CORN or MAIZE (cornsilk, corn oil) (Zea mays)
Botany: Coarse erect annual with prop roots near the ground and long sword-shaped leaves, one at each node. The plant belongs to genus Zea of Poaceae family. It grows up to 4 m high and is generally thought to be a native of tropical America, where it is said to have been cultivated for 7000 years before Christopher Columbus took it to Spain. Parts used are the long styles and stigmata of the pistils called corn silk and corn oil (maize oil) extracted from the germ of corn (maize).
History and/or Folklore: Indians living in what is now Mexico about 10,000 years ago, first used corn gathered from wild plants as a food source. Near 5000 BC, they learned how to grow corn and its use as an herbal medicine is almost as old. Corn is grown as source of food and food products for people, livestock feed, in herbal medicine, in cosmetics, and industrial products including ceramics, explosives, construction materials, metal moulds, paints, paper goods, textiles, industrial alcohols, and ethanol.
(1) Cornsilk: normally used are the dried long styles and stigmata of the pistils.
(2) Corn oil: It is obtained with expeller pressing (also called oil pressing) of the germ of corn, then the solvent is evaporated from the corn oil, recovered, and re-used. After extraction, the corn oil is then refined by degumming and/or alkali treatment. Final steps in refining include winterization (the removal of waxes), and deodorization by steam distillation of the oil under a high vacuum.
Traditional use: externally the fresh (or the soaked dried) cornsilk can be applied as a poultice (also called cataplasm; a soft moist mass). It is good for drawing the pus from boils and old or infected wounds.
Cornsilk contains vitamins C and K. It also contains cryptoxanthin, which acts like vitamin A. These vitamins are good for skin nutrition; vitamins C and A are antioxidants (protect DNA from free radicals, inhibit angiogenesis, proliferation and cell apoptosis), vitamin K mostly affects blood coagulation (reduces post-operative bruising in cosmetic surgery or injections, in broken capillaries (net veins), in the treatment of Rosacea, to help reduce dark under-eye circles). Cornsilk also contains β-sitosterol (a plant sterol; like its synthetic analogues hydrocortisone and corticosterone, it has powerful properties including the reduction in skin redness, inflammation and reduction of pruritis). It also contains tannins, which act as drying agents.
Corn oil is also known as a maize oil, maydol, or mazola. The crude oil may contain up to 2% phospholipids (vegetable lecithin, inositol esters). It is used as a hair dressing.
Corn oil also contains estrone (phytohormone); the effects have been shown to include protection of the skin, the reduction of wrinkles, reduction in inflammation and a decrease in pruritis.
Medications for inflammation (Corticosteroids) can interact with corn silk. Some medications for inflammation can decrease potassium in the body. Corn silk might also decrease potassium in the body, so that taking corn silk together with some medications for inflammation might decrease potassium in the body too much.
CORNFLOWER/CENTAURY (Centaurea cyanus)
Botany: Cornflower is a small annual flowering plant in the family Asteraceae, native to Europe, where it often grew as a weed in crop fields. It grows to 30–90 cm tall, with grey-green branched stems. The leaves are lanceolate, 1–4 cm long. The flowers are most commonly an intense blue colour, produced in flower heads (capitula) 1.5–3 cm diameter, with a ring of a few large, spreading ray florets surrounding a central cluster of disc florets. It blooms in summer. The flowers are then ripped and dried in the shade. The blue pigment is protocyanin. Several cultivars have been selected with varying pastel colours, including pink and purple.
It is now endangered in its native habitat. It is, however, through introduction as an ornamental plant in gardens and a seed contaminant in crop seeds, now naturalised in many other parts of the world, including North America and parts of Australia.
History and/or Folklore: Cornflower has been known since the ancient Greeks. Their harvest goddess Ceres stuck cornflower in her hair. In the past, the flowers were used to extract ink to dye fabrics. Cornflower has always been a prized plant for the eyes. It was said to be a remedy for weak eyes and it claimed to improve the eyesight (Eau de Casselunette appeared in the Parisian Codex many years ago). A decoction has also been used as a mouthwash in mild cases of inflammation of the gums.
For irritation of the eyelid and mild cases of conjunctivitis, cornflower is given in the form of a compress. It also can be used against a scab on the scalp and dandruff. Powder prepared from the dried flowers sprinkled on a wound is believed to heal them faster and without festering.
Cornflower has an astringent effect and a skin conditioning effect and has therefore refreshing and softening effects. It can be used daily for cleaning and toning skin, particularly sensitive areas around eyes to reduce puffiness and swelling around the eyes.
In foods, cornflower is used in herbal teas to provide colour.
Cornflower seems to be safe when used to colour herbal teas.
Cornflower as food supplement may cause an allergic reaction in people who are sensitive to the Asteraceae/Compositae plant family. Members of this family include ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, daisies, and many others.
CARROT OILS (Daucus carota)
Names: Carrot oil, oil of carrot, wild carrot oil
Botany: Daucus carota (common names include wild carrot, bird's nest, bishop's lace, and Queen Anne's lace) is an annual or biennial herb with erect, much branched stem, up to about 1.5 m high. The common cultivated carrot has an edible, fleshy, orange-red taproot, while the wild carrot or Queen Anne’s lace, has an inedible, tough whitish root. Wild carrot is native to Europe, Asia and North America.
The part used is the dried fruit, from which carrot seed oil is obtained, and the root from which carrot root oil is obtained.
Biochemistry: Carrot root oil contains high concentrations of carotenes (α, β, etc.).
Carrot seed oil contains α-pinene, β-pinene, carotol, daucol, limonene, β-bisabolene, β elemene, cis-β-bergamotene, geraniol, geranyl acetate, caryophyllene, caryophyllene oxide, asarone, α-terpineol, terpinen-4-ol, γ-decanol acetate, coumarin and β-selinene, palmitic acid, butyric acid, and others.
Daucus carota sativa botanical extract.
Daucus carota essential oil (Carrot seed oil) is obtained by steam distillation of the dried fruit: It is an essential oil with significant antioxidant, antiseptic and fragrant properties with high levels of vitamin A.
Daucus carota fixed oil (Carrot root oil) is obtained by solvent extraction of red carrot (root).
Daucus carota sativa botanical extract
Traditional use: The grated root was applied to bad wounds, old sores, swellings, tumours, and is soothing. Carrot juice is a remedy for styes in eyelids, and twitching eyes.
Daucus carota essential oil (Carrot seed oil)
Carrot seed oil is used primarily as a fragrance component in soaps, detergents, creams, lotions and perfumes. Yellow in colour, carrot seed oil carries scent notes of wood and earth. The highest concentration level reported is 0.4% in perfumes. It is vitamin rich (β-carotene and provitamin A) and is moisturizing. It is all-purpose skin reliever that helps wrinkles, rashes, dry skin and swelling. That is why preparations containing carrot oil are also suited to the care of aging skin with its tendency to cornification (and incipient wrinkling). In the case of dry and scaly skin, carrot oil stimulates the production of sebum, but not to excess. The skin become soft and supple as a result. When applied topically to the skin in the form of a diluted carrier oil, carrot seed oil provides natural sun protection. According to a study published in "Pharmacognosy Magazine" in 2009, products containing carrot seed oil have a natural SPF of 38 to 40.
Daucus carota fixed oil (Carrot root oil)
Carrot root carrier oil acts as a moisturizing base for dry skin in face and body products. Like carrot seed essential oil, the carrier oil contains provitamin A and β-carotene. It is used in certain sunscreen preparations. It is a natural colour and skin nutrient. It accelerates the formation of tissue and contributes to a flawless skin epithelium. Carrot oil clears the complexion, as it gradually dissolves the hardened (cornified) cores of blackheads. Because of its deep red colour and heavy scent, it is necessary to blend this carrier oil with milder products like olive or sunflower oil when using it for skin care and massage oil.
Data indicate carrot seed oil to be non-toxic. However, the chloroform/methanol fraction and petroleum ether extracts of the seeds have shown anti-fertility activity in female rats.
CASTOR OIL (Ricinus communis)
Names: Ricinus communis seed oil, castor seed oil; Ricinus communis oil, castor oil; vegetable oil; aromatic castor oil.
Botany: The castor oil plant is an annual herb that grows up to 5 m high in temperate zones and a perennial shrub or tree up to 15 m high in warmer climates. It is generally believed to be a native of Africa or India and is extensively cultivated worldwide.
The parts used are the ripe seeds.
History and/or folklore: In traditional medicine, castor oil has been used for centuries in India, Egypt and China as a cathartic, and externally for sores and abscesses, amongst others. Uses include bone deformities, limb paralysis, bedsores, bronchial catarrh, flatulence in children, mastitis during breastfeeding, tinea or seborrhoea of the scalp, scabies, warts, ulcerated feet, scalds, burns, eczema, conjuctivitis, sties, and reddening and irritation of the eyes. The oil has also been instilled into the ear to treat otitis and earache.
Biochemistry: Castor oil contains fatty acid glycerides of linoleic, oleic, dihydrostearic, and stearic acids, with ricinoleic acid comprising 80-90% of the total fatty acid glyceride content. Ricinoleic acid is hydroxyl acid, and as a result of hydrogen bonding of its hydroxyl groups, castor oil has a characteristically high viscosity.
Castor bean (seed) contains a highly poisonous protein (ricin), which remains in the seed cake (pomace) after the expression of castor oil. Ricin is reported to contain 18 different amino acids and to have a molecular weight of 53,000-54,000. Steam or moist cooking of the pomace destroy the ricin. The seed also contains ricinine (an alkaloid), lecitins, and a very powerful heat-stable allergen.
Products: Ricinus communis fixed oil (castor oil) is extracted from the seeds of Ricinus communis. Cold pressing yields a colourless to pale oil while hot pressing and solvent extraction yield darker grades of oil, which are of lower quality. Castor oil is very stable and does not easily turn rancid
Fragrance Ingredient; Skin-Conditioning Agent - Occlusive; emollient; masking; moisturising; skin conditioning; smoothing; solvent.
Ricinus communis fixed oil is a very glossy oil on the skin. It is used as an ingredient in lipstick, lip balms, lip salves, hair-grooming products, ointments, creams, lotions, transparent soaps, suppository bases, and others. It also cleans and softens the hair and is used as a hair wash for dandruff, to prevent falling hair and to grow new hair (where follicles are not totally withered). It has emollient properties on the skin and is soothing to the eyes. The oil is an effective rub for inflamed skin and bruises, and is used externally for ringworm, itches, piles, sores, and abscesses.
Castor oil facilitates the absorption of oil soluble anthelmintics and should not be used with them.
Castor seed is extremely toxic due to its content of ricin. The allergen present in the seeds can cause eye irritation, skin rashes, etc. However, ricin is not present in castor oil.
CINNAMON (Cinnamomum verum (Cinnamomum zeylanicum))
Botany: Cinnamon (C. verum) is a medium-size evergreen tree that grows to about 10-20 m high. The bark is thin, smooth, and pinkish-brown, the leaves opposite, elliptic or oval to lanceolate-oval. Flowers are pale yellowish-green. All species are native to Southeast Asia.
Parts used are the dried bark, leaves and twigs.
Biochemistry: Cinnamon bark oil contains as its major component cinnamaldehyde (usually 60-75%). It contains also eugenol, eugenol acetate, cinnamyl alcohol, methyl eugenol, benzaldehyde, cuminaldehyde, benzyl benzoate, linalool, monoterpene hydrocarbons, carophyllene, safrole, and others.
Cinnamon leaf oil contains high concentrations of eugenol (Ceylon type 80-88%; Seychelles type 87-96%). It also contains cinnamaldehyde, cinnamyl acetate, eugenol acetate, benzaldehyde, and others. A cinnamon leaf oil of Chinese origin is reported to contain only about 3% eugenol but has a high content of safrole.
Products: Cinnamon bark oil is steam distilled from inner bark of certain species of cinnamon tree.
Cinnamon leaf essential oil (Cinnamomum zeylanicum essential oil, Cassia oil) is obtained by steam distillation of leaves and twigs of certain species of cinnamon tree.
Cassia, cinnamon, and their bark oils have been used either as flavours or tonic or counter-irritants in cosmetic preparations, including liniments, suntan lotions, nasal sprays, mouthwashes or gargles and toothpaste, among others.
Cinnamomum zeylanicum essential oil
Cinnamon bark oil is mostly used for fragrance and flavouring. The refreshing and cooling quality of the bark is due to the presence of methyl amyl ketone. Cinnamon oil (presumably bark oil) has anti-fungal, anti-viral, bactericidal and larvicidal properties.
Ceylon cinnamon leaf oil is used as a fragrance component in soaps, detergents, creams, lotions and perfumes.
Cinnamomum zeylanicum oil essential is not to be used in aromatherapy, as it may be harmful on the skin.
Allergic reactions to C. verum are common.
Cinnamaldehyde can cause dermatitis in humans and allergic reactions have occurred from contact with products containing either cinnamaldehyde or cinnamon oil. Cinnamon may cause allergic reactions in some people who are allergic to balsam of Peru. Cassia oil causes mucous membrane and dermal irritation, both effects being attributed to cinnamaldehyde.
An alcoholic extract of cinnamon, cinnamon oil and cassia oil have shown in vitro mutagenic activity. However, a recent test of the essential of C. cassia found no mutagenic activity in the Ames test.
Not assessed for safety in cosmetics by the industry panel.
COCOA (CACAO) (Theobroma cacao)
Botany: Theobroma cacao is a tree native to the Americas. It is an evergreen tree with leathery oblong leaves, and grows to about 8 m high. Fruits are berries borne directly on trunk and branches, with seeds within a mucilaginous pulp.
The parts used are the seeds, which are commonly called cacao or cocoa beans. Cacao is generally used to describe the crude materials, while cocoa is used to describe the processed products.
There are three varieties of cacao: Forastero, Criollo and Trinitario. Forastero accounts for more than 90% of the world’s usage and is produced primarily in West African countries (e.g. Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, and the Ivory Coast), while the Criollo variety is produced in Venezuela and Central America, as well as Papua New Guinea, Java and Samoa. Trinitario is believed to be a hybrid of the other two varieties and is produced in Venezuela, Trinidad, Sri Lanka and other countries.
Biochemistry: Cocoa contains more than 300 volatile compounds, including hydrocarbons, monocarbonyls, pyrroles, pyrazines, esters, lactones, and others.
The important flavour components are reported to be aliphatic esters, polyphenols, unsaturated aromatic carbonyls, pyrazines, diketopiperazines, and theobromine. Cocoa also contains about 18% proteins, fats (cocoa butter), amines, alkaloids, including theobromine, caffeine, tyramine, dopamine, salsolinol, trigonelline, nicotinic acid, and free amino acids, tannins, phospholipids, starch and sugars, minerals, and others.
Theobromine, the major alkaloid in cocoa, has similar pharmacological activities to caffeine. However, its stimulant activities on skeletal muscles are much weaker than those of caffeine, but it is stronger muscle relaxant.
Cocoa Butter contains triglycerides consisting mainly of oleic, stearic and palmitic acids. About three quarters of the fats are present as mono-unsaturates. It has excellent emollient properties.
Products: Three main types of ingredients are produced from cacao seeds: cocoa powder, cocoa butter, and cocoa extracts. Oil of Theobroma, or cacao butter, (incorrectly but commonly termed "cocoa butter") is extracted from the roasted seeds of Theobroma cacao and is a yellowish white solid, with an odour resembling that of cocoa.
Fragrance Ingredient; Skin-Conditioning Agent - Occlusive; skin protectant; emollient; masking; skin conditioning; skin protecting.
Traditional use: A traditional African remedy for dry skin, suitable for the most delicate of skin types. Cocoa butter is used to treat neck wrinkles on neck (turkey neck), around the eyes and at the corners of the mouth.
Cocoa butter is used extensively as an ointment base. It has excellent emollient properties and is used to soften and protect chapped hands and lips. It is used in preparations for rough or chafed skin, chapped lips, sore nipples, various cosmetics, pomatums, and fancy soaps.
Cocoa butter has been reported to have skin allergenic and comedogenic (forming blackheads) properties in animals.
Classified as not expected to be potentially toxic or harmful.
Not suspected to be an environmental toxin
Not assessed for safety in cosmetics by the industry panel.
CALENDULA (MARIGOLD) (Calendula officinalis)
Botany: Calendula, or pot marigold, is a hairy annual to perennial (if freezing is absent) 20-50 cm high plant from the Asteraceae family. Leaves are oblanceolate to oblong; flowers are yellow or orange 4-7 cm in diameter. It is widely cultivated in Europe and North America; it is naturalized in south and west Europe. The parts used are the flower and leaves.
History and/or folklore: In traditional medicine the flower was historically considered vulnerary, antiseptic and styptic. It is used externally as a lotion or ointment for burns and scalds, bruises, cuts, rashes, sore nipples, abscesses, wounds, bleeding and eczema. Internally it is used for stomach ailments, gastric and duodenal ulcers, and jaundice. The plant and its preparations are used to stimulate circulation, promote healing, for gastric haemorrhage, ulcers, spasms, glandular swelling, jaundice, and anaemia.
Biochemistry: The flowers of Calendula officinalis contain flavonol glycosides, triterpene oligoglycosides, oleanane-type triterpene glycosides, saponins, sesquiterpene glucosides, caffeic acid, and carotenoids. The major carotenoids are lycopene and lutein.
Products: Calendula officinalis botanical extract
Calendula officinalis botanical extract
Calendula preparations show anti-inflammatory, immunomodulating and wound-healing, antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, and anti-parasitic activities. They stimulate granulation at wound site, increasing glycoprotein, nucleoprotein and collagen metabolism.
In vitro and animal tests have shown topical anti-inflammatory effects due to ψ-taraxasterol, isorhamnetic glycosides, and triterpenoidal fatty acid esters found in extracts of calendula flowers. Also reported was stimulation of phagocytosis in vitro, choleric activity. Isolated polysaccharides have shown in vitro and in vivo tumour-inhibiting activity and immunostimulating activity in the carbon clearance and granulocytes tests. An ethanol extract of the flowers enhanced the in vitro proliferation of lymphocytes.
The carotenoid lycopene is a strong antioxidant and free radical scavenger and the carotenoid lutein is strong antioxidant with anti-inflammatory and photoprotective properties. The mechanism of lutein's anti-aging and anti-carcinogenic effects include inhibition of metalloproteinases (MMP) to tissue inhibitor of MMP (TIMP) ratio in dermal fibroblasts and melanoma cells, inhibition of cell loss, membrane damage and elastin expression in ultraviolet radiation exposed fibroblasts. Caffeic acid, also a component of calendula, is a selective inhibitor for leucotriene biosynthesis and can inhibit arachidonate lipoxygenase activity. Plants containing caffeic acid are used for drainage and reduction of swelling and for the strengthening of cell membranes in the skin.
Preparations of calendula flowers are used externally to treat dermal and mucous membrane inflammations, hard-to-heal wounds, leg ulcers, dermatitis, mild burns, sunburns, bruises, boils, and rashes. Internally they are used to treat inflammatory lesions of the oral and pharyngeal mucosa.
They are used in diverse body care products, including face, body, and hand creams, lotions, night creams, ointments, shampoos, suntan products, baby products, eye makeup, and others.
A cream containing an extract of calendula was tested in a Phase III clinical trial and was found to provide good protection against acute dermatitis in women treated with radiation therapy for postoperative breast cancer.
No dermal irritation was detected.
No sensitizing effects were found in humans from occlusive patches supplying cosmetics containing 1% calendula extract, but further safety data to support the use of the flowers in cosmetic preparations should still be made.
No genotoxic effects were found from a herbal tea of the flowers and none was found from six saponins isolated from the flowers. A fluid extract of the flowers was non-mutagenic in animal tests.
However, in vitro genotoxic effects were found. In rat cell cultures, unscheduled DNA synthesis was inhibited by nanogram concentrations of various solvent extracts of the flowers. Genotoxic effects were only found with high concentrations.
CARDAMOM (Elettaria cardamomum)
Botany: Cardamom or cardamon refers to several plants of the similar genera Elettaria and Amomum in the ginger family Zingiberaceae. Elettaria is commonly called cardamom, green cardamom, or true cardamom (Amomum is commonly known as black cardamom, brown cardamom, Kravan, Java cardamom, Bengal cardamom, Siamese cardamom, white cardamom, or red cardamom). Cardamom is a perennial reed-like plant with lance-shaped leaves borne on long sheathing stems, growing up to about 4 m high. A large fleshy rhizome is similar to ginger. The flowers are small yellowy with a violet tip. Oblong gray fruits follow the flowers, each containing many seeds. The plant is native to tropical Asia, and is now cultivated extensively in tropical regions such as India, Sri Lanka, Laos, Guatemala, and El Salvador.
The parts used are the dried, nearly ripe fruits with seeds.
History and/or folklore: Cardamom was well known in ancient times and the Egyptians used it in perfumes and incense and chewed it to whiten their teeth, while the Romans used it for their stomachs when they over-indulged.
Cardamom is broadly used in traditional medicine in India and in China as a stimulant, to treat infections in teeth and gums, to prevent and treat throat troubles, to treat urinary problems, inflammation of eyelids and also digestive disorders (carminative, stomachic, and laxative preparations). It also is used to break up kidney stones and gall stones, and was reportedly used as an antidote for both snake and scorpion venom.
The Arabs ground it to use in their coffee and it is an important ingredient in Asian cooking.
Biochemistry: The cardamom essential oil consists of a volatile component (containing mainly α-terpinyl acetate, 1,8-cineole, limonene, linalool, borneol; and acid constituents such as acetic, butyric, decanoic, citronellic, heptanoic, and nerylic acids), protein, and a non volatile component (containing sterols (β-sitostenone, stigmasterol, and β-sitosterol) and n-alkanes), and a high percentage of starch, manganese, and iron.
Products: Elettaria cardamomum essential oil is obtained by steam distillation of dried, nearly ripe fruits with seeds.
Cardamom oil has antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, cephalic, digestive, diuretic, expectorant, stimulant, stomachic, aphrodisiac, and tonic properties.
Elettaria cardamomum essential oil
The cardamom seed oil is mainly used as a flavour ingredient to flavour pharmaceuticals; and as a fragrance component in soaps, detergents, creams, lotions, lipsticks, hair-sprays, powders and perfumes. The oil is also used also as natural flavouring in liqueurs. The oil is widely used in massage and bath oils to provide a refreshing and uplifting effect for those feeling weak and mentally fatigued.
Available data indicate cardamom oil generally to be non-toxic, non-irritant and non-sensitizing. No mutagenic activity was found from cardamom in the Ames test.
In vitro tests have shown antimicrobial activity due to various constituents of the essential oil.
Cardamom oil has shown in vitro antispasmodic activity on isolated mouse and rabbit intestine. An aqueous extract of the seeds increases trypsin activity in a buffer solution.
Irritating to eyes. Sensitisation by skin contact has been reported by some individuals.