Apricots are a small stone fruit with a kernel (or seed) inside that's said to have great healing powers. Apricot oil comes from this seed and is used for skin applications and some processed foods. Some purchase apricot oil without fully realizing how it can be used.
Apricot oil has antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and health implications. Once you learn about the research, you may want to add the sweet oil to your skin care regimen and diet.
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Apricot oil shows promise as a treatment for psoriasis, gut problems and heart conditions. Use it topically or buy edible apricot oil for cooking.
About Apricot Oil
Apricot kernels look a lot like an almond. When the oil is extracted and processed, apricot oil is chemically similar to bitter almond oil. Cooks Info explains you can use it as a substitute for almond oil when cooking. It has a high smoke point, so it's appropriate for pan-frying and sautéing. The flavor is mild, so you won't notice its impact on the taste of your dishes.
Read more: Which Cooking Oil is Best?
Apricot oil is rich in oleic acid reports a study published in Antioxidants in March 2015. Oleic acid is an omega-9 fatty acid that's extremely good for you, boosting the health of your heart and your brain. It's the primary fatty acid that makes olive oil such a valuable part of a balanced diet, and it makes edible forms of apricot oil a healthy addition to your diet, too.
Apricot oil is also a component in skin products, including creams, scrubs and serums. You can find edible apricot oil and apricot oil for cosmetic use only. Cosmetic apricot oil is emollient and high in vitamin E; it absorbs easily into the skin and is appropriate for all skin types, including sensitive skin. Use it as a carrier oil for the application of more concentrated essential oils, such as lavender or peppermint.
Apricot Oil and Psoriasis
Psoriasis is a skin condition that appears as patches of reddened areas, sometimes covered by silvery scales or thickened excess tissue. The condition is chronic and without a long-term cure. Psoriasis happens when your immune system goes haywire and causes skin cells to grow too quickly. In the average person, skin is shed every few weeks to be replaced with new cells. With psoriasis, you produce new skin cells in just a few days, and they pile up — creating the patches of excess skin.
Psoriasis can itch and make you feel self-conscious. Patches can grow relatively large and flow together to cover large swaths of skin. Because psoriasis doesn't have a cure, any management or relief is welcome.
According to research published in the International Journal of Molecular Science in January 2018, psoriasis treatment may be listed as an apricot seed benefit. When applied topically, compounds in the oil can provide relief and soothe patches of psoriatic skin.
Additional research presented in the journal International Immunopharmacology published in May 2016 notes that psoriasis affects 2 percent of the world's population. Bitter apricot essential oil, when applied to HaCaT cells of the skin in a lab, was able to arrest their growth — making the oil a promising candidate to treat psoriasis.
Apricot Oil Is Antimicrobial
A paper published in Phytotherapy Research in December 2014 notes that apricot seed plays a role in traditional oriental medicine as a treatment for skin diseases, including acne and dandruff. It's also been used to help with conditions as varied as coughing, asthma and constipation.
In the paper, researchers tested the antimicrobial potential of apricot oil to see if it had any effect against invasive bacteria and yeasts. They concluded that apricot oil exhibits some degree of protection against bacteria and yeast by killing them or at least inhibiting their growth.
The International Journal of Essential Oil Therapeutics published research back in January 2010 reporting that apricot oil has antimicrobial impact against several bacteria including:
- E. coli
- Serratia marcescens
- Staphylococcus aureus
- Salmonella typhimurium
- Streptococcus pyogenes
The study concluded that apricot oil is most effective against Salmonella typhimurium.
Apricot Oil and Bowel Dysfunction
Research published in Research in Pharmaceutical Sciences in the July-August 2014 issue found that apricot oil may be a possible complementary medicine for inflammatory bowel disorders. The study was performed on rats, but found that apricot kernel extract both with and without the oil improved the unpleasant symptoms of colitis.
A Turkish study published in 2018 in Biotechnic and Histochemistry investigated the gastroprotective effect of apricot kernel oil on gastric ulcers, also in rats. The rats had ulcers created by the introduction of ethanol, and a group had both ethanol and apricot oil introduced.
The apricot oil actually protected the mucosa (or intestinal lining) of the rats from developing ulcers as compared to the rats given ethanol only. The researchers conclude this is due to apricot oil's anti-inflammatory and antioxidative effects. Apricot oil may actually be an effective way to reduce the severity of gastric ulcers.
Read more: Diet Plan for Ulcers
Heart Protection and Chemotherapy Relief
Older, established research published in Food and Chemical Toxicology in December 2011described the potential cardioprotective effects of apricot kernel oil. The study was performed on rats and showed that apricot oil may have the ability to stimulate certain beneficial reactions in the cardiovascular system to prevent myocardial infarction — otherwise known as heart attacks.
The analysis in the International Journal of Essential Oil Therapeutics explains the antioxidant value of apricot oil. The relatively high 2.2-milligram-per-milliliter phenolic component of the oil is comparable to olive oil and may have protective effects against heart disease.
Apricot oil may also be a powerful way to ease chemotherapy's negative effect on the immune system. A study published in the August 2016 issue of Lipids found that rats given cyclophosphamide who also had apricot oil experienced less organ degradation and more growth than those who just received the chemotherapy drug. The white blood cells of those rats who received the apricot oil also showed a healthier level of important immune compounds.
- International Journal of Molecular Sciences: "Anti-Inflammatory and Skin Barrier Repair Effects of Topical Application of Some Plant Oils"
- Phytotherapy Research: "Chemical Composition and Antimicrobial Activity of the Essential Oil of Apricot Seed"
- Research in Pharmaceutical Sciences: "Anti-Inflammatory Effect of Prunus armeniaca L. (Apricot) Extracts Ameliorates TNBS-Induced Ulcerative Colitis in Rats"
- Food and Chemical Toxicology: "Protective Effects of Apricot Kernel Oil on Myocardium Against Ischemia-reperfusion Injury in Rats"
- International Journal of Essential Oil Therapeutics: "Wild Apricot (Prunus armeniaca) Kernel Oil: A Strategic Alternative to Value Added Fatty Acids"
- Biotechnic and Histochemistry: "Gastroprotective Effect of Apricot Kernel Oil in Ethanol-Induced Gastric Mucosal Injury in Rats"
- International Immunopharmacology: "Bitter Apricot Essential Oil Induces Apoptosis of Human HaCaT Keratinocytes"
- Cooks Info: "Apricot Oil"
- American Academy of Dermatology: "What Is Psoriasis?"
- Lipids: "Apricot Kernel Oil Ameliorates Cyclophosphamide-Associated Immunosuppression in Rats"
- USDA National Nutrient Database: "Oil, Apricot Kernel"
- Antioxidants: "Oil Content, Fatty Acid Composition and Distributions of Vitamin-E-Active Compounds of Some Fruit Seed Oils"
- Mini Reviews in Medicinal Chemistry: "An Overview of the Modulatory Effects of Oleic Acid in Health and Disease"