Moringa oil, Moringa oleifera, is one of the ancient oils along with flax, castor, and olive. So ancient it is that moringa oil has been discovered in Egyptian tombs. As a native tree of the lowlands of the Himalayas, it has spread widely in the Indian subcontinent, Africa, Oceania, and to the new world Americas. The small tree is fast-growing, heat and light-loving and can be grown in arid regions where water is scarce.
Moringa is a nutritious whole plant. The tree as a whole is highly nutritious and all parts are used traditionally, including the leaves, mature seeds, flowers, and roots. And most especially for us, the oil pressed from the seeds.
Behenic acid from the Ben Oil Tree
What is most interesting about moringa oil is its unusual fatty acid structure. And one fatty acid, in particular, Behenic acid has a very long, 22, carbon-chain and is saturated, making up to ten percent of the oil. Moringa oil was the first discovered source of behenic fatty acid and so a common name for moringa oil is Ben oil and Ben oil tree.
Fatty acids longer than 18 carbons tend to be rare and yet bring important properties to oils that contain them. Behenic acid as a very-long-chain will help preserve the oil. In moringa oil, the long saturated chain inhibits oxidation of the oil for up to five years, which is an extremely long shelf life for plant oils.
The longevity and stability of moringa oil make it ideal for enfleurage, the extraction of aromatic plant compounds by repeated application of scented botanicals. The process leaves the scent behind in the oil or fat once the plant material has been extracted and removed.
Skin Care Benefits
High in antioxidants vitamins and minerals moringa oil nourishes while the fatty acids protect and improve the tone and texture of the skin. An excellent oil for very dry skin, moringa also helps improve the look of dark areas and additional compounds help to protect the skin when subject to excessive sun exposure.
The Fatty Acids
Moringa oil is high in oleic acid 70%, but ten percent very-long-chain behenic acid helps keep it from feeling oily on the skin and helps to protect skin and hair against oxidation and environmental damage. In addition, moringa oil can contain up to 2% palmitoleic acid, that omega 7, fatty acid that helps to preserve skin health especially as we grow older.
Using Moringa Oil for Skincare
Use Moringa oil in recipes and formulas for mature skin, or use it alone as a facial oil. You can also use it to help prolong the shelf life of other oils in formulas and for herbal infusions.
This versatile oil protects against free radical damage, reduces the visible fine lines and wrinkles and signs of aging. It is also antiseptic and anti-inflammatory endowing it with properties to help improve difficult and acne-prone skin conditions.
Have you worked with this lovely oil yet? Leave a comment or question below.