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10 Amazing Benefits of Apricot Kernel Oil
There are many beneficial forms of oil for culinary and therapeutic purposes, but apricot kernel oil is one that many people don’t even know exists. Before adding this unique oil to your health regimen, however, it is critical that you understand where it comes from and what potential benefits it holds for your health, as well as any side affects you may experience.
What is Apricot Kernel Oil?
As the name clearly suggests, apricot kernel oil is derived from the kernel (e.g. seed, pit) of an apricot, the fruit of the apricot tree, scientifically known as Prunus armeniaca. While there are a number of different species called apricot, they have very similar nutrient profiles, as does the oil contained within their kernels. Using a cold-pressing method, apricot kernel oil can be removed from the hard pit in the center of the fruit.
This oil is quite light and has a nutty, aromatic flavor, making it a popular addition to many culinary efforts in certain parts of the world. In some cases, people replace almond oil with apricot kernel oil for cooking and medicinal purposes. There is a high concentration of oil in each kernel and has likely been in use for thousands of years, given its multiple applications in Chinese traditional medicine. There are two different varieties of apricot kernel oil – one used for cosmetic purposes and the other for culinary consumption. This oil has high levels of vitamin E, vitamin K, and a number of powerful antioxidants, such as caffeic acid and various catechins, all of which leads to the many health benefits of this oil.
What the Hunzas Knew About Apricot Kernels
In the 1930s, Major Sir Robert McCarrison wrote about a tribe called the Hunzas who lived in the remote countryside of the Himalayas near Northern Pakistan.
He encountered this hardy community while he was working with the Indian Medical Service. According McCarrison’s written observations, the Hunzas seemed to enjoyed near-perfect health. Some lived to be over 135 years old and no one in their clan had any of the conditions so common in the modern world, such as diabetes, obesity, heart attack, and cancer.
Then, twenty years later, Dr. Ernest Krebs, a biochemist with a desire to understand what makes cancer cells work, discovered McCarrison’s writing about apricot kernels. Krebs also began studying the lifestyle habits of the Hunzas.
What became clear to Krebs was that the Hunzas’ vitality had a lot to do with their overall lifestyle and diet. Their diet consisted of raw milk, the occasional meat and bone broth, fresh grains and veggies. They ate little sugar and, as nomads and herders, they naturally got plenty of exercise. The other characteristic that was unique about the Hunzas is that they ate massive quantities of apricot seed kernels.
Intrigued, Krebs continued his research until he found what he thought was the secret weapon inside the humble apricot kernel when it came to tumor eradication – the glycoside amygdalin.
What is Amygdalin?
Amygdalin is a powerful phytonutrient that is found in apricot kernels, along with many other seed-bearing natural foods (estimates range from 1,200 to 1,500 foods). It is found in the highest concentrations and with the most effective accompanying enzymes in apricot seed kernels. Amygdalin is a nitriloside and its structure most resembles that of a B complex vitamin, so Krebs named it “B17.” The substance laetrile was created by Dr. Krebs as a concentrate of amygdalin and is created by extracting it from apricot kernels.
Health Benefits of Apricot Kernel Oil
There are quite a few notable health benefits of apricot kernel oil, including its ability to moisturize the skin, protect the hair, reduce symptoms of acne, and prevent certain types of cancer, among others.
Moisturizes the Skin
When topically applied, the emollient properties of apricot kernel oil can help to exfoliate and moisturize the skin, helping it retain moisture, eliminating patches of dry skin, and relieving inflammatory conditions, such as rosacea, psoriasis, and eczema.
Improves Hair Health
Many people use this oil on their hair and scalp, as it can help to strengthen weak hair strands and promote the health of hair follicles.It can reduce the levels of certain chemicals that accumulate in the scalp in response to testosterone, which can slow hair growth and even lead to hair loss. Rubbing this oil into the scalp will also reduce inflammatory conditions on the scalp, such as dandruff.
Packed with antioxidants, apricot kernel oil is able to reduce oxidative stress in the skin, which is good news for people who are suffering from premature aging or have wrinkles. These antioxidants can help to tighten and tone the skin, reducing the appearance of age spots and preventing cellular mutation, which can lead to skin cancer.
It can be difficult to eliminate acne, but suppressing the symptoms is often the first step. Applying apricot kernel oil to the site of an acne flare-up can reduce inflammation and prevent the buildup of sebum in the glands, treating both the symptoms and the underlying problem.
Improves Respiratory Health
In very small amounts, some natural healers recommend the use of apricot kernel oil to relieve respiratory distress. Small amounts can be consumed to treat this area of the body, or you can add some of this oil to aromatic diffusers to help relieve inflammation in the respiratory tracts.
If you are suffering from chronic pain and inflammation from a condition like arthritis or gout, topically applying this oil to the area of discomfort can quickly soothe pain and reduce swelling and redness.
Apricot Kernel Oil Uses
This specialized oil has become quite popular in recent years and has gained a lot of attention due to its many applications, including topical use, cosmetic products, biodiesel production, and as a hair mask, among others.
You will often find this oil blended into natural cosmetics, including moisturizers, exfoliators and face masks, as this can directly impact the health and appearance of your facial skin.
When this oil is blended with other carrier oils, it can be made into a hair mask and applied directly to your scalp and locks. This should only be allowed to sit on the scalp for 15-20 minutes before gently washing out with warm water.
There are many topical uses of apricot kernel oil, on the temples for headaches, sore joints and muscles for inflammation, and the improvement of skin conditions on various parts of the body.
The therapeutic benefits of the apricot Kernel Oil for skin, wrinkle and acne treatments
Apricot kernel oil is good for your skin and body – it works doubly as well when combined with almond oil. Apricot oil contains strong antioxidant properties that, when applied topically, penetrate the surface of your skin and removes harmful bacteria and free-radicals that can lead to infection or cause general skin irritation and dryness.
By penetrating beneath the surface skin layer, the oil also nourishes and replenishes moisture and vitamins that are lost over the course of the day. This will restore your skin’s natural luster and keep it looking healthy.
When applying apricot kernel oil to your skin, it’s important to note that it does have a mild comedogenic quality (a rating of 2). This means that it can block up pores and lead to blemishes and blackheads – so it’s important to rinse your face with water and dry pat with a clean towel after applying the oil. I do however, still recommend that you use the oil for treating your face – so long as you do so in small amounts.
The healthy nutrient and vitamin content of the oil helps to nourish your skin, and the antioxidants will remove and germs that could lead to infection or worsen the symptoms of acne. The high Vitamin K, E and Omega 6 content found in apricot oil also helps to relieve the signs of dark circles that occur under the eyes.
The oil allows the nutrients to penetrate the surface of your skin and nourish your blood cells. In order to have a stronger effect on relieving the dark circles and fight the signs of aging on your skin, I recommend adding lemongrass, bergamot or orange essential oil to the apricot oil in order to stimulate blood circulation.
Some of the leading causes of dark circles is a lack of nutrients in the blood cells and a stagnation of the flow of the capillaries. The skin layer is thinner in that area and patchiness will show through – hence the darkening of the skin. Treat regularly as a means of speeding up the recovery process and prolonging the effects.
Apricot Kernel Oil VS. Sweet Almond Essential Oil
Almond Essential Oil
Both oils are equally effective in treating hair and skin issues and both have strong health benefits when ingested orally. In fact, they’re very similar in many regards: they taste almost the same, they both contain similar vitamin types (A,C,E, K etc.), they both have high levels of linalool and they both act as natural antioxidants.
However, sweet almond oil is a bit better for use on your face (or more sensitive skin types) because of its low comedogenic rating. This means that it will not block up your pores or create unwanted blemishes or blackhead when applied.
However, apricot oil works very well as a massage oil and penetrates the skin much deeper than almond oil. This makes it more effective for treating muscle and joint pains and for relieving dry, cracked skin. Both have their pros and cons, but really – they work best when used together.
Why is cold pressed Apricot Kernel Oil best?
Cold pressed apricot oil is generally considered the best option for regular use and consumption because it contains the highest amount of pure nutrient extracts and vitamin content. Organically sourced apricot oil is even better as some commercially cultivated apricots are treated with harmful pesticides that can penetrate the flesh of the fruit and in some cases even enter into the kernel. Any chemicals that make it into the kernel will show up in the oil – so be sure to source naturally grown apricot oils for the best results.
How to make DIY Apricot Kernel Oil
Apricot kernel oil generally cannot be produced at home as you need industrial machinery to provide the best results. However, you’re in luck because I took the effort of researching the industrial method and figured out a way to reverse-engineer the process – just for you! Although, it’s still quite costly and time consuming and will wind up costing you a lot more than just buying the readymade product – but for those among you who enjoy a challenge, or are looking for a new hobby, try this on size.
Firstly, you have to obtain roughly 500 grams of sweet apricot kernels or seeds (they look roughly like almonds). Let the apricot seeds soak in water for at least 20 minutes so that they become nice and soft. Now, crush the seeds with a mortar and pestle. Make sure that you get them as fine as possible. You need to get them down to a powder-like state, so keep crushing.
If you’re mortar isn’t large enough, you can do it in parts or use a blender. If you find that you’re not achieving the desired results yet, pour the crushed shells out and use a sharp knife or roller blade to chop them into finer pieces and then continue crushing with the mortar and pestle. Add roughly 20 ml of water to the crushed apricots. The seeds are close to being ready for oil extraction when they’re in a paste-like state.
Now comes the tricky part. You need to heat the paste from the mortar in a pan with a tablespoon of coconut or olive oil. Not too hot, just so that you evaporate some of the water from the paste and make it thicker – more oily. To extract the oil, you need to subject this paste to a large amount of pressure.
I recommend placing some plastic sandwich wrap on the floor or on your kitchen counter (your spillage catchment safety net) and place a cutting board on top of that. Then cover your cutting board with a sheet of the same plastic wrapping and make sure you wrap it underneath the board, so that it stays in place.
Roll the paste out with all your might – and I mean really, as much pressure as you can apply, even if it means calling a friend or family member who does heavy-lifting/gyms regularly. By doing this, you should see small amounts of oil escaping the paste – I’m talking tears here. Fret not, pure oil occurs in small amount – which why I still recommend purchasing readymade oil. But that basically how to do it in a nutshell. Note that this recipe isn’t fool proof and amounts may vary on the results you get or the amount you wish to create.