Okwuma (Shea Butter): Health Benefits, Types and Nutritional Value

Okwuma (Shea Butter)

Okwuma, also known as Shea Butter, is a natural fat extracted from the nuts of the African shea tree (Vitellaria paradoxa). It has been used for centuries in Africa for various purposes, including skincare, cooking, and traditional medicine. This creamy substance has gained worldwide attention for its numerous health and beauty benefits.

Shea butter, known as “Okwuma” among the Igbos of Nigeria, goes by different names in various Nigerian languages. In Hausa, it is referred to as “kadanya,” and in Yoruba, it is known as “ori.”

There are two types of Shea butter, refined and Unrefined Shea Butter. Shea butter is rich in vitamins A, E, and F, which have antioxidant properties. It contains important fatty acids such as oleic acid, stearic acid, and linoleic acid. These nutrients contribute to its moisturizing, anti-inflammatory, and healing properties.

In this article, we discuss the types and health benefits of Okwuma (Shea Butter) and also answer some related questions.

Types of Shea Butter (Okwuma)

  • Refined Shea Butter: Processed to remove the scent and color, making it more suitable for cosmetics.
  • Unrefined Shea Butter: Also known as raw or pure Shea Butter, it retains its natural color, scent, and nutrients.

10 Health Benefits of Shea Butter (Okwuma)

Okwuma (Shea Butter)

Below are the potential health benefits of Shea butter:

Very Good for Skin Moisturization

Shea butter is a superb natural moisturizer. Its high concentration of fatty acids and vitamins, particularly vitamin E, makes it effective in nourishing and hydrating the skin, preventing dryness, and promoting a healthy complexion.

Contains Anti-Aging Properties

Studies suggest that shea butter’s antioxidants can help combat the signs of aging by reducing the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines, and age spots. It encourages collagen production, keeping the skin supple and youthful.

May help Reduce Skin Inflammation

Shea butter contains anti-inflammatory compounds like lupeol cinnamate, which may provide relief from various skin conditions, including acne, eczema, and psoriasis.

Promote Protection Against Sun

While not a substitute for sunscreen, shea butter’s natural SPF properties offer some protection against harmful UV rays. It can be used as an additional layer of defense against sun damage.

Supports Scar and Stretch Mark Reduction

Shea butter’s moisturizing and regenerative properties may help reduce the visibility of scars and stretch marks over time, promoting a smoother skin texture.

Help Fasting Wound Healing

Research suggests that shea butter may enhance wound healing due to its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. It can soothe minor cuts, burns, and insect bites.

Supports Hair Care

using Shea Butter for Hair Care

Shea butter is commonly used to improve hair health. It moisturizes the scalp, reduces dandruff, and nourishes hair follicles, promoting stronger, shinier hair.

Rich in Anti-Fungal and Antibacterial Properties

Some studies indicate that shea butter has natural anti-fungal and antibacterial properties, making it effective against certain skin infections and irritations.

Supports Pain Relief

Topical application of shea butter may alleviate muscle soreness, joint pain, and arthritis discomfort due to its anti-inflammatory properties.

Promotes Lip Care

Shea butter is an excellent natural lip balm. It helps prevent chapped lips, keeping them soft and smooth, especially in dry or cold weather.

Can I use Shea butter Every Day?

Using shea butter in your daily skincare routine offers a multitude of health benefits while providing delightful self-care magic. Shea butter’s daily use helps your skin maintain optimal moisture levels, resulting in a soft and velvety texture. Moreover, it is rich in antioxidants and potent anti-inflammatory agents, which contribute to the overall suppleness and well-being of your skin, making it a daily practice that not only feels indulgent but also supports your skin’s health.

Can shea butter lighten the skin?

Shea butter is never a good choice for skin lightening. Shea butter is known for its moisturizing properties, not its lightening properties. Shea butter can help with reducing skin dryness, itching, but it can not offer help when it comes to skin lightening. If you are looking for lotion to help you lighten your skin, there are many products that can help you achieve such results.

For skin lightening, look for skin care products that contain Hydroquinone. Hydroquinone is a commonly used chemical compound in skincare products and cosmetics. The main reason for using this chemical is because of its skin-lightening properties and effectiveness at reducing the appearance of hyperpigmentation, dark spots, and uneven skin tone.

Can I take Shea butter by mouth?

According to many sources, taking shea butter by mouth is conceded to be safe practice. However, there are limited to no evidence to support this claim. So before using this product by mouth, it is very important to contact your doctor first. Shea butter is only made for skin use not internal use.


Shea Butter, known as “Okwuma” among the Igbos of Nigeria and by various names in different Nigerian languages, is a natural product with numerous health benefits. These benefits include moisturizing and nourishing the skin, reducing inflammation, promoting wound healing, protecting against UV radiation, and improving hair health. Shea Butter’s rich composition of vitamins, fatty acids, and antioxidants makes it a popular and valuable skincare and haircare product.


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