Watermelon Seed Oil

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Watermelon seed oil is a highly nutritious oil obtained from Watermelon seeds. This seed oil has been extracted using traditional methods in West Africa where it is still used as a cosmetic ingredient. Watermelon seed oil is light and a nice skin moisturizer. As a result, it is used in many skin care products. It is not clear whether it is suitable for edible use, however one can make many uses of this oil in home made beauty products.

Source

The source of watermelon seed oil is the watermelon seed. The watermelons generally used for oil extraction is Citrullus lanatus. This is the common watermelon that we savor in summers. Another variety used for extracting oil is the Citrullus vulgaris. There is also a wild variety of watermelon, called Citrullus colocynthis but this is less used. Watermelons are native to Africa and it is here that the local people have devised many uses for its seed oil. The seed are thick and come in many shades of color but are generally black. They are a powerhouse of nutrition with high concentration of dietary minerals. Some of these nutrients pass into watermelon seed oil.

Watermelon Seed Oil
Watermelon Seed Oil (Image:Shutterstock)

Extraction

To obtain oil, watermelon seeds are sun dried. This lowers the water content in them. Then the seeds are pressed for extracting fine, yellow colored oil. There are many ways in which this oil is extracted.

  • Cold pressed method
  • Solvent extraction using hexane as solvent.
  • Supercritical carbon dioxide extraction.

Among these, cold pressed oil is the healthiest as it does not contain any artificial ingredient. It is pure, natural and organic watermelon seed oil.

Other Names

Watermelon seed oil is well known by other names like Kalahari oil and Ootanga oil. These are African names for this seed oil.

Blends Well With

Watermelon seed oil blends well with other nutty oils because of its slightly nutty flavor. It is light, very stable and is used as a carrier oil for any essential oil during aromatherapy massage.

Properties

These are the therapeutic healing properties of Watermelon seed oil.

  • Emollient – It is a wonderful moisturizer for both oily and dry skin.
  • Antioxidant – Watermelon seed oil does not go rancid even after years. This gives a glimpse of its superb antioxidant capacity.
  • Anti-aging – Application of this oil on skin brings in anti-aging action. It provides direct nutrition to skin and prevents it from free radicals.
  • Detoxifying Agent – It is used in detoxifying massage formulations.
  • Anti-inflammatory – It reduces inflammation on the skin.
  • Antihelminthic – It is used to drive out worms out of the intestine.
  • Diuretic – It assists the bod in releasing more urine from the body, thus eliminating more toxins.

Color and Aroma

Watermelon seed oil is pale yellow in color. It is a slight aroma which is nutty. This oil has been used for cooking by native people of Kalahari desert, although it is not used for cooking nowadays in most places.

Health Benefits

Watermelon seed oil offers many health benefits both topically and internally.

As a Carrier Oil

Watermelon seed oil forms a nice carrier oil for massage. It is light and absorbs quickly into the skin. It is often used to dilute thicker carrier oils in massages that require the oil combination to be thin. It is a nice carrier for essential oils. Watermelon seed oil is also applied singly as massage oil. It can be used for baby massage, besides other oils for infant massage like olive oil.

Watermelon seed oil for Skin

Watermelon seed oil is good for oily skin. It reduces skin oil ( sebum ) on the skin by dissolving it away. As a result, the skin is much less oily after application with watermelon seed oil and washing it. This fact is helpful for skin conditions that are aggravated by excessive oil production like acne. It prevents clogging of hair follicles and thus prevents conditions like folliculitis.

Watermelon seed oil is also helpful for people with dry, irritated skin in conditions like eczema and psoriasis. One can directly apply this oil on the skin as it is gentle and generally safe.

Watermelon seed oil for Hair

Watermelon seed oil forms a nice smelling ingredient in hair care formulations. When applied directly to the scalp and then washed out, it reduces oiliness on the scalp and hair. This reduces excessive glossy look of the hair. Watermelon seed oil reduces frizz in hair and provides it nutrition. It can be used as a hot oil treatment on the hair to achieve smooth, shiny but much less greasy hair.

Anti-Aging effects

Watermelon seed oil is a powerful antioxidant. What this implies is that when applied topically on the skin, it provides antioxidants to the skin cells. When the cells have these nutrients, they are better able to deal with free radicals and oxidizing agents in the environment. Free radical induced damage is a major cause of accelerated aging, along with UV radiation induced damage. Gently massaging watermelon seed oil onto the skin once a day and letting it absorb into the skin provides the skin with nutrients from the oil. This improves the ability of our skin to neutralize free radicals before they damage the matrix of collagen.

Detoxifying Agent

Watermelon seed oil aids the body in expelling toxins. A massage performed using warm watermelon seed oil helps the oil to take away dirt and environmental toxins deposited on the skin. It is a powerful skin cleanser and detoxifier. Our skin is the largest organ in our body and its performs a considerable detoxification through sweat pores.

Diuretic Action

Massage the lower abdomen and middle back region using warm watermelon seed oil. It helps to tone the urinary system and increase urine output. This is helpful in many urinary conditions in which urination is infrequent and scanty. It also prevents kidney stones as urine output is considerable.

Vitamin E benefits

Watermelon seed oil contains significant amount of Vitamin E. When applied topically or when ingested, vitamin E gets absorbed into our system. This vitamin improves the functioning of our immune system and also acts as a powerful antioxidant. Inside the body, it prevents polyunsaturated fatty acids from undergoing oxidation. It protects our lipids as well as the nervous system.

Other Possible Health Benefits

Watermelon seed oil may have many more health benefits that have not been proven till now.Its high concentration of unsaturated fats makes it good for the heart and cardiovascular system.

Anti-Inflammatory

In a study, it was found that watermelon seed oil ( Citrullus lanatus ) exhibits anti-inflammatory activity in-vitro against edema in rats. [1]

Protects the Liver

Watermelon seed oil is a hepatoprotective. In one study, watermelon seed oil lead to reduction in blood ALT and AST levels. These levels are markers of damage to the liver, and if they are lower, then it indicates that the liver has regained health. Therefore, watermelon seed oil may be used as a remedy to lower liver damage induced by toxic substances. [1]

Uses

Watermelon seed oil is presently used in a few applications in cosmetic industry. However, as more of its properties come to light, it might be used for other purposes as well.

  • Cooking – Crude watermelon seed oil is still used for cooking purposes in Africa.
  • Cosmetic products – Watermelon seed oil is used as an ingredient in many topical application products for skin and hair. It is used to make products for babies, like massage oils. It is used in moisturizers, creams, salves, lotions and under eye creams.
  • Soaps – Watermelon seed oil is used as a base for soaps.
  • Foaming products – It is also used as a foaming agent for many products.

Side Effects, Safe Dosage and Toxicity Issues

There is not much information on the side effects of watermelon seed oil. The most important thing to note is that the watermelon seed oil is pure and organic. It should be obtained through cold pressed technique without heating the seeds at all. Heat changes the composition of fatty acids and other nutrients in the seeds which reflects in the oils. Watermelons contain nutrients which lead to production of nitric oxide (NO) in the body. This compound is a powerful vasodilator. These nutrients may be present in seed oil as well. Regular consumption of large amounts of watermelon seed oil may cause more vasodilation than is good for the health.

Nutritional and Medicinal Information

Let us look at the nutrition facts of watermelon seed oil. Although it is presently not used as an edible oil, it is still used for cooking in many parts of Africa. This can give us some clues as to its health benefits when taken internally. The most important part of nutrition of an edible oil is its fatty acid composition.

Fatty acid profile of Watermelon Seed Oil

Nutrient Percentage Property
Myristic Acid 0.11 Saturated fat
Stearic Acid (18:0) 10.2 % Saturated fat
Palmitic Acid (16:0) 11.3 % Saturated fat
Palmitoleic Acid (16:1) 0.29 % MUFA
Oleic Acid (18:1) 18.1 % MUFA
Linoleic Acid (18:2) 55.6 % PUFA
Alpha Linolenic Acid(18:3) 0.35 % PUFA
Erucic Acid (22:1) MUFA
Gondoic Acid (20:1) MUFA
Behenic Acid (22:0) Saturated fat
Arachidic Acid (20:0) Saturated fat

Source : 2

100 gm of watermelon seed oil contains only a minor fraction in terms of saturated fats. This is the breakdown.

  • Saturated Fats – 21.7 gm
  • MUFA ( monounsaturated fatty acid ) – 18.4 gm
  • PUFA ( polyunsaturated fatty acid )  – 60 gm

This fatty acid breakdown shows that watermelon seed oil is mostly comprised of polyunsaturated fatty acids. Besides fatty acids, watermelon seed oil also contains sterols, diglycerides, monoglycerides and phospholipids.

Vitamins and Minerals in Watermelon Seed Oil

Watermelon seed oil is rich in Vitamin A ( carotenoids ), Vitamin E and B vitamins. It is also rich in minerals that are generally found in watermelon seed flour, like magnesium, iron, copper, phosphorus, potassium and manganese.

Chemical properties

Besides the nutrients, an oil has some more chemical properties of value. Of these, the most important is antioxidant capacity. However, at present the antioxidant capacity of watermelon seed oil has not been evaluated. Watermelon oil’s comedogenicity is not known with certainty, but it should be low as the oil has sebum clearing effect.

Property Percentage Property
Specific Gravity 0.85 great for massage oil
Storage temperature Room Temperature Ideal temperature for storage
Comedogenicity Pore clogging potential ( 0 – 5 )
ORAC Antioxidant Power
Peroxide value 10 Measure of Acidity
Anisidine value Measure of Initial Rancidity
Saponification Value 183.13 Measure of the average carbon chain length
Iodine Value 121.51 Measure of unsaturation of oil
Free Fatty Acids 6.40 % Percentage of volatile oils

Source : 3

Buying and Storage

Make sure to buy high quality watermelon seed oil. It is important to note that the oil can be organic, even if it has been extracted with solvents. But, that oil does not remain a virgin oil. Storage of watermelon seed oil is least troublesome, as the oil doesn’t turn rancid easily. It has a long shelf life.

References

  1. Medicinal Values on Citrullus lanatus (Watermelon): Pharmacological Review. Erhirhie et.al.
  2. Characterisation and composition of different seed oils and flours. Tarek A. El-Adawy et. al.Food Chemistry 74 (2001)
  3. Extraction And Determination Of PhysicoChemical Properties Of Watermelon Seed Oil (Citrullus Lanatus L) For Relevant Uses. Duduyemi et.al.

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