Herbs & Plants

Shea Butter (Butyrospermum parkii)

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Botanical Name :Butyrospermum parkii
Family: Sapotaceae
Genus: Butyrospermum
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Ericales
Species: B. parkii
Syn. B. paradoxa ,Vitellaria paradoxa
Common Names  : Shea Butter , Vitellaria,Karité,shea tree, vitellaria

:Indigenous  to Africa, occurring in Mali, Cameroon, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Togo, Nigeria, Senegal, Sudan, Burkina Faso and Uganda.


The tree is perennial and starts bearing the first fruits when it is 10–15 years old; full bearing is attained when the tree is about 20–30 years. It produces nuts for up to 200 years after reaching maturity.

The fruits resemble large plums and take 4–6 months to ripen. Average yield is 15–20 kilograms of fresh fruit per tree, with optimum yields up to 45 kg. Each kilogram of fruit gives approximately 400 grams of dry seeds.

Botanical Details:Trees or shrubs , usually producing latex. Leaves spirally arranged or alternate and distichous, rarely ± opposite, sometimes crowded at apex of branchlets ; stipules early deciduous or absent; leaf blade papery or leathery, margin entire. Flowers bisexual or unisexual , usually in sessile axillary clusters , rarely solitary; cluster pedunculate or in raceme-like inflorescence, bracteolate . Calyx a single whorl of usually 4–6 sepals, or 2 whorls each with 2–4 sepals. Corolla lobes as many to 2 X as many as sepals, usually entire, rarely with 2 lacerate or lobular appendages . Stamens inserted at corolla base or at throat of corolla tube , as many as and opposite corolla lobes to many and in 2 or 3 whorls; staminodes when present alternate with stamens, scaly to petal-like. Ovary superior, 4- or 5-locular, placentation axillary; ovules 1 per locule, anatropous . Style 1, often apically lobed . Fruit a berry or drupe, 1- to many-seeded. Seed coat brown (pale yellow in Pouteria annamensis), hard, shiny, rich in tannin; endosperm usually oily; seed scar lateral and linear to oblong or basal and round.

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The shea fruit consists of a thin, tart, nutritious pulp that surrounds a relatively large, oil-rich seed from which is extracted shea butter.

Constituents: vitamins a, e, and f, fatty acids: oleic- 60.5% palmitic- 5.0% linoleic- 7.9% stearic- 45.24%
Edible Uses:
The Shea tree is an African traditional food plant. It has been claimed that that the tree has potential to improve nutrition, boost food supply in the ” annual hungry season”,[1] foster rural development and support sustainable landcare.

Medicinal Uses:
Common Uses: Abrasions/Cuts * Aches & Pains * Eczema * Facial and Skin care * Hair Care/Shampoo * Insect Bites/Rashes * Natural Skin Care-Oils & Herbs *
Properties: Anti-inflammatory* Emollient* Skin tonic* Vulnerary*
Parts Used: Nut oil.

Shea butter is becoming more popular here in the West as we discover its marvelous uses in skin care. Shea is rich in vitamins, minerals and fatty acids that rejuvenate and hydrate skin and hair. Use shea butter alone or in homemade skin preparations to treat damaged skin, help heal wounds, or just pamper yourself with a whole body treatment.

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Pure shea butter has a soft, pliable texture, is naturally cream colored and has a pleasant nutty scent. Bleached and refined shea butter does not retain its medicinal properties, so be sure to obtain it from a reputable vender that specializes in natural products. (Like Mountain Rose;)

Shea Butter is naturally rich in Vitamins A, E, and F, as well as a number of other vitamins and minerals. Vitamins A and E help to soothe, hydrate, and balance the skin. They also provide skin collagen which assists with wrinkles and other signs of ageing. Vitamin F contains essential fatty acids, and helps protect and revitalize damaged skin and hair. Shea Butter is an intense moisturizer for dry skin, and is a wonderful product for revitalizing dull or dry skin on the body or scalp. It promotes skin renewal, increases the circulation, and accelerates wound healing.

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Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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Use Chemical Peels to Get Rid off Wrinkles, Blemishes

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Forget about the various creams available in the market that promise blemish-free and fair skin. If you really want soft, smooth and  flawless skin, chemical peels are the safest bet, say experts.

“A chemical peel is a treatment technique used to improve and smoothen the texture of facial skin using a chemical solution that causes the skin to blister and eventually peel off. The regenerated skin is usually smoother and less wrinkled than the old skin,” Anup Dhir, senior cosmetic surgeon at New Delhi‘s Apollo Hospital said.

Chemical peels stimulate the production of new cells, tighten and tone the skin, and decrease the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. They also help in lightening acne scars.

“Peels treat wrinkled, blemished, unevenly pigmented or sun-damaged facial skin. Application of a chemical solution to improve the skin’s appearance leads to a controlled shedding of several layers of cells. This stimulus tightens the tissue collagen and brings about a fresh and vibrant appearance,” explains Mumbai-based cosmetic surgeon Meenakshi Agarwal.

Different types of chemical peels that one can opt for are alpha hydroxy acid peels (AHAs), beta hydroxy acid peels, retinoic acid peels, trichloroacetic acid peels and phenol peels that cater to regular maintenance of skin, acne and acne blemishes, anti aging, skin lightening, anti pigmentation and deep pigmentation among other problems.

“The choice of the most suitable chemical peel for an individual is determined by the patient’s skin texture, type, problems and many other similar aspects,” Dhir explained.

Kaya Skin Clinic’s medical head Snehal Sriram says chemical peels can also reduce or eliminate fine lines under the eyes and around the mouth.

“The procedure can treat wrinkles caused by sun damage and scarring as well as skin blemishes common with age and heredity. These peels can be performed on the face and neck, as well as body parts like chest, hands, arms, legs, underarms and back,” Sriram maintained.

The peels are also known as “lunch time procedures” since they only take between 20 to 40 minutes.

“The number of sittings required by an individual depends on the severity of the problems being addressed. Usually six to eight such peels are required at weekly or fortnightly intervals to get desired results,” said Dhir.

One important precaution after undergoing treatment is protection from exposure to sun.

“Ensure that you apply sunscreen in the right way, 15 minutes before going out in the sun and reapply after every three hours because after the peel you get a new, smooth skin that is sensitive to direct sunlight,” Agarwal explained.

These peels cost anywhere between Rs.1,000 and Rs.3,000($20 & $60) but one should consult a dermatologist before going for them.

The Times Of India

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Synthetic Skin is as Good as Real

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 A synthetic skin as good as the natural one is likely to be mass produced, thanks to a new technique pioneered by German scientists. The good news is that it will be a boon for burn victims, who require extensive skin grafting to cover damaged parts — a very painful process. The availability of this “artificial skin” opens up almost unlimited new possibilities for medical scientists. One of their upcoming projects is to produce intestinal tissue for resorption tests.

Tissue engineering has been at the focus of research for many years, and tissues such as cartilage or skin are already being cultured in numerous biotechnology labs.

But researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB in Stuttgart plan to go a step further. They are aiming to enable fully automated tissue production.

First of all, a biopsy is checked for sterility. A gripper arm then transports the biopsy into the automated device where the individual steps are performed, said an IGB release. The machine cuts the biopsy into small pieces, isolates the different cell types, stimulates their growth, and mixes the skin cells with collagen.

A 3-D reconstruction of different skin layers is produced with the aid of a special gel matrix – and the skin is ready. In the final step, the machine packages the cells for shipment. Alternatively, the tissue can be deep-frozen and stored for later use.

Sources:The Times Of India

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Ailmemts & Remedies


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Alternative Names : Chloasma; Mask of pregnancy; Pregnancy mask

Melasma is a dark skin discoloration found on sun-exposed areas of the face.
Melasma (also known as chloasma or the mask of pregnancy when present in pregnant women) is a tan or dark facial skin discoloration. Although it can affect anyone, melasma is particularly common in women, especially pregnant women and those who are taking oral or patch contraceptives or hormone replacement therapy (HRT) medications. It is also prevalent in men and women of Native American descent (on the forearms) and in men and women of German/Russian Jewish descent (on the face).

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Melasma doesn’t cause any other symptoms besides skin discoloration but may be of great cosmetic concern.A uniform brown color is usually seen over the cheeks, forehead, nose, or upper lip. It is most often symmetrical (matching on both sides of the face).
The symptoms of melasma are dark, irregular patches commonly found on the upper cheek, nose, lips, upper lip, and forehead. These patches often develop gradually over time. Melasma does not cause any other symptoms beyond the cosmetic discoloration.


Melasma is a very common skin disorder. Though it can affect anyone, young women with brownish skin tones are at greatest risk.

Melasma is often associated with the female hormones estrogen and progesterone. It is especially common in pregnant women, women who are taking oral contraceptives (“the pill”), and women taking hormone replacement therapy during menopause.

Sun exposure is also a strong risk factor for melasma. It is particularly common in tropical climates.
Melasma is thought to be the stimulation of melanocytes or pigment-producing cells by the female sex hormones estrogen and progesterone to produce more melanin pigments when the skin is exposed to sun. Women with a light brown skin type who are living in regions with intense sun exposure are particularly susceptible to developing this condition.

Genetic predisposition is also a major factor in determining whether someone will develop melasma.

The incidence of melasma also increases in patients with thyroid disease. It is thought that the overproduction of melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH) brought on by stress can cause outbreaks of this condition. Other rare causes of melasma include allergic reaction to medications and cosmetics.

Melasma Suprarenale (Latin – of the adrenals) is a symptom of Addison’s disease, particularly when caused by pressure or minor injury to the skin, as discovered by Dr. FJJ Schmidt of Rotterdam in 1859.

Your health care provider can usually diagnose melasma based upon the appearance of your skin. A closer examination using a Wood’s lamp may help guide your treatment.Melasma is usually diagnosed visually or with assistance of a Wood’s lamp (340 – 400 nm wavelength). Under Wood’s lamp, excess melanin in the epidermis can be distinguished from that of the dermis.

The discoloration usually disappears spontaneously over a period of several months after giving birth or stopping the oral contraceptives or hormone replacement therapy.

Treatments to hasten the fading of the discolored patches include:

*Topical depigmenting agents, such as hydroquinone (HQ) either in over-the-counter (2%) or prescription (4%) strength. HQ is a chemical that inhibits tyrosinase, an enzyme involved in the production of melanin.

*Tretinoin, an acid that increases skin cell (keratinocyte) turnover. This treatment cannot be used during pregnancy.
Azelaic acid (20%), thought to decrease the activity of melanocytes.

*Facial peel with alpha hydroxyacids or chemical peels with glycolic acid.

*Laser treatment. A Wood’s lamp test should be used to determine whether the melasma is epidermal or dermal. If the melasma is dermal, laser (or “IPL”) will acually DARKEN and worsen the appearance of the spots. Dermal melasma is generally unresponsive to most treaments, and has only been found to lighten with products containing mandelic acid.

In all of these treatments the effects are gradual and a strict avoidance of sunlight is required. The use of broad-spectrum sunscreens with physical blockers, such as titanium dioxide and zinc dioxide is preferred over that with only chemical blockers. This is because UV-A, UV-B and visible lights are all capable of stimulating pigment production.

Cosmetic cover-ups can also be used to reduce the appearance of melasma.

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Melasma often fades over several months after stopping oral contraceptives or hormone replacement therapy or after delivering a child. It may return with additional pregnancies or use of these medications.

Prevention :
Daily sunscreen use not only helps prevent melasma but is crucial in the prevention of skin cancer and wrinkles.

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.


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Creams Can Make Skin Drier

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A new research has confirmed for the first time that normal skin can become drier from creams.
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The findings are based on Izabela Buraczewska’s study, in which she looked at what happens to the skin at the molecular level and also what positive and negative effects creams have on the skin. Her research has revealed that differences in the pH of creams do not seem to play any role.

She also studied different oils in a seven-week treatment period, but no difference was established between mineral oil and a vegetable oil. Both oils resulted in the skin being less able to cope with external stresses. Buraczewska and her team concluded that the contents of creams impact the effects on the skin. Buraczewska presented these findings in the dissertation she is publicly defending at Uppsala University in Sweden this month.

Sources: The Times Of India

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