Called “butter pear” by some, Avocado oil is also known as “vegetable butter”. Avocado oil is incredibly nourishing and possesses powerful cleansing properties as well. It is widely used in cosmetic and medicinal formulations. Did you know that the French government recognizes Avocado Oil as a prescription drug? Read on to know more!
In A Nutshell
Avocado has been used in herbal formulations for a long time now. The Aztecs are said to have called it “butter pear” and “vegetable butter” considering the high oil content of Avocado.
The carrier oil is perfect for use in soap-making owing to its tendency to form lather and because of its excellent cleansing action.
Avocado oil finds its use in the cosmetic industry as it penetrates and is absorbed easily into the skin. It possesses a large amount of vitamins, has a light aroma that does not interfere with the fragrance of the blend. It also has preservation qualities.
It is also widely used in the manufacture of moisturizers as it is less greasy in comparison to other oils. Thanks to its emulsifying properties, it can produce very fine blends.
Historical Perspective of Avocado Oil
Its botanical name is Persea americana and it was once known as Persea gratissima. It is commonly known as Avocado tree. It is said that it was cultivated in South America, Mexico, and Central America nearly 7000 years ago. In the Mexico region where the Aztec culture flourished, the Aztec people called Avocados “ahuacatl,” which means “testicle.”
The name was given because of the phallic shape of the avocado. It was also believed that the shape of the avocado was a symbol of its properties as well as its benefits for the reproductive system. It was also considered as a “fertility fruit” and was believed to act in the manner of a sexual stimulant.
Ancient civilizations such as Mayans, Aztecs, and Incas applied the fruit pulp on to the skin as a face mask and it was a part of many cosmetic formulations. Guatemala’s Mayans utilized Avocados to treat diarrhea and also to fight intestinal worms and other parasites. It was also used to make the hair healthy and strong.
Owing to its numerous benefits, Avocados were also treated as precious fruits. Mexican iconography in some places shows the fruit in a manner that resonates with the Mexican mythological narratives. In these, the fruit is shown to increase vigor. In some other parts of Mexico, parts of the fruit were used to make artifacts that are nearly 12 millennia old.
It is clear that the Pre-Hispanic cultures afforded great importance to the Avocado. Later, it is believed that European invaders brought the fruit to other parts of the world where it was greatly valued owing to its numerous health benefits. The trees in the period between 1830 and 1880 were also brought to Florida, Hawaii, and California.
The US, in the 20th century, started producing different varieties of Avocados which were also viable for commercial farming. It was at this very time that California emerged as the major fruit supplier. Interestingly enough, Avocado Oil in France is recognized as a prescription drug considering that it can help reduce the impact of arthritis.
Owing to its large oil content, avocado is also called “vegetable butter” and at some places, “butter pear” ever since the ancient times. The modern name “Avocado”, as we know it today, was given by the American Pomological Society and the Agricultural Department of the US. They thought that this name was more commercially suited over the name “Alligator Pear”.
The avocados that are cultivated in California are called ‘Calavo’ to distinguish them from the others, as decided by the California Avocado Association. The growers in the US found a way to extract oil from the avocados as they got damaged due to scars and blemishes.
Health Advantages of Avocado Carrier Oil: Composition
We will now examine the chemical composition of Avocado Carrier Oil which contains numerous good acids. Let’s see them one by one.
Gadoleic Acid (Eicosenoic Acid):
- Maintains the balance of oil in the skin
- Powerful emollient
- Easily absorbed into the skin
- Does not clog the pores of the skin
- Makes the hair soft without leaving a sticky residue
- Powerful emollient
- Common saturated fatty acid
- Has cleansing properties removing sweat, dirt, and excessive sebum from hair
- Binds water and oil being a great emulsifier
- Extends shelf life of products as it has preservative properties
- Conditions hair and protects them without removing luster
Oleic Acids (Omega 9):
- Makes the hair and skin soft, supple, and radiant
- Reduces inflammation, pain, and stiffness in the joints
- Makes hair long, thick, and strong
- Prevents the appearance of fine lines and premature wrinkles
- Increases immunity
- Removes dandruff and promotes hair growth
- Possesses antioxidant properties
- Tightens and moisturizes the skin
- Increases hair growth while also making the hair shiny
- Delays premature aging
- Makes the nails healthier
- Improves complexion
- Increases the elasticity of the skin which helps in the prevention of wrinkles
Linoleic Acids (Omega 6):
- Retains moisture in the hair and the skin
- Promotes the growth of hair and moisturizes them
- Powerful emulsifier used in making quick-drying oils and soaps
- Helps wounds heal faster
- Possesses anti-inflammatory properties
- Thins the consistency of oils when used in a blend
- Helps prevent acne and their future outbreaks
- Helps reduce the pain that is related to arthritis
- Increases muscle mass by increasing the inflammatory responses in the body
- Improves immunity
- Helps cut down weight
- Relieves the symptoms of depression
Alpha-Linolenic Acid (Omega-3):
- Reduces pain in the joints and stiffness
- Helps keep blood clotting under check
- Reduces inflammation
Avocado Carrier Oil, being rich in vitamins works as a powerful treatment that regenerates and rehydrates the skin. It will also make the skin smooth and improve its texture. Avocado oil will also reduce the appearance of wrinkles while tightening the skin and reducing age spots, scars, and blemishes.
Avocado oil can also be used on sensitive, dry, irritated, and rough skin or the skin that is affected by psoriasis. It can be used as a massage oil where it is effective in treating inflammation and insomnia. It will also help to reduce stiffness in the muscles, relieve joint pain and tension, and also increase blood circulation for great health.
When Avocado Carrier Oil is used on hair, it helps in nourishing them and will soften, strengthen, and straighten the strands. It will also hydrate the hair and increase blood circulation in the scalp which will help to increase hair growth and reduce the loss of hair. Avocado Carrier Oil also provides respite from environmental damage and clogging of the hair follicles.
It is used in medicinal formulations as it has anti-bacterial properties. The oil balances metabolism in the body and will cure inflammation that is related to arthritis. It has great healing properties that can help rid the skin of rashes, dryness, eczema, and aging signs. It helps to maintain the elasticity of the skin as it has moisturizing properties. The oil has a lot of Vitamin E that will cut down the impact of dangerous UV radiation from the sun and the subsequent damage it could cause.
In the Ayurvedic system of medicine, the fruit is used to treat bad cholesterol, alopecia, provide relief from constipation, increase libido, maintain healthy levels of insulin, and promote stamina and strength. It is also used in the treatment of joint pain, toning the skin, insomnia, and to remove the damages inflicted by free radicals. To date, Avocado Oil is used to heal the hair and skin and promote overall health.
Let us now summarize the therapeutic properties of this oil.
Cosmetic: Antioxidant, Anti-Aging, Emollient, Regenerative, Detoxifying, Astringent.
Medicinal: Analgesic, Anti-Inflammatory, Anti-Arthritic, Diuretic, Detoxifying, Astringent, Carminative, Regenerative, Laxative, Anti-parasitic.
How is Avocado Oil Cultivated and Harvested?
Avocado trees grow best in areas that have temperate and subtropical climates and with no frost. This means that the tree can be grown across all subtropical countries around the world. The tree suffers great damage at the hands of high winds as the winds decrease the humidity and have an impact on flower pollination due to dehydration.
Even little frost can be dangerous to the plant and can cause early dropping of the fruit. There are some varieties of avocado that can stand cold temperatures dropping below zero and only witness little damage to their leaves. The best-suited soil for its growth is porous and aerated. It needs loose soils with proper ventilation and hydration while also maintaining a sufficient supply of water and oxygen to the roots for the proper growth.
The yield is also affected if the water is saline or water is not available in adequate quantities. The soils need to be well-drained and there should be no water-logging.
Some of the variants of the tree are biennial. This means that they produce fruit every second year. A year with a lot of yield will be followed by another one which will have little yields. This is because of certain environmental factors one of which is cold temperatures.
The flowering phases also differ among the varieties of the trees. These factors lead to the production of “cukes”. These are actually avocados with no seeds. Since they are so small, they are often considered useless and discarded.
Avocado trees undergo self-pollination but it reduces self-pollination since the stamens and pistils develop during different phases. This is termed dichogamous flowering. On a single tree, the flowers will either be all males or all females and there will be complete synchronism.
Propagation of Avocado
Propagation of Avocado trees takes place via seedling plants that are nurtured in a nursery for a period of six months and after that, they are transferred to the growing area.
The trees that are grown from seedlings take as long as 10 years to produce fruit. Therefore, the premium quality of avocados is usually grown by the grafting method in which grafting is performed on the seedlings’ rootstocks. These are grown from the seeds or can also be grown from layering.
The plants that are propagated through grafting yield the best quantity and quality of fruit. Propagation in avocados can also be done via seeds. The plants that propagate via seeds take about 4 to 6 years to produce fruit. However, seed propagation is generally not used as the quality of the fruit is not similar to that of the parent.
After growing on the trees, the fruits require about 10 months to mature and this is when the size and the oil inside increase. The fruits do not ripen even post reaching maturity on the trees. They will ripen only when they fall onto the ground or are harvested.
If the fruits are not harvested, they can stay on the tree for as long as 1.5 years after they flower and this continues even when the fruits of the next year start to develop. The color and firmness of avocado are based upon its ripeness. In a ripe avocado, the mesocarp or the flesh is soft and in other varieties, the skin transforms itself from a green color to a deep purplish-black color.
Those fruits that are mature when harvested will yield the most oil content that is needed during processing. Those fruits that have fallen from the trees due to weather conditions, will have lower oil content.
The soft avocado fruit tissues will simplify the extraction of oil. The oil is released from the parenchyma cells and is stored as droplets in the flesh of the fruit. To promote ripening, avocados are kept in rooms that have controlled temperatures and are treated with Ethylene which is a plant hormone that helps in coordinating the process of ripening.
In order to make certain that the best quality avocado oil is obtained, the fruit chosen should never be overripe. It is also important to ensure that the greying of the flesh or rotting is kept at a minimum.
Those fruits that show post-harvest disorders are not utilized in making the oil. The ripe and mature avocados that are harvested in the season early produce nearly 75% of the oil that is contained in the flesh of the fruit. The fruits there were harvested in the season later will produce nearly 90% of the oil present in the fruit’s flesh. The skin and the seed of avocados produce little quantity of the oil that is about 7%.
The harvesting is accomplished through hydraulic ladders or cherry pickers. It can also be done with picking poles that will help reach the fruits but while also ensuring they are not dropped.
Most avocado varieties should be removed from the stem with the stem button or the small stem with which it is attached to the tree left intact. If this stem is removed, the chances of rotting increase.
The fruits that are picked should be free from damage and should never be dropped or torn. This is because any damage can lead to puncturing or bruising the skin which can lead to infection.
The fruits are collected in bags and will then be transferred into large bins. These bins are placed on trailers which makes the transportation to the facility easier. The fruits should be protected from sunlight and placed in the shade so as to prevent heating. The fruits may also be treated with a fungicide to check fungal infections.
Once the fruits reach the production facility, they are transferred to a hydro cooler. In this process, water cools the fruits so as to remove any heat retained in them. The fruits are cleaned by rotating brushes and are inspected manually or a mechanical device is employed. This is done to ensure that they are clean and free from insect bites or marks caused by wind, rodents, hail, and mishandling along with bacteria, viruses, or fungi.
The Process of Extraction of Avocado Carrier Oil
Avocado Carrier Oil is obtained usually from the flesh of the fruit. Once the fruits are cleaned using water, which removes all residual impurities, the fruits are transported to the destoning machine. This will remove the seeds and get rid of most of the skin.
Once this is complete, the flesh is dried to remove moisture present in the fruit. The flesh is then pulverized to make a paste. The next phase involves malaxation, which is the process where the paste is gradually stirred at a slow pace for an hour in a warm tank at a controlled temperature of about 50°C. The malaxation process accumulates the oil droplets to yield larger drops.
As far as Avocado Oil is concerned, this range of temperatures employed during extraction will not affect the quality of the oil and is used in cold-pressing as well. Further, in a decanting centrifuge that rotates at a high speed, the oil and water are separated.
The skin, flesh, and seeds that remain in the centrifuge are utilized as animal feed or in conditioning the soil. It is also used as mulch for avocado orchards. For further processing for cosmetic formulations, the crude oil is deodorized and bleached during refining. The oil thus obtained has no odor and is yellow-colored.
Extra virgin cold-pressed oil is unrefined and therefore contains a fatty aroma and like the flesh, the oil is usually greenish, yellowish, or brownish as it contains chlorophyll present in the skin and other layers.
The oil will have green pigmentation if any skin is left intact during the malaxation phase. The chlorophyll present in the oil can cause photo-oxidation in the oil so it is imperative to store the oil in shade away from sunlight.
Solvent Extraction Method
In this method, the flesh of the fruit is first dried in the air. It is then pressed and mixed with organic solvents like hexane which are added to the pulp to yield the oil. The oil thus produced is brown in color. The further refinement process will include deacidification, which will remove free fatty acids, bleaching, that will eliminate chlorophylls, carotenoids, and pheophytins, and finally deodorization, which will get rid of the aroma.
How to Use Avocado Oil At Home For Good Health
There are numerous uses of avocado oil that range from cosmetic to medicinal. It is an essential component of bath oils, massage oils, lotions, gels, creams, shampoos, soaps, serums, conditioners, and cleansers.
Avocado oil possesses deep moisturizing properties and is used to treat cracked skin, especially on the cuticles and the heels. Just applying some drops to the areas will soothe the skin and make it supple.
Avocado Oil For Eye Makeup Removal
If you wish to remove makeup using avocado carrier oil, just pour a few drops of the oil on a cotton ball and wipe gently across the eyelids. This will help to remove mascara, eyeliner, and eyeshadow from the eyes.
The leftover oil on the area will also help in reducing the formation of fine lines around the eyes. Avocado oil helps in providing relief to rough and dry skin and soothes redness. It will also promote the regeneration of cells and increase the production of collagen. This will further reduce the signs of aging and the appearance of wrinkles.
Using Avocado Oil For Good Skin Health
To provide relief from skin diseases like psoriasis, eczema, or damage caused by the sun, add about 20 ml of avocado carrier oil to 4 drops of Frankincense essential oil. Now, introduce about 2 drops of rose oil and further add 2 drops of Neroli Essential Oil. Mix well and apply to the affected region.
You can also create a powerful face mask that will condition the skin with avocado oil. For this, mash a ripe avocado fruit and blend it well with 1 teaspoon of avocado carrier oil. Apply to the face and the neck in a thick layer and leave for 10 minutes. Remove this mask by dipping a towel in warm water and using it to wipe off the oil.
If the mask remains, use a natural toner to which one drop of avocado oil is added and splash the face gently.
Avocado Oil for Hair Health
Avocado Oil increases hair growth and provides relief from dandruff and this will remove itching and dryness. You can boost circulation in the scalp which will open the hair follicles and prevent the falling of hair. Take a small amount of the oil and massage well into the scalp.
You can also create a hair treatment mask by mixing one avocado fruit with one banana and making a smooth paste with no lumps. Add one tablespoon each of avocado oil, honey, and coconut oil. Mix well and apply the mixture to the scalp and hair and allow it to remain for about 20 minutes. Finally, rinse the hair with warm water.
Massage With Avocado Oil
A massage with avocado oil will provide relief from muscular discomfort and help to boost blood circulation. If you are experiencing pain or muscle/joint stiffness, blend about 60 ml of avocado oil with half the dose of soybean oil. Mix well and massage on the affected area.
To rejuvenate and relax, prepare a blend that contains 120 ml of Avocado Oil to which 5 drops of Spearmint Essential Oil and the same quantity of Ginger Essential Oil added. Apply to the affected area for a warm massage.
Medicinal Uses of Avocado Oil
To provide relief from insect bites, blisters, rashes, and wounds, apply a few drops of avocado oil directly on the affected area of the skin. The oil can also boost libido when used before bedtime and it will also relieve insomnia.
To prepare a back rub massage blend which is ideal before a refreshing cool bath, add 60 ml of Avocado Oil to about 10 drops of Evening Primrose Carrier Oil and also blend this with 10 drops of Jojoba Oil. This oil blend can now be used for a relaxing massage (twice in 7 days).
If you have been experiencing inflammation and swelling due to arthritis, you can use Avocado Oil to soothe the muscles and boost the functioning of the immune system.
The Variants of Avocado Oil
Avocado Carrier Oil (Refined and Cosmetic Grade)
Botanical: Persea gratissima
Extra Virgin Avocado Carrier Oil
Botanical: Persea gratissima
Contraindications of Carrier Oil
Avocado essential oil should not be ingested as it is only for external use. Keep the oil away from the reach of children to prevent accidental ingestion.
A patch test should be done before using the oil to rule out any adverse reactions. Wait for 48 hours and then continue if no allergic reaction takes place.
People who are allergic to avocados or to latex will likely be allergic to avocado carrier oil as well and should abstain from using it. Severe side effects may include abdominal pain, vomiting, and hives.
If you experience any allergic reaction, discontinue use of the oil immediately and consult your pharmacist or doctor.
Those who use blood thinners in order to slow down blood clotting might experience adverse interactions with drugs. They should only use the oil with the permission of their doctor. Pregnant and lactating women should also consult their doctor before using the oil.