Rare jungle nut becomes anti-aging rage
‘It’s going to be the new little wave’
For decades, if not centuries, the Amazon dwellers of southern Colombia didn’t make too much of the cacay nut. They fed it to their livestock, used it to treat wounds and chopped down its trees for firewood.
But then, a few years ago, the global jet-setting crowd found out what the yellow-ish oil from the protein-rich nut could do for their skin. And suddenly, the cacay (pronounced kahk-ai) has become a red-hot commodity, providing the key ingredient to anti-aging facial creams that can fetch $200 an ounce in beauty shops in Los Angeles and London.
While most of the nuts come from wild trees in remote areas, new plantations are popping up in impoverished parts of Colombia that were better known for cocaine and anti-government rebel groups. Vitaliano Ordonez, a farmer who used to give the nuts to his cows, sold eight of the animals to buy 120 saplings. Because only a few are mature enough to produce this year, he’s scavenging every kernel from two old trees on his small dairy farm in Puerto Rico, Colombia, 300 kilometers (190 miles) southeast of Bogota.
Oil of Cacay: Is This the New Argan Oil?
Is the Oil From A Tree from the Amazon, the Next Big Thing in Beauty?
An Amazing Amazon Oil?
Caryodendron orinocense seed oil is said to have anti-aging, skin nourishing and rejuvenating properties. Could it be even more beneficial to the skin than argan oil?
The Cacay, (botanical name – caryodendron orinocense Karst) is an Amazon tree that produces a highly nutritious nut (seed) from which the oil is extracted. It is a member of the Euphorbiaceae family, genus caryodendron and grows wild along the base of the Andes Mountains in Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru and Colombia and adjacent Amazonian lowlands. It is also known as Orinoco (in English), nuez, nuez de Barinas, or nogal de Barquisimeto in Venezuela and as inchi, taque, abay or palode nuez in Colombia and Ecuador, and various other names depending on the region.
The cacay fruit is a capsule containing three three-sided kernels. The kernels are removed from the outer shell (which resembles a walnut) and are eaten raw, roasted or fried. The roasted nut is said to have a flavor like hazelnuts. It is also ground up to make drinks and sweets. The mashed nuts and milk is fed to weaned babies.
The wood from the cacay tree is used for firewood and charcoal. In some areas the nut oil, bark and shells are used for light because they burn well. It is also grown on plantations to provide shade for coffee and cocoa crops in Ecuador and Colombia.
The nut is also a good source of edible oil that is rich in linoleic acid with a taste reminiscent to peanuts. In ancient times Amazonian villagers used the oil to treat skin irritations, burns and other injuries. Studies have shown that it does help with cicatrizing cuts and wounds. It was also used for soap making and as an emollient.
The «Vegetable Cow»
The tree has been studied for over 60 years for feasibility of industrialization due to the high protein carbohydrate and oil content. Thus far, Kahai SAS is the first and only company to industrialize the cacay for the production, manufacturing and marketing of cacay products.
In addition to being used for food, the meal can also be used to make supplements, nut milk and other beverages. The peel is used as cattle feed and as compost, and the shell for bio fuel. According to Kahai SAS, because of its many uses, the natives call it «The Vegetable Cow.»
The company’s mission is to establish the cacay crop as an alternative for sustainable development in Colombia. Because of the potential for sustainability and economic assistance to communities, it is being called the new argan oil. It could be a boon for the farming and cosmetics industry, as well as provide employment and earnings for the community.
Since the wood of the tree is collected for firewood, it has become harder to find in the wild. The company has a nursery and processing plant in Colombia in which to cultivate new trees and prevent further deforestation.
Once extracted, the oil can be safely stored for a long period of time without becoming rancid. Studies have also shown that it makes a good emollient and the presence of tocopherols gives it antioxidant and vitamin E activity and also makes the oil stable in cosmetics formulations.
It contains vitamin A (retinol – three times the amount found in rose hip oil), vitamin E (50% more than argan oil) and vitamin F (linoleic acid, an omega 6 essential fatty acid). It also has high levels of omega 3 and 6, all of which nourish, soften and repair damaged skin and hair. The high level of linoleic acid helps the oil quickly penetrate the skin, giving it a light and silky silicone-like and non-greasy feel.
For all skin types, including sensitive skin Emollient properties, providing long-lasting hydration Helps repair the hydrolipidic layer (acid mantle), protecting the skin against irritation and dehydration Improves texture, firmness and elasticity of skin Restores skin radiance Smooths and improves the visible appearance of wrinkles
Kahai SAS is marketing the oil, which is extracted by cold pressing the nuts, for cosmetics formulations as well as its own product Kahai™ Anti-Aging Dry Oil for the face, body and hair. Other products that contain the ingredient are certain Saavy Pure & Natural Products (based in California) and a skin care product being sold by a company in the UK, EGF Platinum 3 Restorative Facial Elixir, which supposedly helps accelerate cell renewal.
Whether all the benefits of caryondendron orinocense seed oil in skin and hair care products are real, only time will tell, but it sounds promising.