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Health News of Monday, 4 January 2010

Source: Teacher Baffour

The Health Benefits of Shea Butter

We all know of Shea butter as children growing up throughout Ghana, what I think is that most of us hasn’t yet realise, is the importance of Shea Butter is to the World Market and their economy today.

Ghanaians women spends comparable amount of monies as other societies does on Cosmetic Products that only contains about 5% of Shea Butter with the other 95% made up of synthetic compounds to give a desired texture and scent.

Compare the price of a Kilo of Shea Butter in Accra against the price of an imported jar of cosmetic containing 5% or less of Shea Butter. Would it not be prudent to take that kilo of Shea butter and add your own preferred infused scent?

Why not design your own skin cream! Collect a variety of wild flower petals; select the scent of each one that you like. You can even go as far as blending different scents together until you get the right one.

Finally, get a piece of light, white cotton material and make a small medicine to hold your petal mix.

Put the required amount of Shea Butter and medicine bag of petals into a large clear glass jar with a lid, leave it in direct sunlight for a 2x week plus.

Every evening open the jar to test the strength of the scent. If needed be, add some more petals.

From this humble beginnings you can possibly go on to achieve a cottage industry with a Product designed on the uniqueness out of the garden of Ghana. (Contact me with your failures & success)

Shea butter has been known to work well against stretch marks. It also benefits those suffering dry skin, dermatitis and sunburn, quick skin healing and cinnamic acid, which protects the skin against the harmful UV rays of the sun. Since Shea butter is well tolerated by the skin, it usually does not trigger off any allergic reactions. This makes it ideal for use by persons with sensitive skin.

Medicinal

Shea butter is used as a base for medicinal ointments and has been claimed to have anti-inflammatory properties.

It has been claimed internationally to be an effective treatment for the following conditions:

1. Fading scars, eczema, burns, rashes, acne, severely dry skin, blemishes, dark spots, skin discolorations, chapped lips, stretch marks, wrinkles, and in lessening the irritation of psoriasis.

It is also being used as a sun blocking lotion; although the level of protection against the sun's ultraviolet radiation is extremely variable, ranging from nothing to approximately SPF 6.

In Nigeria, Shea butter is used for the management of sinusitis and relief of nasal congestion.

This is due to its hydrating properties which help in relaxing the tension in the face skin thus easing respiration.

The anti-aging benefits of Shea butter have been recognized internationally and there is a mind-boggling range of Shea butter products available these days. Industrial The main industrial use of Shea butter outside Africa is in cosmetics, such as moisturizer creams and emulsion and hair conditioners for dry and brittle hair. It is also used by soap makers, typically in small amounts (5-7% of the oils in the recipe), because of its property of leaving a small amount of oil in the soap.

The Vitamins A and E found in Shea butter help in keeping the skin supple and healthy. It also prevents premature wrinkles and facial lines. Vitamin F works as a rejuvenator. (Vitamin F from our local Food) Rough and chapped skin is soothed and healed. Shea butter penetrates the skin easily and does not clog the pores. Dry skin and dry scalp relief

• Heals blemishes and keeps wrinkles at bay

• Excellent skin moisturizer

• Reduces itchiness caused due to excessive dryness of the skin

• Cures minor burns and tough skin on feet

• Evens out skin tone

• Offers sun and wind protection

• Restores elasticity to the skin

• Restores lost hair lustre

• Eliminates scalp irritation caused due to chemical processing

BIO-ACTIVE GRADES of SHEA BUTTER (From the American Institute of Shea Butter) Shea Butter comes in different grades: Grade A; Grade B; Grade C; Grade D; or Grade F. When laboratory analysis is done, grade is determined by the presence or absence of various nutrients.

Grade A is the highest and best quality for cosmetics and personal industry.

Grade D is the lowest grade missing most of the valuable nutrients.

The highest grades are awarded to those butters with the largest Bio-active fraction (5% and above), a good safety screen, and rancidity value below 10. To that end, only the best preparation of unrefined Shea butter can earn the Grade A status.

Because of the limited amount of the Bio-active fraction preserved during the refining process, refined Shea Butter scores are typically grade C, sometimes Grade D, but never Grade A. and rarely Grade B. Grade F is reserved for Shea Butter not fit for human use. Grade F Shea is contaminated by micro organisms (such as mould, yeast or coli form bacteria) or contaminated with heavy metals (such as lead or mercury).

Hidden Dangers in Cosmetics (from Continuum Magazine) Have you ever wondered what goes into bubble bath? One day, whilst lying in the bath with nothing in particular to do I started pondering over what bubble bath is. I decided to read the label. The label described the bubble bath as "Bath will gently cleanse your skin, helping to leave it feeling soft and smooth." Sounds good! I went on to read the ingredients; Aqua, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Cocamide DEA, Sodium Chloride, Parfum, Glycol Stearate, Tetrasodium EDTA, Citric Acid, Formaldehyde, Polyquaternium-7, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Sodium Hydroxide. Quite a cocktail of chemicals. And then my warning sensors clicked on, below the ingredients was a boldly printed warning advising to" Avoid getting into eyes." If this substance is so great for the skin, why should it be so harmful to the eyes? I thought I'd investigate.

Apart from Aqua, (by which they mean water) the next most prolific ingredient is sodium laureth sulphate, although the manufacturer of this particular brand insists on using the American spelling.

Sodium laureth sulphate is a surfactant. That is a substance that can reduce the surface tension of a liquid and thus allow it to foam or penetrate solids. It is also an industrial grade detergent, or degreaser. Like all detergents sodium laureth sulphate attacks grease, thereby helping to clean the skin.

However, the human skin is a complex organ and contains glands which deliberately secrete grease or oil onto the skin to help keep it waterproof, supple and, to quote, "soft and smooth." Sodium laureth sulphate strips the natural oil from the skin leaving it rough and dry.

That's not all sodium laureth sulphate does. Sodium laureth sulphate is a powerful detergent, garages use it to clean engine oil from their floors, it is also very corrosive. Perhaps that is why my bubble bath advises me to "avoid getting into eyes," well maybe.

Or perhaps it's because sodium laureth sulphate attacks the formation of essential proteins in the the eyes leading to cataracts in adults and preventing children's eyes from forming properly. Further investigation reveals that sodium laureth sulphate is so harmful to the skin that it is used in medical laboratories to damage the skin before healing agents can be tested!

Having decided in future to stick to bath salts, I read the ingredients on my bath salts. No sodium laureth sulphate, but instead they contained something called sodium lauryl sulphate. Sodium lauryl sulphate is sodium laureth sulphate chemically combined with ethylene oxide to form larger molecules.

Why on earth should anyone be concerned about the size of the molecules? Well, one reason is because small molecules, such as those of sodium laureth sulphate can pass through skin into the body where they enter the blood stream and build up in the internal organs - especially the brain and kidneys. Bearing in mind what sodium laureth sulphate does to the comparatively tough skin, I hate to think what it can do to the gentle internal organs. Research in America at the Georgia University medical centre indicates that sodium laureth sulphate and sodium lauryl sulphate can both react with other chemicals found in cosmetics to form nitrosamines and 1,4 dioxine, which are both known carcinogens. For this reason the American Food and Drug Agency classifies both sodium laureth sulphate and sodium lauryl sulphate as drugs when used in cosmetics.

But it is not just in bubble bath that one finds chemicals harmful to the skin. They are also in toothpaste, shampoo, shaving crème and cleansers. In trying to find products that do not contain these harmful chemicals I visited supermarkets, chemists and health food shops.

Surprisingly almost all cleansers include either sodium laureth sulphate or sodium lauryl sulphate, including the own brands of a well known health food shop and a certain wannabe ecologically friendly high street store. However, it is possible to find alternatives; you just need to check the ingredients label carefully. It is worth trying an alternative if you suffer from eczema, as I do, rather than simply washing in something which strips the skin and then using vegetable oil in the form of glycerine to moisturise it, or thinking that it is caused by some other pathological disorder.

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Compiler’s note: I feel that people should know what kind of chemicals they are putting on or into their bodies.

The truth is we don't really know what this stuff does to us on a long-term basis. If someone is having skin problems they might want to avoid extra ingredients like fragrance or detergents. If I have helped only one person it's worth it, even if I received an unpleasant email.

Compilation by Teacher Baffour

Email: teacherbaffour@teacher.com

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