In the springtime Carapa guianensis is covered with attractive sweet-scented red flowers. It is a tropical tree that thrives in the Amazon Rainforest and Central America, on the land lining the river that snakes through the forest. The andiroba grows in the vicinity of the rubber tree and the ucuhuba, or baboonwood. Its fruit, shaped like a tiny flying saucer, contains about ten nuts.
This tree has been revered since ancient times by the people of the Amazon Rainforest. The Indians of the warlike Munduruku tribe used andiroba oil to mummify their spoils of war. The leaves of the andiroba, very bitter to the taste, were among the ingredients of concoctions used to cure fevers and digestive disorders. For centuries people have been extracting a rich, light oil from its nuts, and praises have been sung about its rejuvenating power. Andiroba oil contains substances that repel insects and parasites, notably head lice and ticks. It also gently soothes bites and stings. The Brazilian Health Department has entered Carapa guianensis into the national registry of useful medicinal plants.
In the delta of the Amazon River, the natives used to pick up andiroba fruit that had washed off onto the river’s banks and bends and boil them in water for several hours. Dried in the shade for several days and then shelled, the fruit was simply sliced and packed together in a punctured container, letting its precious brown oil flow out slowly through the holes. This traditional, almost ritualistic mode of collection is no longer in use. Nowadays, the fruit is harvested differently, and the oil obtained by cold-pressing. It is characterised by a pale yellow tint and a slight opacity. Though it remains fluid in warm climates, this thin-textured substance hardens as soon as the temperature drops below 25°C/77°F. All you have to do then is to run the vial under warm water before use (or keep the product at room temperature all the time).
Health Benefits of Andiroba Oil
Organic Andiroba Oil is highly effective at moisturising dry cracked skin and is perfect at healing eczema and psoriasis. Oleic and palmitic acids, of which Andiroba Oil has a high concentration, are two fatty acids that help with hydrating and softening the skin. Phytosterols stimulate microcirculation and improve the complexion. Andirobin and vitamin F, thanks to their antiseptic and soothing properties, are veritable balm for “teenage”, damaged skin, as well as skin marked by blemishes or acne.