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The Magic of Shea Butter

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If the herb arnica was the initial inspiration behind the creation of ChopSaver lip balm and therefore the very first ingredient, running a close second was shea butter, another wonderful substance I had never heard of before. Like my discovery of arnica, shea butter was suggested to me by a trumpet playing colleague. He also happened to be a skier and he told me he often used shea butter to protect his lips while out on the slopes. After I got some and tried it myself, I knew it would be the perfect base for my future experiments.

shea-butter

Shea butter is a natural plant extract with exceptional moisturizing properties which comes from the karite or shea tree (Vitellaria paradoxa) in Africa. The tree produces nuts for up to 200 years after reaching maturity. Shea butter is a particularly effective moisturizer due to its high content of fatty acids which are needed to retain skin moisture and elasticity. The following are two scientific studies on this remarkable natural skin moisturizer.

Studies

The excipient properties of shea butter compared with vaseline and lanolin.

J Pharm Belg. 2003;58(3):81-4.

Thioune O, Khouma B, Diarra M, Diop AB, Lô I.

Abstract

A shea butter ointment containing 3% aureomycin (clortetracyclin hydrocloride) was prepared and some of its macroscopic and microscopic characteristics were evaluated. Then, the release of the active ingredient was compared by UV spectrophotometry with those obtained when excipients such as petroleum jelly and lanoline were used. Results had shown that the shea butter ointment had satisfactory characteristics. In the other hand, it was found that shea butter released the aureomycin easily and at a faster rate than the other excipients.

 

Anti-inflammatory and chemopreventive effects of triterpene cinnamates and acetates from shea fat.

J Oleo Sci. 2010;59(6):273-80.

Akihisa T, Kojima N, Kikuchi T, Yasukawa K, Tokuda H, T Masters E, Manosroi A, Manosroi J.

Abstract

Four triterpene acetates, alpha-amyrin acetate (1a), beta-amyrin acetate (2a), lupeol acetate (3a), and butyrospermol acetate (4a), and four triterpene cinnamates, alpha-amyrin cinnamate (1c), beta-amyrin cinnamate (2c), lupeol cinnamate (3c), and butyrospermol cinnamate (4c), were isolated from the kernel fat (n-hexane extract) of the shea tree (Vitellaria paradoxa; Sapotaceae). Upon evaluation of these eight triterpene esters for inhibitory activity against 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA)-induced inflammation (1 microg/ear) in mice, all of the compounds tested exhibited marked anti-inflammatory activity, with ID50 values in the range of 0.15-0.75 micromol/ear, and among which compound 3c showed the highest activity with ID(50) of 0.15 micromol/ear. The biological activities of triterpene acetate and cinnamate esters, together with the exceptionally high levels of these triterpenes in shea fat, indicate that shea nuts and shea fat (shea butter) constitute a significant source of anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor promoting compounds.