Sometimes plants make for the best medicine. Sweet almond oil or Prunus amygdalus dulcui, which is derived from the almond tree, Prunus dulcis, has been around for years, but few know about the substance and its true properties. Let’s dive in and see if we can separate the fact from the fiction.
Differences Between Sweet Almond Oil And Bitter Almond Oil
A number of people probably can’t tell the difference between these two almond oils. Before using any of these two, it makes an important start for everyone to know more about their disparities.
To begin with, almonds (prunus amygdalus) give us both sweet and bitter almond oils, but they came from different trees. The sweet almond tree, which gives out sweet almond oil. On the other hand, bitter almond tree produces a different kind of almond and oil.
When it comes to their oils, the types and its uses are entirely different. The sweet almond oil belongs to the fixed oil group, a type used as a carrier or base oil like the olive oil or coconut oil. Meanwhile, the bitter almond oil falls to essential oils group, generally used for aromatherapy and formulating scents.
Digging deeper into their qualities, the sweet almond oil is a medium-light oil perfect for facial and skin care. It contains different fatty acids such as olein, oleic acid and linoleic acid. Due to its rich protein, vitamin and mineral content, many consider it as one of the most versatile oils.
Bitter almond oil does not carry the same skin care benefit, nor it can be used as an emollient. Also, bitter almond oil does not provide aromatherapy benefits unlike other essential oils. The use of bitter almond oil only revolves around making use of its attractive scent or flavor.
Known Uses Of Sweet Almond Oil
If you’re a fan of cosmetics, you might already have a pretty good grasp on what almond oil is most commonly used form. You’ll find sweet almond oil like this in many skin care and beauty products, where it performs an array of different functions.
One benefit of almond oil delivers is a range uses from skin moisturizer to body butter to facial scrub, and for good reason. It has a natural moisturizing factor that helps keep the outer layer of the face or skin healthy and lubricated. It’s also good for fixing chapped lips, dry face and moisturizing dry hair and scalp.
What it won’t do, contrary to some claims, is magically de-age your skin. Certain overenthusiastic proponents might try to sell you on the idea that sweet almond oil will “increase cell production” and “control time on your skin,” but that’s not supported by any evidence. It works well enough as just a moisturizer.
There are many brands that include sweet almond oil in their formulas, though you can also craft your own from select recipes. You can make a lotion or a soap out of sweet almond oil.
The process is actually much simpler than you might have thought: select a base oil (like sweet almond), mix with additional concentrates for improved potency, then mix in an essential oil such as castor oil or neem oil for bonus properties and fragrance.
Because of almond oil’s emollient and sclerosant properties, it can help improve complexion and skin tone. Using an application of sweet almond oil may smooth the skin and potentially even out blemishes across the body.
Because of its effects on the skin, some researchers have suggested studying the effects of almond oil post-operatively to reduce the appearance of surgical scars. Nothing has been proven yet, but there is a promising outlook in this regard.
Having eyes with dark circles? Many rave about the use of sweet almond oil to help with dark circles under the eyes and as as a carrier oil to mix with essential oils for creating your own skin care products for use on sensitive, oily, and dry skin.
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Quality Cooking Oil
Some have presented almond oil as a healthier alternative to other varieties of cooking oil such as olive oil. Whether or not the health claims are true, there is a precedent for using it in the kitchen, and some chefs swear by it.
Almond oil has a high smoke point, close to 495 F, meaning that it will work well for any high heat cooking. Sautees, stir-frys, and more will come out with a great flavor in the hands of a skilled cook.
It can also serve as a substitute in dessert recipes, as a salad dressing, and with many other recipes, if you’re particularly creative. Its mild flavor won’t overwhelm the taste of the other ingredients you’re using.
Additional Claims From Proponents
One might think that being a solid choice for cooking and moisturizing the skin would be enough. Proponents of sweet almond oil, though, have ascribed to it numerous additional health benefits for which there is little support.
This isn’t to say that they are definitely false, just that much more study will be required before anyone can say that they are true.
A Cure For Psoriasis & Eczema
Due to its fatty acid content, almond oil has anti-inflammatory and immunity boosting properties that manifest when applied topically. As a result of application, sensitive skin and affected areas experience soothing and calming effects.
It’s true that almond oil is a good moisturizer, and improving moisture for the dry skin may help alleviate some associated discomfort, but any claims that it’s a wonder cure for psoriasis and eczema require more investigation until proven to be true.
Boosting Your Memory
The claims about skin rejuvenation at least have some basis on the fact that the oil makes for a good moisturizer and can keep the skin healthier with regular use. Claims about memory improvement, though, come seemingly out of nowhere.
Apparently, soaking almonds in water and then consuming them, along with the water, is said to boost memory in some Asian cultures. That magic ability is supposedly said to translate to almond oil as well, but there’s not much in the way of fact backing this claim up.
Promoting A Healthy Heart
There was one study that showed decreased cardiovascular risk from the consumption of almonds. A follow-up study showed that almonds and almond oil had some effect on reducing LDL (bad) cholesterol in people that had high cholesterol.
The sweet almond oil contains a rich profile when it comes to fatty acid content. The omega fatty acid prevents heart and other cardiovascular diseases.
Neither almonds or almond oil, though, do anything to improve HDL levels or effect triglycerides, casting doubt on their supposed health benefit as a heart health promoter.
Furthermore, the complexity of cholesterol and how it translates to heart disease and heart attack risk is such that simply lowering one factor may not have any effect at all on certain individuals.
This one’s a maybe. There is some belief that sweet almond oil has a subtle laxative effect, but more research needs to be put in to find the rate of effectiveness. It could be that the effect is only present for certain individuals or that it only manifests in a very limited number of cases.
Cures Muscle Aches
It’s true that sweet almond oil is the massage oil of choice for many. It is also true that these massages are quite relaxing and do a great job at loosening up muscles and relieving tensions.
What might not be so true are claims that it “penetrates deep into the muscles” and provides some sort of unique regenerative properties to muscles and tissue by drawing out toxins.
If you want to get a massage or aromatherapy treatment with sweet almond oil because you care for the scent, have at it. Don’t go expecting any miraculous recovery beyond what massage will provide you, however.
Someone got the idea that skin cancer, along with cancer of the bladder, breast, mouth, spleen, and uterus could be treated with sweet almond oil. While some studies show that it might influence colonic cancer, the suggestion that it would definitely control all the others listed is farfetched.
Aromatherapy oils (like sweet almond) have long been on the list for not quite proven (fake) treatments. Perhaps in time research will emerge that will show that they do have some previously unknown efficacy, or, they might end up on the FDAs watchlist.
They say that almond oil can affect gut flora. They way that the proliferation of good bacteria will manage metabolic processes and control diabetes and obesity. They say that numerous studies on almond oil exist to support these claims.
The problem? No such studies exist, at least none that are readily available and that proponents will cite in their claims. There have been limited studies with unclear results on the effect of almond oil on glycemic index, fasting insulin and glucose, and insulin resistance, but nothing conclusive.
It could be possible, but more evidence is required before you put your trust in almond oil to help with your metabolic issues.
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Stopping Hair Loss
Some have said that almond oil can stop or even reverse hair loss by correcting hormonal imbalances, removing toxins from the skin, and correcting for deficiencies of certain minerals like zinc.
To achieve these hair care benefits of sweet almond oil, just warm the oil up, apply it to the scalp after bathing, and leave it in overnight. Combine with almonds in the diet to maximize the effect.
As you may have guessed, scientific evidence for this claim is just about non-existent. Studies that have been performed on hair loss and the effect of supplementing with zinc have concluded thusly:
“The use of a zinc supplement in a group of 15 patients with alopecia areata and low serum zinc levels did not result in significant hair growth.”
It seems this claim might be more bunk than actual substance. Using almond oil for hair conditioning or as leave-in conditioner though, may have some use. The moisturizing ability along with some vitamins could enhance the health of existing hair, though growing new hair probably isn’t going to happen.
Antioxidant Super Powers
There is some research on almonds and antioxidant content. It turns out that almonds may have some antioxidant properties, but it’s not definite that this translates to almond oil in the same way. Furthermore:
“Before almond skins can become a viable option for use as an antioxidant in foods, better control of their microbial quality must be developed. They are currently a byproduct and based on microbiological data collected in this study new handling procedures would need to be created.”
So, not quite ready for primetime. Even when the antioxidant properties can be fully harnessed, it’s important to note that antioxidants are not a cure-all, different antioxidants will have different effects, and some antioxidants might even present a net negative effect on some individuals.
Sweet Almond Oil Products
The sweet almond oil gave birth to multiple products. Applications may vary but they carry the same amount of nutrient content and benefit.
Sweet Almond Butter
In the absence of the oil, sweet almond butter makes a great alternative. It causes the same health benefits sweet almond oil can provide. The product comes from hydrogenated sweet almond oil to give it a smooth, soft, and buttery texture just like the aloe, shea butter or avocado butter.
Many people go for a variety of hair products with sweet almond oil as the main ingredient. Not only that it soothes and strengthen the scalp, but it also protects the hair shaft. Sweet almond oil keeps the hair moisturized preventing breakage and split ends.
Sweet almond oils are also used for massage to soothe the body muscles. It can alleviate the muscle ache and fatigue. On the other hand, massage parlors also use sweet almond oil to relieve their clients from stress.
Skin Care Products
Multiple skin care products make use of sweet almond oil due to its anti-inflammatory, moisturizing, anti-oxidant and other beneficial properties. It holds healing properties which can heal minor skin irritation, oily skin and even cases of psoriasis and eczema. Sweet almond oil serves as a great make-up remover as well. There are also claims that it can lighten stretch marks with continuous usage.
Dangers Of Sweet Almond Oil
Sweet almond oil is generally safe, though individuals with diabetes should beware, as there is some basis to believe that it will alter blood sugar levels. If you have diabetes and insist on using sweet almond, make sure to carefully monitor your levels.
That potential reduction in blood sugar could also interfere with certain surgical procedures, so consider discontinuing use several weeks before any planned operations.
Why Do Outlandish Claims Persist?
Pseudoscience. The claims are presented with just enough fancy wording and scientific trappings to appear plausible, but fail to meet the standards of repeat testing. Many claims are purely anecdotal in nature and have not been tested in any official capacity.
These claims then proliferate and become part of society’s “common knowledge.” Compounding the issue is savvy marketing, which takes advantage of unproven claims to sell products to people that may or may not work as intended.
Due to previous findings of hydrogen cyanide or prussic acid in almond, America banned the use of the almond tree and its products. However, further studies proved that only by consuming large amounts of almond nuts can cyanide poisoning occur.
In the case of pure almond oil, it sees plenty of use as a cosmetic and in the kitchen, but currently, no conclusive scientific data exists to support many of the more fanciful claims about its ability to heal the body and transform individuals into the model of perfect health.