In the previous article, we spoke about African ‘superfoods’, and how they are really indigenous, traditional medicines which we are bringing to you under the term ‘superfood’. We gave a few examples of edibles… but what about our super, medicinal skin foods?
The African super-skin foods we bring you have ancient wisdom and a long history of traditional uses in their DNA – what most people see only touches the surface, but in reality their benefits and uses go much deeper than, and beyond, the skin. Once more, Mama Africa and her many medicines provide the best balance of properties to restore our bodies and make them glow with the essence of Mother Nature herself.
Raw, ethically sourced, sustainable and local. Those are the main tenants of our ethos. Add medicinal to the mix and it makes the most sense to draw from our own continent and its traditions to nurture ourselves in the best way.
Here are a few examples of the traditional uses of our African super-skin foods and oils. Note that all of these are amazing to use in making your own skin creams, masks and other yummy skin treats – stay tuned for a post with our recipes!
Moringa oil is cold extracted from the seeds of Moringa oleifera. This oil has been praised in the medicinal books of ancient Greece and Rome and is mainly used topically on the skin and hair. Apart from being an excellent skin moisturiser and powerful hair conditioner, it has a plethora of other uses for the treatment of various conditions. Could you ever have guessed, moringa oil is good for liver health? Apparently it can assist in treating those with poor liver health due to toxicity – taken internally, it can reduce liver damage. It is also used as a rheumatic oil and when applied to painful, arthritic joints, will reduce swelling and inflammation considerably as well as provide relief from pain. One of its traditional uses was the treatment of hysteria, to calm emotionally unstable people down. Another surprising property is that it reduces and relieves gum inflammation when applied topically to the gums. A few home remedies including using it as a sleeping aid (massaging it onto the head with some essential oil), in soap making, as a perfume based and as a cooking oil!
Wild harvested cold pressed Marula Seed oil is known traditionally as the elixir of youth. This highly healing oil is widely used for its medicinal benefits by African women and men alike, and has been part of beauty rituals for centuries to protect the skin and hair from the harsh and dry weather conditions. It is a multi-purpose, nutrient dense oil containing powerful antioxidants and essential fatty acids, known to reverse photo-damage, prevent premature aging, and reduce blemishes and age spots. Furthermore, it has been used in stimulating hair growth and improving the health of the follicles. The oil was also traditionally used for cooking and as a meat preservative.
Baobab oil is derived from the cold pressed fruit seeds of the Adansonia tree, one of the most characteristic and iconic trees of Africa, and another of Africa’s best kept secrets. Great for all skin types, baobab oil has healing properties that work to even complexion, regenerate cells, and deeply nourish your delicate facial skin and even your hair. It works wonderfully to heal eczemas, psoriasis and skin conditions. It assists with skin elasticity and boosts collagen production. Furthermore, it is rich in powerful antioxidants which protect skin against free radical damage. It is also perfect as a massage oil, due to its silky texture, is ideal for hot oil conditioning of the hair and scalp, is an effective home remedy for stretch marks and to treat nails to prevent breakage. Traditionally, has been used extensively to cure swollen and infected gums to boot!
The oil extracted from the neem plant has many miraculous medicinal properties for the scalp and hair as well as some serious skin ailments like psoriasis and dermatitis. It is also an excellent moisturizing oil with insecticidal and medicinal properties. It is packed full of anti-viral, anti-fungal, antiseptic, antibacterial and anti-parasitic properties as well as vitamin E, other essential amino acids and some percentages of fatty acids, and has been used traditionally for treating many skin diseases such as eczema, psoriasis, skin allergies, ring worm, chickenpox… the list goes on!
Taken from this article on traditional skin care, here are some of the thousands of uses for this versatile oil:
“*Anti-viral: capable of destorying viruses *Anti-fungal: able to destroy fungi *Anti-microbial: able to inhibit or destroy the growth of disease-casing organisms *Anti-bacterial: able to destroy or inhibit the growth of bacteria *Anti-inflammatory: able to reduce inflammation *Analgesic: able to relieve pain *Alterative: able to cure or restore health *Anti-thelmintic: capable of expelling or destroying parasitic worms. *Anti-feedant: a substance that deters or inhibits feeding by an insect but does not kill it *Anti-caracinogenic: reducesthe occurence of cancers *Anti-arthritic: effective in treatment of arthritis *Anti-gastric: able to prevent or destroy ulcers *Anti-histamine: agaent that serves to inhibit the release or action of histamines and serves to reduce or neutralize the effect of histamine in an allergic response.”
African Black Soap
African Black Soap originates from West Africa, particularly Ghana and Nigeria, where it has been used for centuries to bathe with and reduce body odour. Women traditionally used it in their skincare routine before and after pregnancy as a moisturiser and to keep from getting stretch marks, and even bathed their babies with it because of its mild and gentle nature. As well as on the skin, it has been and is still used as for the hair, as a shampoo and to relieve itchiness and dryness of the scalp. Furthermore, this versatile and multipurpose super-soap has been used to alleviate certain skin conditions such as eczema, and treat oily skin. As it cleanses so gently, it’s also ideal for people with rosacea, rashes and dryness. It was typically made from a mixture of water and the ashes of plantain skins, cacao pod powder and palm oil, and contains plantain extract, which has antibacterial properties that may help treat acne breakouts.
Raw Shea Butter
An ancient, trusted African beauty treatment raw shea butter has been used for centuries to hydrate, revitalise and repair skin. Nourishing body butter in its purest form, this organic skin loving nut butter has a long impressive list of benefits, and it has the amazing natural ability to deeply nourish and repair even the most damaged skin. The people of Africa have been using shea for literally thousands of years for everything from beauty and baby balms, to infection protection and as a natural childbirth aid. African women cover their pregnant bellies with shea butter in order to prevent stretch marks, can also help ease the pains of childbirth. It has also been used for centuries to moisturize and protect the skin from harsh weather conditions as it is so incredibly thick and creates a protective barrier on the skin. Great for dry skin, dry scalp, chapped lips and cracked heels, elbows and knees. Also used to stimulate hair growth and heal scarring and in some cases eczema and dermatitis. Natural anti-inflammatory that helps to heal minor wounds, sunburn, rashes and insect bites. Keeps skin soft, supple and healthy.
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