · Baobab oil is ideal to help treat dry and damaged skin, is used for intensive hair care and its soothing properties are helpful for eczema and psoriasis treatments.
- · Baobab oil is considered to be a natural source of vitamin D3 which increases calcium absorption and decreases blood pressure in the elderly (Wasserman, 2004).
- · The oil is said to alleviate pain from burns and regenerates the epithelial tissues in a short time, thereby improving skin tone and elasticity.
4. Methods of Oil Extraction
The Baobab seeds are removed from the fruit shell and powdery inner part where after it is washed clean and dried before further extraction or decortication is done.
The two current methods of oil extraction are:
- The kernels are extracted from the seed husks by means of a mechanical decorticator which removes the hard, outer husk. The kernels are then sieved out for pressing.
- The kernels are pressed without decortication.
The kernels are pressed out by means of screw presses. These presses can be operated manually or driven by electric motors.
5. Potential for Community Development
The large scale potential of wild harvesting of baobab products such as seed and fresh fruit lends itself to job creation and poverty alleviation projects. In many of the high-density Baobab areas, much of the fruit goes to waste every year. These can be picked up and sold to producers of seed oil and valuable income can be generated.
6. Industry Studies & Links
Mander, M. 1998. Marketing of indigenous medicinal plants in South Africa: a case study in KwaZulu-Natal. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome.
Twine, W. 2004. Medicinal bark harvesting and yields in woodlands: a case study from southern Maputaland. In: M.J. Lawes, H.A.C. Eeley, C.M. Shackleton and B.G.S. Geach (eds.), Indigenous Forests and Woodlands in South Africa: Policy, People and Practice (pp. 533-537), University of Natal Press, Pietermaritzburg.
Prota 14: Vegetable oils/Oléagineux . Record display. Adansonia grandidieri Baill Baobab, Adansonia Digitata L. By M. Sidibe, J. T. Williams, A. Hughes, N. Haq, R. W. Smith
Three major tree nut oils of southern central Africa: Their uses and future as commercial base oils. N. Zimba, S. Wren A. Stucki. International Journal of Aromatherapy
Modifications of hepatic drug metabolizing enzyme activities in rats fed baobab seed oil containing cyclopropenoid fatty acids. A.A. Andrianaivo-Rafehivola, M.-H. Siess, E.M. Gaydou. Food and Chemical Toxicology
Raimondo, D., van Staden, L., Foden, W., Victor, J.E., Helme, N.A., Turner, R.C., Kamundi, D.A. and Manyama, P.A. 2009. Red List of South African Plants. Strelitzia 25.
South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria.
Taylor, Frank.1975 to Current. Veld Products Research and Development and Impact on Poverty Alleviation Programs in Botswana. (Personal communication and documented database)
Vermaak I. Kamatao, G.P.P., Komane-Mofokeng, B, Viljoen, A.M.,Beckett, K., African Seed Oils of Commercial Importance —Cosmetic applications. South African Journal of Botany, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Faculty of Science, Tshwane University of Technology, Private Bag X680, Pretoria 0001, South Africa