Camellia oil is considered to be the 'olive oil of Asia.' Camellias grow in East Asia and China and the oil has been used in their cultures for centuries in many ways. The rest of the world is now catching up and learning about what was once considered an Asian treasure. There are many benefits to using camellia oil in your diet, as well as for skin care and hair care.
In China, camellia oil is commonly used as a cooking oil and sometimes used in salad dressings and marinades and in stir-fry cooking. It is also used as a tool treatment to prevent corrosion in woodworking tools and to keep the tools lubricated. Another common use for camellia oil is in cosmetics--lip gloss, moisturizers, foundations and soaps.
Supplements of camellia oil, according to the Biosafety Research Center for Foods, Drugs and Pesticides in Japan, inhibited lung metastasis of melanomas (skin cancers), and patients have been encouraged to use the supplement. Another study at the National Chung Hsing University advocates camellia oleifera as an antioxidant. Traditionally the health benefits of camellia oil or tea seed oil are said to be helpful for people who suffer from ulcers, heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux. The oil has also been used on skin wounds to aid in healing and staving off infection.
When used for cooking or in food, the oil has been praised for its very low levels of saturated fats and no transfats. It also contains high levels of omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids, which are essential to the body.
Skin Care Benefits
Camellia oil can be used as an emollient for dry skin and may even help with acne. It is a light, easily absorbed oil that can be used as a moisturizer for dry, rough spots. The oil is said to help prevent and smooth wrinkles and stretch marks and heal scars. It is also used to strengthen and promote healthy growth of fingernails by massaging the oil into the nail.
Hair Care Benefits
Supposedly geishas soaked their wooden combs in the oil overnight to help nourish the scalp and hair. You can buy camellia oil hair products with the oil as the main ingredient or you can use the pure oil as a hot oil treatment or a pomade. You can purchase pure camellia oil online or at many health food stores.
Camellia oleifera may be confused with Camellia sinensis, from which green tea is derived. They are similar but from different families of camellia. Camellia oleifer is the seed used for camellia oil. A combination of sinensis and oleifer is used at times in different products.
Camellia oil is referred to as tea seed oil, which causes confusion with tea tree oil, which is from the leaves of Melaleuca alternifolia, a plant native to Australia that is not edible like camellia oil.