From the "bottle tree",
the moisturizer used by Senegalese women
The mythical baobab tree, a member of the Bombacacea family, is native to Africa and Madagascar. It is the emblem of Senegal. The name comes from the Arabic "bu hibab", meaning fruit with many seeds. The baobab is renowned for its longevity - estimated at 3000 years - and for the breadth of its trunk, which can reach 12 meters in diameter.
It is remarkable for its exceptional resistance to drought. It is also noteworthy that all of its parts can be used to good purpose. For example, the baobab fruit is reputed for its high vitamin C content.
The fruit pulp is used in traditional medicine to reduce fever and fight diarrhea and dysentery.
The leaves have an anti-inflammatory effect, as well as being a febrifuge (fever reducer) and an expectorant. The bark can be made into rope, but is also used to fight fever as a replacement for cinchona bark.
Vegetable oil is obtained from the seeds contained in the fruit (thirty on average).
The seeds make up a large part of the fruit (roughly 40%).
They are composed of a thin, brownish outer skin (epicarp) and an oily core (endocarp), which is very rich in protein and fatty acids.
Baobab seeds produce between 10 and 30% oil.
The baobab seed is rich in protein - 35.2 g/100g - and in vitamin B1-B2 and PP.
Baobab oil is composed of almost one-third essential fatty acids, mainly linoleic acid (32%), and the same proportion of oleic acid (33%). It is rich in trace elements as well.
Palmitic acid C16:0 23.4 - 27.2 %
Palmitoleic acid C16:1 0.1 - 0.2 %
Stearic acid C18:0 3.1 - 9.0 %
Oleic acid C18:1 33.0 - 41.9%
Linoleic acid C18:2 w6 20.6 - 32.1 %
Linolenic acid C18:3 w3 0 - 1.5%
Arachidonic acid C20:0 0.3 - 1%
The percentage of unsaponifiable matter is between 2.8 and 3.8%.
Traditional qualities and uses
The oil is used for culinary purposes during traditional feasts, but is equally valued for its medicinal properties.
In the traditional Senegalese pharmacopoeia, the baobab seed is ground up and applied locally as a paste, because the very small amount of fat yielded by pressing makes the oil rare and expensive. The oil and the paste obtained are applied to fight allergies, soften and regenerate the skin and reduce inflammations. They relieve pain caused by burns and help tissue regenerate quickly.
Culinary UseThe oil is used for seasoning.
High essential fatty acid content in baobab oil makes it very effective for skin care: protecting, nourishing, softening, moisturizing, soothing and regenerating. It also protects the skin against premature aging and prevents the appearance of wrinkles. It is recommended for burns, whether caused by the sun or accident. It has a healing action on the skin.
Traditionally used as a massage oil because of its moisturizing and softening properties and ease of absorption, it relieves muscular aches and contractions.
Alone or combined with other ingredients, it is also used to help skin heal (small cuts, chapping) or as a mask for hair care (dry, brittle hair, split ends).
Indications for baobab oil are as follows:
care of sensitive, irritated skin
dry, brittle hair, split ends
chapped, cracked skin, prevention of stretch marks
muscular aches and contractions