The Bioactives of Amazon Rainforest

MARACUJA (Passiflora edulis)

Cosmetic properties

The seeds contain about 3% of red-brown, very aromatic oil. It is used in high-cosmetics field for its high content (up to 70%) of Omega 6, essential fatty acid that restores the skin barrier function, as scientifically proved. The oil is rich in vitamin C, beta carotene and bioflavonoids, powerful antioxidants that protect the skin from free radical damage. Maracuja oil naturally reduces sebum excess and makes the skin fresh, silky, less oily with a pleasant feeling of clean.

Traditional use

Passiflora edulis is one of the many species of genus Passiflora, which gave name to the Passifloracee family. The plant is also used in the medicinal field: the pulp, the juice, the flowers in infusion, play a sedative and calming effect for body aches and headaches. The infusion is also used to facilitate sleep and also in cases of bronchospasms or nervous intestinal spasms.

A natural sedative product (passiflorina) is coming from its leaves. The Maracuja is widely used in the Amazon for the production of concentrated juices. It is used in many gastronomic varieties. The pulp is sweet, very fragrant and full of small seeds.

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BABASSU (Orbignya oleifera)

Cosmetic properties

Babassu oil owes its extraordinary qualities to the very high concentration of Lauric acid (approx. 40%) and myristic (approx.17%). These substances have a superior softening function that benefit especially sensitive and reddened skin through the formation of a soothing and protective skin mantle. The high content of unsaponifiable steroid and tocotrienols stimulate regenerative processes and counteract free radicals, a major cause of accelerated skin aging. Babassu oil has been used for centuries by Brazilian women to maintain the beauty of their body leaving a smooth and velvety skin.

Traditional use

In medical field the fruit is used as a “panacea” to treat stomach ulcers, colitis, varicose veins, rheumatism, hernia, allergies, obesity and alcoholism. The oil extraction is the most important vital resource for Indigenous Peoples. Babassu seeds have the highest commercial value (due to oil), but also the remaining parts (flowers, leaves, trunk) are used by the indigenous to the area.

The leaves are used as roofing, for paper making, to produce household objects. The walnut shells are ground and mixed with water to produce a drink called “babassu milk”, much appreciated by the indigenous of the region.

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CUPUAÇU (Theobroma grandiflorum)

Cupuaçu is a tree that grows only in some areas of the Amazon and it is related to Cocoa tree.

Cosmetic properties

A butter with excellent cosmetic properties is obtained from the seeds of this fruit. Rich in Omega 9, Omega 6 and Palmitic acid, the butter is particularly suitable for the treatment of dry and mature skin due to its marked nourishing and moisturizing properties. It has an excellent ability to increase the long-term hydration and this is due to its incredible capacity to absorb water up to 419% of its volume (against 289% of Shea butter).

Cupuaçu butter contains a high fraction of unsaponifiables (15%) consists of phytosterols that greatly stimulate the healing process and strengthen the hydrolipidic membrane.

Traditional use

For centuries, Amazonian population have used the fruit of Cupuaçu tree as a main source of food. Today in Brazil, the fruit pulp is used for the preparation of ice creams, juices, creams, jellies and cakes. Its seeds are used to produce a type of chocolate called “cupuace”, which however does not contain any cocoa.

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MURUMURU (Astrocaryum murumuru)

The Murumuru seeds contain a white fat (butter), odorless and tasteless especially with the advantage of not becoming easily rancid, because it is rich in saturated fatty consisting of short-chain amino acids such as Lauric and Myristic acid.

Cosmetic properties

Its rich content in fatty acids (Lauric, Myristic, Palmitic, Stearic, Oleic and Linoleic acids) promotes nutrition and integrity of the lipid barrier of the skin. The oil carries a higher softening function, forming a protective film on the skin. It softens and moisturizes in depth and it has soothing and regenerating properties. Murumuru oil is a powerful agent of skin barrier repair. It is rich in Vitamin A, in a concentration up to 4 times higher than the vitamin contained in carrot, that improves skin brightness and helps to reduce wrinkles, in particular on the skin damaged by UV rays.

Traditional use

Its fruits are an important food source for local people, for which fruits, hazels and materials derived from this plant are also relevant from an economic point of view; for example, with the fibers of the tree it is possible to realize hammocks.

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COPAIBA (Copaifera officinalis)

There are various species of Copaifera. The best kinf is Copaifera officinalis from which it is obtained the raw material for the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industry (Copaiba balsam). Copaiba resin is harvested through an incision from cell walls of the wood and it drips out as clear fluid.

Cosmetic properties

Beta-caryophyllene is the main constituent of Copaiba essential oil. It is a powerful natural germicide, effective in preventing infections and skin rashes. Its proven anti-inflammatory properties make it effective in the topical treatment of any skin disorder. Its astringent properties useful for the treatment of typical impuritiesfor oily and combination skin are aslo well known. In vitro and in vivo studies on Copaiba balsam have also highlighted the efficacy and positive results against Pityrosporum ovale, responsible for the formation of dandruff flakes.

Traditional use

The resin or Copaiba balsam, is still used by indigenous tribes for skin wounds, psoriasis and for preventing tetanus by putting it on the navel of newborns. Curanderos in the Amazon use the resin for all types of pain, for skin disorders, insect bites and inflammation.

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ANDIROBA (Carapa guaianensis)

Andiroba tree grows wild in the Brazilian Amazon. The tree produces higly fragrant flowers and woody and brown berries which contain many of polyhedral-shaped seeds from which the yellow pale oil is extracted.

Cosmetic properties

The rich composition in unsaturated fatty acids (Oleic, Linoleic, Linolenic, Palmitic, Stearic acids) makes Andiroba oil a valuable cosmetic ingredient with exceptional restorative, moisturizing and soothing properties. In particular, the linolenic acid helps to normalize the life cycle of skin cells and also to end the uncontrolled growth of pigment-producing cells that contribute to the formation of brown spots. Tests carried out on Andiroba oil have also highlighted its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties due to the presence of biologically active Limonoids and Terpenoids.

Traditional use

Still today, Andiroba oil is widely used to treat many skin diseases and as a natural repellent against harmful insects (mosquitoes, flies, etc.). The oil is traditionally used by Brazilians to treat and relieve the physical symptoms associated with arthritis and rheumatism. It is used in the treatment of skin damaged due to cuts, scrapes, abrasions and injuries, in the treatment of fractures and also to bring relief from pain and swelling in the course of an injury.

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BRASIL NUT (Bertolletia excelsa)

Cosmetic properties

Brazil Nut oil is extraordinarily rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids (75%). Polyunsaturated fatty acids and in particular Omega-6 and Omega-3 essential fatty acids play a strong moisturizing and nourishing action by returning skin elasticity and promoting skin regeneration. The oil is rich in Vitamin E, which, in synergy with Selenium (the highest concentration in kind), plays an important role against premature skin aging. Through a powerful antioxidant, it protects human cells against free radicals that could damage them. Excellent emollient, oil of Brasil Nut, restores the skin elasticity and flexibility thanks also to the high content of plant proteins (17%).

Traditional use

In the Brazilian Amazon many liver dysfunctions are treated, even today, with a tea infusion mixed with the bark of the Brasil Nut tree. The nuts of Brasil Nut are also a vital source of food. The fleshy and white pulp of the seed is a real “calorie bomb”. Two nuts contain an amount of protein (17%) equal to that contained in one egg, but without cholesterol. 70% of the fresh fruit consists of dietary fats.

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BURITI (Mauritia flexuosa)

Cosmetic properties

Buriti oil has specific antioxidant and regenerating properties and this is why it is used in anti-aging creams because it counteracts the onset of wrinkles and sagging skin. Buriti oil is indeed an extraordinary natural source of Vitamin A (the “Vitamin of beauty”) and Vitamin E (the “vitamin of youth”), particularly valuable substances in anti-aging treatments. The oil is also rich in Omega 9 (75%) and Palmitic acid (18%) that promote skin regeneration and help to keep it supple and toned.

Traditional use

Buriti tree is a robust palm tree called by indigenous peoples “tree of life” because it provides everything necessary for survival: house, objects, food. With buriti palm fibers palm artisans produce bags and hats. From leaves and trunk it is possible to obtain ropes, cages, hammocks and canoes. Flowers, for example, are used by many local populations to combat intestinal problems. Local population draws a reddish oil from its fruit pulp that is used on the body for its cicatrising power.

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AÇAI (Euterpe oleracea)

Cosmetic properties

Besides the presence of Omega 6 and Omega 9 saturated and unsaturated fatty acids which play an important moisturizing, softening and rejuvenating, Açai oil contains a very high concentration of beta-carotene (Vitamin A) in a concentrations up to 185 times higher than that contained in apricots; ascorbic acid (Vitamin C); polyphenols (Anthocyanins) whose anti-oxidant properties are 15-30 times more effective than Vitamin E. The antioxidant action of these vitamins and anthocyanins provides an effective anti-aging effect, neutralizing free radicals as soon as they appear and effectively counteracting the onset of wrinkles and sagging skin.

Traditional use

Over three million Brazilians living in the northern part of the Amazon rainforest survive thanks to Açai, the fruit of a palm tree that grows spontaneously and solely in these parts. Similar to a cross between a grape and a blueberry, the açai berry (pronounced ah-sigh-ee) accompanies all their meals, from breakfast to dinner. For its  nutritional properties, it is called by native indians “the fruit of life.” Until 1999, Açai was only known in the Amazon (in Rio de Janeiro or Sao Paulo many had not even heard of it).  Açai was “discovered” in 1999 when the ethno-botanical research has found that it is one of the most nutritious fruits for its incredible nutritional composition. Since then, Açai has gone from being a secret to be the most sought and appreciated fruit in the world.

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TUCUMA (Astrocaryum tucuma)

Cosmetic properties

The butter extracted from the pulp is rich in Lauric, Myristic and oleic fatty acids with excellentskin regenerative properties. Eccellente moisturizer and emollient, butter keeps your skin soft, smooth and nourished. The highest concentration of beta-carotene (25 times greater than that contained in carrots), stimulates cell renewal, promotes the synthesis of new collagen and protects the skin from environmental aggressions and free radicals.

Traditional use

The leaves of the Tucuma plant provide a very resistant fiber, ideal for baskets, while the seeds are used in crafts. The fruit is eaten raw or in the form of a juice called “Tucuma wine” that is mixed with water or turned into an ice cream. Tucuma oil is used in cooking and massage.

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PRACAXI (Pentaclethra macroloba)

The Pracaxi plant is widespread in the subtropical rain forests of the Amazon. The precious oil that is cold-pressed, is extracted from the seeds of Pentaclethra macroloba, using the same method as hundreds of years ago.

Cosmetic properties

Called by local people “miracle oil” due to its high capacity to reconstruct the cutaneous tissue and to stimulate cicatrizing processes, Pracaxi oil is one of the highest sources of behenic acid of all plants know. Endowed with antibacterial properties, it is rich in organic acids (Omega 9, Omega 6, Palmitic, Stearic, Myristic, Lauric) that are extraordinarily effective on prematurely aged skins.

Excellent moisturizing, Praxaci oil keeps the skin elastic, promotes cell renewal and healing processes, improves the tone and skin elasticity, reduces wrinkles and skin irregularities.

Traditional use

Pracaxi oil is used for generations to treat skin blemishes, skin infections, streaks, severe acne and scarring as well as an effective natural remedy for psoriasis and rosacea. It is very used after cesarean operations and other surgeries.

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