“ Brand: Boots Care / Dosage Form: Oil „
In recent years there's been a good deal of emphasis on the benefits of eating almonds, whether in their raw state or liquidised into almond milk. It's good that the humble almond is being acknowledged as a super food but, in fact, this little nut has far more going for it than just as a dietary delight. When processed into oil, the almond proves itself to be incredibly versatile not only as a foodstuff but also for use as a health supplement, in aromatherapy and as a beauty aid and all for the cost of a few pennies.
Refined sweet almond oil is available from most pharmacies with a 50ml bottle costing anything from £1 upwards. Care+ sweet almond oil is available from Boots for £1.59. Cold pressed almond oil is sold in Sainsburys for £1.69 for a 100ml bottle.
There are two kinds of almond: bitter and sweet. The bitter almond is derived from the pink-blossomed wild almond and is the source of cyanide. Somewhere back in the mists of time, however, one of our clever prehistoric ancestors somewhere in the Middle East managed to find a non-poisonous variety of white-blossomed wild almond which was sweet rather than bitter and decided to domesticate it and that is the origin of all commercially produced edible nuts and oils. Even today much of the world supply of almond oil comes from Middle Eastern countries, although the USA is now the largest single producer.
As sweet almond oil has been around for a very long time its benefits have been well tried and tested over several millennia now. My own experiences with this wonder oil may only cover about half a century but that's certainly been long enough to discover that this is an invaluable product that I wouldn't be without.
It goes without saying that almond oil shouldn't be used by anyone with a nut allergy either inside or outside the body. It's a very pure oil so a reaction could be almost instantaneous!
It put the NUT in nutrition
Although I don't use almond oil very often as a foodstuff, it has several culinary benefits. It can be bought as a refined or a cold pressed oil and both are suitable for cooking. The cold pressed variety is more flavoursome and therefore more frequently used as a drizzle or dipping oil. The cold pressed oil is less stable under high temperatures though, so the refined oil is usually better for frying and baking where the lack of flavour is a positive benefit.
As with all nut oils there has to be a bit of a trade off between healthy nutritional values and calories. Like most nuts, the calorific value is high (one tablespoon of almond oil contains 120 calories) but the fats in this oil are very low in saturates and high in polyunsaturates and essential fatty acids so it's very good for your heart. It's also an excellent source of vitamins E and K.
Apart from the high calories, another reason for being sparing with the amount of this oil when cooking is the fact that too much of this can have a laxative effect!
Other health benefits....
..... Healthy body
Because sweet almond oil is fairly bland and has a very light and almost undetectable scent, it makes a great carrier oil for blending with more strongly scented essential oils for use in oil burners or as a massage oil in aromatherapy.
..... Healthy hair
I know everyone is raving about Argon oil these days but it's possible to get similar results by using almond oil. Regular massaging of the scalp using a few drops of almond oil will not only nourish the scalp and reduce dandruff but will smooth the hair cuticles giving improved shine whilst reducing frizz and flyaway hair. It's also claimed that regular scalp massages with almond oil reduces hair loss. Although I'm not in any danger of losing my hair, I do find that it's become quite dry and brittle as a result of a lifetime of using colourants but that is soon put to rights by a monthly application of almond oil. About a tablespoon of oil massaged into the scalp and left on the hair for about half an hour before shampooing produces a glossy and healthy head of hair.
The ultimate beauty aid
When it comes to improving the skin and defying those wrinkles almond oil truly comes into its own. It's more than proved its worth in the kitchen and as a health supplement but as a beauty aid it almost has magical properties.
I learned to use almond oil on my skin in my teens. My mother always used it to remove her make up and as a moisturiser and I've always done the same. Although I sometimes use shop bought creams and lotions, I nearly always return to almond oil because none of those commercially manufactured products ever give me results anywhere near as good.
A few drops of oil on a cotton wool ball will remove all traces of eye make-up, even heavily applied or waterproof make-up and not only that, it will nourish and moisturise the eye area, reduce dark circles and prevent wrinkling. It's claimed almond oil will help thicken eyelashes and make them grow longer but as mine have stubbornly remained short (except when enhanced by mascara), I think I'll discount that theory.
The perceived wisdom is that almond oil has anti-aging properties and that regular application reduces wrinkles and keeps skin looking younger and, again, I can only go by personal experience. I can't say with any degree of certainty whether it's as a result of using almond oil over the years, as it may just as well be due to good genes, but even my children (not known for flattering their mother) tell me that I don't look my age.
As any post-menopausal woman will agree, as we age our skin becomes very dry and very thirsty. Used as a moisturiser, this wonderful oil is second to none. To say that a little bit goes a long way is something of an understatement. About 4 or 5 drops applied to damp skin is more than enough to moisturise the face and neck area. Because it's such a pure oil, it's wonderful for soothing itchy, dry and flaky skin without irritating and the oil is absorbed into the skin very quickly without leaving any greasy film and produces skin which looks and feels thoroughly hydrated, supple and silky smooth. An added bonus is that there's no need for lip balms because not only does almond oil moisturise your face, it does the same for lips. Despite growing up in cold, wet and windy Lancashire and never ever using lip balm, I've never had chapped dry lips and I can only put that down to a lifetime of using almond oil.
A few drops of this oil applied after washing your hands produces far better results than any hand cream. Although it won't do anything about age spots, it certainly leaves hands hydrated and moisturised. I read recently that Britain's top hand model uses almond oil as a moisturiser, which is a recommendation in itself.
In a nutshell ....
Sweet almond oil may not be a universal panacea but it's not far off. It's good to eat as well as being great for the skin, hair and bodily wellbeing and above all, it's free from chemicals, parabens and all those other nasty substances found in commercially produced beauty aids. All you get is pure, unadulterated oil just as nature made it and for a fraction of the cost of all those creams and lotions.