Shea butter
Shea butter

Background

Shea butter is a seed fat that comes from the shea tree. The shea tree is found in East and West tropical Africa. The shea butter comes from two oily kernels within the shea tree seed. After the kernel is removed from the seed, it is ground into a powder and boiled in water. The butter then rises to the top of the water and becomes solid.

People apply shea butter to the skin for acne, burns, dandruff, dry skin, eczema, and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses.

In foods, shea butter is used as a fat for cooking.

In manufacturing, shea butter is used in cosmetic products.
When taken by mouth: Shea butter is LIKELY SAFE when taken by mouth in amounts commonly found in foods. There isn't enough reliable information to know if taking shea butter by mouth in larger amounts as medicine is safe.

When applied to the skin: Shea butter is POSSIBLY SAFE when applied to the skin appropriately for up to 4 weeks. There isn't enough reliable information to know if applying shea butter to the skin for longer than 4 weeks is safe.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Shea butter is LIKELY SAFE when taken by mouth in amounts commonly found in foods. There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking shea butter in greater amounts if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Children: Shea butter is LIKELY SAFE when taken by mouth in amounts commonly found in foods. Shea butter is POSSIBLY SAFE when applied to the skin appropriately, short-term. About 2-4 grams of shea butter has been applied to the inside of the nose safely for up to 4 days.

Effectiveness

NatMed Pro rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.
Likely effective Effectiveness definitions
Possibly effective Effectiveness definitions
Likely ineffective Effectiveness definitions
Possibly ineffective Effectiveness definitions
Insufficient evidence Effectiveness definitions
  • Hay fever. Early research shows that applying shea butter to the inside of the nose as needed over 4 days clears the airways and improves breathing in adults and children who have congestion from hayfever. The airways appear to clear in as quickly as 30 seconds. Shea butter appears to improve congestion as effectively as certain nasal decongestant sprays.
  • Eczema (atopic dermatitis). Early research shows that applying shea butter to the skin, alone or with other ingredients, improves symptoms of eczema in children and adolescents.
  • Acne.
  • Burns.
  • Dandruff.
  • Dry skin.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Insect bite.
  • Itching.
  • Itchy skin infection caused by mites (scabies).
  • Muscle soreness.
  • Osteoarthritis.
  • Rash.
  • Scaly, itchy skin (psoriasis).
  • Scarring.
  • Skin ulcers.
  • Skin wrinkles from sun damage.
  • Stretch marks.
  • Swelling (inflammation) of the nasal cavity and sinuses (rhinosinusitis).
  • Wound healing.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate shea butter for these uses.

Dosing & administration

The appropriate dose of shea butter depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for shea butter (in children/in adults). Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

Interactions with pharmaceuticals

It is not known if this product interacts with any medicines.

Before taking this product, talk with your health professional if you take any medications.

Interactions with herbs & supplements

There are no known interactions with herbs and supplements.

Interactions with foods

There are no known interactions with foods.

Action

Shea butter works like an emollient. It might help soften or smooth dry skin. Shea butter also contains substances that can reduce skin swelling. This might help treat conditions associated with skin swelling such as eczema.
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This monograph was last reviewed on 23/10/2022 06:54:57 and last updated on 05/11/2020 01:37:23. Monographs are reviewed and/or updated multiple times per month and at least once per year.
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