Topical Products - Shea Butter


  1. Draelos ZD (2016). A pilot study investigating the efficacy of botanical anti-inflammatory agents in an OTC eczema therapy, 15: 117-119. J Cosmet Dermatol.

    Summary: In the over-the-counter realm, there are a finite number of ingredients that can be used to deliver cutaneous benefits. This moisturizer containing shea butter was able to ameliorate the signs and symptoms of eczema in a small study population. More research is needed on the added value of anti-inflammatory botanicals in eczema therapy.

    Abstract: Background: Eczema is a frequently encountered dermatologic condition characterized by inflammation resulting in erythema, scaling, induration, and lichenification.

    Aims: The objective of this research was to examine the roll of botanical anti-inflammatories in alleviating the signs and symptoms of mild-to-moderate eczema.

    Method: A total of 25 subjects 18+ years of age with mild-to-moderate eczema were asked to leave all oral medications and cleansers unchanged substituting the botanical study moisturizer for all topical treatment three times daily for 2 weeks. Investigator, subject, and noninvasive assessments were obtained at baseline and week 2.

    Results: There was a highly statistically significant (P < 0.001) improvement in investigator-assessed irritation, erythema, desquamation, roughness, dryness, lichenification, itching, and overall skin appearance after 2 weeks of botanical anti-inflammatory moisturizer use. Overall, a 79% reduction in itching was noted. Skin hydration as measured by corneometry increased 44% increase (P < 0.001).

    Conclusion: The study moisturizer containing the occlusive ingredients of dimethicone and shea butter oil; the humectant ingredients of glycerin, vitamin B, sodium PCA, and sodium hyaluronate; the barrier repair ingredients of ceramide 3, cholesterol, phytosphingosine, ceramide 6 II, and ceramide 1; and the botanical anti-inflammatories allantoin and bisabolol were helpful in reducing the signs and symptoms of mild-to-moderate eczema.

  1. Foyet HS et al (2015). Anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic activity of a methanol extract from Vitellaria paradoxa stem bark, 7: 367-377. Pharmacognosy Res.

    Summary: VPME (shea) has significant anti‑inflammatory and anti‑arthritic effects in carrageenan‑induced inflammation and CFA‑induced arthritic animal model, respectively. Furthermore, it has been shown that VPME inhibited both the hyperalgesia due to CFA‑injection and some hematological disorders associated with the arthritic condition. These results suggest that VPME may be a potent candidate for anti‑inflammatory and anti‑rheumatic drug. Further experimentation is needed in order to understand the precise mechanism of action of this extract.

    Abstract: Background: Vitellaria paradoxa (shea) is a traditional medicinal plant of Cameroon. Several studies on this plant have focused on the cosmetic profile of its fruits. The present study focuses on the anti-inflammatory potency of stem barks extract of this plant. Objective: The objective was to evaluate the effect of methanolic extract of V. paradoxa (VPME) stem barks on inflammatory response in rats.

    Materials and methods: Anti-inflammatory effects of VPME were evaluated in acute and chronic (28 days) inflammation induced in Wistar albino rats. The effects on hyperalgesia and locomotors activity were also quantified. The relative weight of lymphoid organs was obtained as well as some hematological parameters.

    Results: In the carrageenan-induced inflammation, VPME (75 mg/kg) exhibited a significant (66.67%) inhibition after 1 h. On the complete Freund's adjuvant-induced rheumatoid arthritis, VPME showed a significant protective effect with 8.12% inflammation against 25.00% for the control group after 2 days of the treatment. The extract (75 and 150 mg/kg) significantly reduced the score of arthritis with a maximum obtained on day 19(th) of the experimentation. There was a significant increase in the reaction time of rats on the hot plate as well as the exploratory activities of the animals in the open field. This extract significantly prevented weight, hemoglobin and red blood cells losses, and spleen hypertrophy. A protective action against skin destruction and cartilage erosion was evident. Liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry analysis of the extract revealed the presence of catechins.

    Conclusions: These findings suggested that V. paradoxa may contribute to the reduction of the inflammatory response.

  1. Israel MO et al (2014). Effects of Topical and Dietary Use of Shea Butter on Animals, 2: 303-307. Am J Life Sci.

    Summary: In summary, there is enough evidence to substantiate the claims of the health benefits of the topical use of Shea butter as a skin care product and has demonstrated anti-aging and anti-inflammatory properties.

    Abstract: Shea butter is the fat extracted from the nut of Africa Shea tree (Vitellaria paradoxa). It is used in cosmetic formulations and as a substitute for Cocoa butter in chocolate industries. It is edible and used cooking fat in Africa. The saponifiable fraction of Shea butter is composed primarily of stearic and oleic acids with lesser amounts of palmitic, linoleic and arachidic acids while the unsaponifiable fraction of Shea butter is composed of bioactive substances that are responsible for Shea butter’s medicinal properties. Shea butter is a solid at room temperature and melts at body temperature. It is therefore useful for skin care as it has sun screening properties and acts as an emollient and skin moisturizer. Topical use of Shea butter has also demonstrated anti-aging and anti-inflammatory properties. Dietary intake of Shea butter has hypocholesterolemic effect and reduces serum and organ protein concentrations.

  1. Lin T-K et al (2018). Review: Anti-Inflammatory and Skin Barrier Repair Effects of Topical Application of Some Plant Oils, 19: 70-91. Int J Mol Sci.

    Summary: Topical applications of plant oils including sunflower and coconut oils and shea butter may have different effect on the skin according to their composition and the pathophysiological context of the skin. The composition varies by different extraction methods. When applied topically, constituents of plant oils (triglycerides, phospholipids, FFAs, phenolic compounds and antioxidants) may act synergistically by several mechanisms: (i) promoting skin barrier homeostasis; (ii) antioxidative activities; (iii) anti-inflammatory properties; (iv) direct and indirect (upregulation of antimicrobial peptides) anti-microbial properties; (v) promoting wound healing; and (vi) anti-carcinogenic properties. Future studies can add to current findings.

    Abstract: Plant oils have been utilized for a variety of purposes throughout history, with their integration into foods, cosmetics, and pharmaceutical products. They are now being increasingly recognized for their effects on both skin diseases and the restoration of cutaneous homeostasis. This article briefly reviews the available data on biological influences of topical skin applications of some plant oils (olive oil, olive pomace oil, sunflower seed oil, coconut oil, safflower seed oil, argan oil, soybean oil, peanut oil, sesame oil, avocado oil, borage oil, jojoba oil, oat oil, pomegranate seed oil, almond oil, bitter apricot oil, rose hip oil, German chamomile oil, and shea butter). Thus, it focuses on the therapeutic benefits of these plant oils according to their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects on the skin, promotion of wound healing and repair of skin barrier.

  1. Honfo FG et al (2014). Nutritional composition of shea products and chemical properties of shea butter: a review, 54: 673-686. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr.

    Summary: To date, the literature shows a wide variation of research on shea products, with a fair number of investigations of shea butter. The shea butter has some antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities even if most of this butter is extracted by traditional methods. Of greater interest is the very active level of research on the uses of shea butter in the medicinal, foods, and cosmetics industries, as evidenced by a steady and current flow of research publications in these fields. Further research is necessary.

    Abstract: Increasing demand of shea products (kernels and butter) has led to the assessment of the state-of-the-art of these products. In this review, attention has been focused on macronutrients and micronutrients of pulp, kernels, and butter of shea tree and also the physicochemical properties of shea butter. Surveying the literature revealed that the pulp is rich in vitamin C (196.1 mg/100 g); consumption of 50 g covers 332% and 98% of the recommended daily intake (RDI) of children (4-8 years old) and pregnant women, respectively. The kernels contain a high level of fat (17.4-59.1 g/100 g dry weight). Fat extraction is mainly done by traditional methods that involve roasting and pressing of the kernels, churning the obtained liquid with water, boiling, sieving, and cooling. The fat (butter) is used in food preparation and medicinal and cosmetics industries. Its biochemical properties indicate some antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities. Large variations are observed in the reported values for the composition of shea products. Recommendations for future research are presented to improve the quality and the shelf-life of the butter. In addition, more attention should be given to the accuracy and precision in experimental analyses to obtain more reliable information about biological variation.

  1. Verma N et al (2012). Anti-inflammatory effects of shea butter through inhibition of iNOS, COX-2, and cytokines via the Nf-κB pathway in LPS-activated J774 macrophage cells, 9: Article 4. J Complement Integr Med.

    Summary: Shea butter has bioactivity against various inflammatory conditions by affecting the activities of certain inflammatory molecules. This substantiates it as a potential source for future therapies.

    Abstract: Shea butter is traditionally used in Africa for its anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects. In this study we explored the anti-inflammatory activities of the methanolic extract of shea butter (SBE) using lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced murine macrophage cell line J774. It was observed that SBE significantly reduced the levels of LPS-induced nitric oxide, Tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), interleukins, 1β (IL-1β), and -12 (IL-12) in the culture supernatants in a dose dependent manner. Expression of pro-inflammatory enzymes, inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) were also inhibited by SBE. These anti-inflammatory effects were due to an inhibitory action of SBE on LPS-induced iNOS, COX-2, TNF-α, IL-1β, and IL-12 mRNA expressions. Moreover, SBE efficiently suppressed IκB phosphorylation and NF-κB nuclear translocation induced by LPS. These findings explain the molecular bases of shea butter's bioactivity against various inflammatory conditions and substantiate it as a latent source of novel therapeutic agents.

  1. Akihisa T et al (2010). Anti-inflammatory and chemopreventive effects of triterpene cinnamates and acetates from shea fat, 59: 273-280. J Oleo Sci.

    Summary: From the results of the in vivo and in vitro tests it appears the triterpene cinnamates and triterpene acetates isolated from shea fat, especially lupeol cinnamate could be valuable as anti-inflammatory agents and chemopreventive ages in chemical carcinogenesis. The study’s results will be valuable for further utilization of shea fat in product applications in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical fields in the future.

    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. Compound 3c (10 mg/kg) further exhibited anti-inflammatory activity on rat hind paw edema induced by carrageenan, with the percentage of inflammation at 1, 3, and 5 h of 35.4, 41.5, and 45.5%, respectively. The eight triterpene esters were then evaluated for their inhibitory effects on Epstein-Barr virus early antigen (EBV-EA) in Raji cells as a primary screening test for inhibitors of tumor promoters. All the compounds showed moderate inhibitory effects. Furthermore, compound 3c exhibited inhibitory effect on skin tumor promotion in an in vivo two-stage carcinogenesis test using 7,12-dimethylbenz [a] anthracene (DMBA) as an initiator and TPA as a promoter. 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.