What is Baobab?
Baobab is a species of the Adansonia Tree that is found in Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and Australia which has been used for centuries due to its medicinal properties. The plant has been used by various cultures for several hundred years, earning the nickname “the tree of life” due to its cultural relevance for these groups. The bark, leaves, and fruit from the tree all have different uses, but the plant has been used for cosmetic purposes, like skin and hair treatments, and more importantly to treat serious medical ailments, such as diabetes.
No matter what part of the world they are in, the Baobab trees have a reputation for long life (the oldest Baobab is thought to be close to 60,000 years old). They will likely appear odd looking for those used to North American trees, as they possess an unusually thick trunk topped by thin, spindly branches that cut off not far from where they branch out from the trunk. This makes them look similar to roots, Baobab trees also bear the nickname “the upside down tree,” as it appears as though it was stuck in the ground the wrong way.
For those about to take Baobab, you’ll find that it comes in a variety of forms – there are powders, juices, extracts, teas, and capsules. Regardless of which method you prefer (we will talk about which one is best in just a bit), expect a tart, and slightly sour taste. This distinctive feature of Baobab has made it a topic of intense love or hatred; people either love it and can’t get enough of it, or they can’t stand it.
Baobab Benefits and Uses
By far the most popular use of the Baobab is its cosmetic properties. Its bark and leaves are said to work wonders for those with rough, cracked skin. It boasts similar results for those with dry, damaged hair. These claims have been supported by several scientific studies in 2003 and 2014 which found that the Baobab possesses unique pharmacological properties which aid in the restoration of skin and hair for cosmetic purposes. Delivery methods for this treatment vary slightly, but by far the most common is when extracts of the plant are added into shampoos or facial creams.
The Baobab is not only for treating cosmetic deficiencies. For people suffering from type 1 and type 2 diabetes, the fruit of the Baobab tree has also proven to have genuine medicinal effects. The Baobab helps to reduce and monitor the digestion of starches in the body, which are harmful to diabetics, as they directly relate to the patients glycemic response. Because they regulate the digestion of these starches, diabetic patients can also use the baobab to regulate their sugar levels in the body. Again, studies conducted in 2008 and 2013 both concluded that the fruit and bark of the baobab can have positive effects in treating the symptoms of diabetes.
Baobab contains large amounts of absorbic acid, it has also been used for the last decade as a weight loss supplement. The acid is thought to burn excess fat at a rate much faster than your normal metabolic rate, thus aiding the body in shedding some of those unwanted pounds. Baobab can also be used to suppress your appetite. A 2017 study confirmed it has “positive implications” on reducing hunger. Although there has been little information provided on this benefit by scientific sources, holistic nutritionists swear by it’s fat-burning properties, declaring it as the superfood of the decade.
Baobab has yet to be universally recognized for it’s Antioxidant power. It’s high on the ORAC Value chart, which measures Antioxidant levels. However; its hard to say where exactly it stacks up against other antioxidants. The Baobab Fruit has 10.8 mmol/100g but the leaves crushed and dried has an astonishing 48.1 mmol/100g. In comparison Oranges have a 0.9mmol/100g and Bilberries have a 48.3 mmol/100g (which is thought to be one of the higher ORAC values, behind berries like Maqui Berry.) Baobab having high Antioxidant is a bonus in addition to its other benefits. If you are looking for an antioxidant supplement with a high ORAC value I’d suggest something like Maqui Berry.
Its been nicknamed “The Vitamin Tree” by various publications, and with good reason. Baobab is full of Vitamins. It has more Vitamin C than an Orange, more Calcium than Milk, tons of Vitamin B and various other vitamins such as polyphenols, potassium, iron, magnesium and phosphorous.
One of the traits that make the Baobab most appealing to the younger generation is its effect on the liver. Baobab juice and tea is in high demand because of its positive effects promoting liver health. It’s said to combat the effects of short-term and long-term alcoholism. While this is a benefit to anyone (drinker or otherwise) who has had too many over the years, it is especially beneficial for the younger generation that faces an increasingly larger problem with binge-drinking. A quick note: this editorial does not support the idea of using baobab as a sole means of treating the effects of alcoholism. Be smart about your situation – if you think it’s serious, go see a doctor.
Prebiotics are plants or fruit fibers that nourish the beneficial bacteria that already exists in the bowls or colon. Prebiotics are basically fertilizers. In one study Baobab Fruit Pulp showed it promoted growth of the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus. In South Africa a prebiotic has been developed from Baobab fruit palp, and it is widely consumed.
Baobab Oil is being recommended by some to treat Acne. Some of the bigger companies are even adding it to hair products. There has been zero studies on this, and there is little anecdotal evidence to suggest it has positive effects on Acne. That doesn’t mean there aren’t any benefits for Acne but at this point it can’t be recommended for that purpose.
Baobab may have benefits when it comes to treating split and dry hair. However; when it comes to hair growth, there is no evidence to suggest it does anything.
Scars and Stretch Marks
Baobab has been theorized to treat scars and stretch marks. There is very little, if any evidence to support this. However; it almost certainly wont make things worse. If you’ve exhausted all other options, it might be worth a try.
Baobab Fruit Juice vs Baobab Powder
Two of the most common forms of consumption of the Baobab are via powder or juice. The powder has significantly more uses; it is by far the most popular form of ingestion. Baobab powder can be used in smoothies, oatmeal, or even mixed into flour to make things like pancakes. In addition, the powder has an extremely low carb content, making it perfect for those on a low-carb or ketogenic diet. The powder can be purchased online for fairly cheap (around $20) and each canister will last an individual for close to a month if you follow suggested serving of 20g per day on the box.
Another popular method is drinking Baobab juice, which can be either created or purchased. The juice comes from the fruit of the Baobab tree. Baobab juice has pleasant smell and taste. If you want to make your own juice, Baobab has little water content, which means that the fruit keeps for a very long time. Most people keep the fruit on hand, and make the juice in small increments.
The truth is that there is very little difference between the two. There is no significant difference in the dosage between these two methods, either. The main difference is diversity – the juice can only be used for one or two purposes, whereas the powder can be used for all those purposes, and more.
An important thing to note is that the Baobab is really only a fruit – you can’t necessarily eat or take too much Baobab much in the same way that you can’t eat too many strawberries. A much more correct way of describing the Baobab is that there is a correct serving size rather than a dosage. That being said, most individuals will want to stick with somewhere between 6-12 grams of baobab a day, which is more than enough to enjoy each of these varieties.
Powder: As mentioned before, powder is going to be by far the most popular form of consumption for most individuals. The general consensus is that anywhere from 6-20 grams daily of the powder is sufficient.
Extract: Extracts are different from every other consumption method. You actually need to be diligent when taking any extract because the product is much more potent. Again, it’s going to be hard to take too much Baobab but the only way its realistically possible is with an extract. I cant recommend a specific amount of an extract as each individual product is extracted to different ratios. You must read the manufacturers label.
Oil or Cream: There really isn’t a “dosage” for creams or oils but you might cause skin irritations if you for some reason or another use exceedingly too much.
Tea: The bark and leaves of the Baobab are also made into specialty teas. There are a couple great Baobab teas out there my favorite are the ones that are mixed with organic peppermint and spearmint. The tea isn’t particularly potent, with each individual bag containing about 1.4g. This means you can have a lot of Tea every day. However; most of them don’t contain enough Baobab to treat ailments.
Juice: Different juices are going to have different contents and varying amounts that the individual needs to be aware of, but the most popular for sale is the organic certified Baobab juice, which instructs individuals to take anywhere from 1-3 fluid ounces daily on an empty stomach. Although there are several ingredients to the juice, the small serving size suggests that the Baobab is particularly active in the juice. The problem I have with juices is they are usually loaded with extra sugar to make them appealing to main stream consumers.
Baobab Side Effects, Dangers and Warnings
As mentioned before, it’s not really possible to overdose on Baobab, since it’s not really a drug. In fact, it is safe to say that there are no significant side effects of the plant as a general rule. The most common side effect of the plant is that excess amounts can cause stomach pains, but this is honestly barely a concern, as stomach pains will occur when anything is ingested in excess. There has been some concern expressed as to the safety of pregnant women who ingest the plant, but even this has not been properly tested in a scientific environment. Nonetheless, it is probably a good idea for pregnant women to play it safe and not consume the plant while pregnant.
What is the Best Baobab Fruit to Buy?
Baobab is actually quite difficult to figure out which one to buy. I’d put them in two categories skin & hair, and overall use.
If you want benefits that help skin and hair issues, I’d recommend a Baobab oil. They aren’t mixed with different chemicals and will work if rubbed into skin or hair. The conditioners and shampoos are worse for you due to all their additives. This is our recommended Baobab Oil.
If you want overall benefits for things like weight loss, diabetes, antioxidants, or a vitamin boost, I’d suggest an Organic Baobab Powder. This is our suggested Baobab Powder.