Maracuja is a word that comes from the Amazon region of the world and refers to the passion fruit as it’s typically extracted from either the seeds of the fruit or from passion flowers, an exotic, beautiful flower that offers a host of health benefits. Relatively expensive, it’s become increasing popular for using to improve the skin, hair, and nails, though it offers a wealth of other beneficial properties to the mind and body as well.
Passion fruits themselves are grown in just about every warm climate that is frost-free all year round, such as the South Pacific, Central America, the Middle East, the Mediterranean, and other subtropical locations throughout the world. Cultures in these regions often utilize it in their cuisine as it’s so readily grown in many different places and varieties. Native Americans were said to have applied passion flower topically to boils, and they also drank infusions of it in order to improve liver health and as a blood tonic. Other tribes consumed the edible fruit of passion flower, whole or juiced. The Aztecs of Mexico used it as a sedative to treat insomnia and nervousness. Eventually, the plant was taken back to Europe where it became widely cultivated and introduced into European medicine.
The fruit is popular for breakfast, often made into a juice, and to provide an exotic flavor to snacks, salsa, salads, and desserts. It looks a bit strange growing on creeper vines, and can wrap itself around almost any surface and cling on, seeking out sunlight. Despite its appearance, it is widely celebrated and eaten around the world and has been for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. There are more than 500 varieties, and their appearance can vary significantly. Typically, the fruit is yellow or dark purple, and looks a little like a grapefruit. The somewhat bizarre-looking interior is filled with an abundance of seeds and juicy meat.
Maracuja or passion fruit oil is a rich source of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and essential antioxidants, and it’s considered to be an excellent emollient with the ability to moisturize as it easily penetrates deep into the skin while preventing moisture from seeping out. Just a few of its vitamins and minerals which includes antioxidants, flavonoids, vitamin A, vitamin C, riboflavin, niacin, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, fiber, and protein. The quercetin in the passion flower is considered to be one of the most powerfully protective compounds known and offers numerous beneficial compounds, including potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.
While this oil hasn’t been studied extensively, there have been several studies that have revealed just how it can help. Research published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition showed that the oil extracted from passion fruit seeds was rich in linoleic acid, one of the essential fatty acids which plays a key role in supporting skin health. In fact, it contains 72.6 percent linoleic acid, which makes it one of the best sources of the essential fatty acid on the planet.
Another study, published in the journal Molecules suggested that maracuja oil has a high antioxidant activity. Although this study did not look at the skin-protecting properties of Maracuja Oil, there is some evidence that topical use of antioxidant creams and oils may help fight sun damage and perhaps even reverse the signs of the damage, as it contains carotenoids, which are renowned for its ability to protect from sun damage.
To date, maracuja oil has been found to offer the following properties:
Anti-inflammatory: It helps to reduce inflammation, something that’s considered to be the root of many illnesses and disease.
Emollient: An emollient is considered to be an outstanding moisturizer for the skin.
Antioxidant: Its compounds have the ability to scavenge free radicals which help to prevent the tissues from damage.
Anti-insomnia: It helps to induce more restful sleep.
Anti-itch: It can relieving skin itching.
Anti-stress: It’s been found to have a powerful stress-relieving effect.
Anti-tussive: It’s an effective cough suppressant.
Anti-asthmatic: It can reduce the symptoms of asthma and bronchial spasms.
Anxiolytic: It can help relieve the symptoms of anxiety.
Looking into its remarkable benefits further, you’re sure to find that maracuja oil is one you’ll definitely want to have on hand.
9 Benefits of Maracuja Oil
1. Soothing dry skin
As maracuja oil is an outstanding emollient, it’s especially effective for dry skin and can be applied to help keep it hydrated. As some people can be sensitive to it, it’s best to do a patch test on a small area of the skin first – then, if there is no signs of irritation, you can safely apply the oil in its undiluted form. Simply add a few drops of the oil onto the palm of your hand and then rub it gently into the dry areas of your skin. It’s light, which means it won’t feel greasy after applying, yet it does a great job of moisturizing. If you have large dry areas of skin, be sure to dilute it with a carrier oil first, such as olive oil, jojoba or olive oil – it will last much longer and still be effective.
2. Battle acne
Maracuja oil can be good for acne–prone skin as well due to its non-clogging moisturizing action, however, it may have the opposite effect in some, so use sparingly in a small area until you know how it will affect your particular skin.
3. Treating skin that’s been damaged by the sun
Maracuja oil helps heal and repair age and sun damage without causing breakouts. As you’re probably well aware, prolonged exposure to the sun without protection also exposes us to harmful UV radiation. UV rays are especially hazardous to the skin, and particularly UVB rays. Over time, they lead to skin damage, a primary characteristic of accelerated aging like wrinkles, age or dark spots and blemishes. This is in part due to its anti-inflammatory properties and may also be due to its vitamin C content, a vitamin that is essential for the manufacture of collagen. The vitamin C content in the oil can also help to make your skin look brighter skin, and its calcium and phosphorus work together to nourish your skin while enhancing its healthy appearance.
Collagen is a protein that is central to the elasticity and regeneration of our skin. It’s responsible for keeping skin firm, plump, smooth and younger looking. After the age of about 20, our natural production of collagen decreases by one percent every year which is why we typically begin to notice the earliest signs of aging in the skin, such as discovering a few fine lines here and there, as we approach our mid-thirties. By the time we reach 40, our skin is no longer producing collagen and it begins to lose elasticity. Approaching 50, more profound aging effects kick in, like sagging and deeper wrinkles. The skin is now much thinner and more prone to damage.
Fortunately, maracuja oil can help. Nutrients like lycopene, as well as linoleic acid we discussed previously, helps to aid the skin in recovering from that sun-induced damage and promote collagen production. Simply rub the oil into affected areas of the skin – even if you don’t have much noticeable damage, apply it to areas like the forehead and around the eyes that are especially prone in order to help prevent it.
4. Relieving the pain of sore muscles
In addition to its topical use in skincare, maracuja oil can also be used as a massage oil to help ease the pain of arthritic joints and muscle pain. Blend olive oil with maracuja oil and simply massage it into your sore muscles and then perform some basic stretching on that muscle group for additional relief. As maracuja is anti-inflammatory, it can reduce that excess inflammation that causes sore muscles. Its rich linoleic acid content further helps in lowering inflammation for maximum relief.
5. Anxiety relief
As mentioned, maracuja oil has been found to offer anxiolytic effects, which simply means it can help reduce anxiety. Maracuja oil produced from passion flower seeds is the most effective for this particular benefit. To utilize it, all you need to do is open up a bottle of the oil and then inhale and exhale, slowly and deeply, for about 20 minutes.
6. Promoting a better night’s rest
One often overlooked property of this oil is that it contains medicinal alkaloids, including harman which functions as a sedative. That compound has been linked to a reduction in restlessness and insomnia. Its anti-anxiety abilities mean it also works to prevent nervous anxiety that can prevent one from getting a good night’s sleep.
There are a number of ways you can use it – simply sprinkle a few drops across your pillow, while the scent is faint, it’s still effective for inducing sleep. You can also inhale the oil by taking a steam bath. Just before bed, prepare a warm bath. Once the bathtub is filled, at least enough to cover your body, add 10 to 20 drops of maracuja oil and then soak in the water. The warm water will then release steam that contains volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, from the oil. If you have a vent in the bathroom, turn it off for the most powerful effects. As long as the bath stays warm, the aroma should become more pronounced. When you’re finished, the combination of the warm water and the sleep-inducing effects of maracuja oil will help you sleep like a baby.
7. Calm frazzled nerves
In addition to being an excellent sleep aid, maracuja oil is considered to be an excellent calming agent, allowing one to relax and unwind after an especially stressful day. Despite the fact that it’s incredibly effective for calming nerves, most people aren’t aware of it as the plant can’t be patented. And, as a result, pharmaceutical companies have no incentive to promote it – instead, they develop novel molecules that can be patented and earn profits for many years to come. But as drug regulations are different from the U.S. in many areas of Europe, maracuja oil is actually sold in drug stores as a nerve-calming aid. Providing you use just a tiny amount, meaning 2 to 3 drops at most, you can place it into a herbal tea or water and sip as a beverage for stress relief, relaxing with the calming power of one of nature’s great medicinal plants.
8. Improve scalp and hair health
Applying maracuja oil to the scalp and/or hair is said to promote hair growth as well as to treat dry or damaged hair. Thanks to its anti-itch properties, it helps to relieve the itch of dandruff and other scalp conditions. To use it as a scalp treatment, apply several drops to your scalp just before you shower and then massage in. Allow the oil to penetrate for several minutes, and then wash the hair as usual. For treating the dry ends of your hair, towel dry it first after you shower and then add a few drops to the palm of your hand. Rub your hands together and then distribute through the ends and style as usual. Be careful to limit it to three drops at max, or it can leave a residue.
As the oil is rich in vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant, it also helps in the development of collagen, which not only boosts skin health, it can prevent your hair from splitting and breaking. It also protects the body from free radical damage, thereby eliminating external deterrents that can cause stress and imbalances, leading to hair loss.
9. Relieving the symptoms of respiratory conditions and asthma
Research has shown that extracts from the passion fruit contain a unique combination of bioflavonoids that offer sedative, expectorant and soothing effects on the respiratory system which has been linked to reducing asthma attacks, wheezing and the symptoms of the whooping cough. Try inhaling the aroma of maracuja oil the next time you or someone in your family develops a cough, and it’s likely to calm it down.
Make sure you buy 100% natural, cold pressed, undiluted oil like this one by Botanical Beauty available here on Amazon.