Botany: The avocado is a dense, large evergreen tree that can grow up to 20 m high; fruit is large (5-20 cm long) and fleshy, pyriform, ovate or spherical, with a thin to thick sometimes woody skin. Avocado is native to tropical America (Mexico, Central America), where is widely cultivated. Several commercial varieties are also cultivated in the USA.
Parts used are fruit and seed.

History and/or Folklore: The name ‘Avocado’ originates from the Aztec name ahuacacuauhitl meaning “testicle tree”. Avocado trees produce thousands of flowers and only about one in 5000 sets fruit. In traditional medicine, pulp of American avocado was used by Guatemalan Indians as hair pomade to stimulate hair growth, to hasten suppuration of wounds, as an aphrodisiac and an emmenagogue; seeds were used to treat diarrhoea and dysentery; powdered seeds were used by American Indians to treat pyorrhoea, and infusions were used to treat toothache.

The seed yields a milky fluid with the odour and taste of almond. Because of its tannin content, it turns red on exposure to air, providing an indelible red-brown or blackish ink which was used to write many documents in the days of the Spanish Conquest. The ink has also been used to mark cotton and linen textiles.

Commercial products:
(1) Avocado oil: Avocado oil is produced by expressing the dried pulp of the fruit. It is cold-pressed and refined to give a stable shelf life.
(2) Avocado butter: hydrogenated avocado oil.


Avocado oil (avocado fixed oil), Avocado butter (solid)
Traditional use: a light, fast penetrating oil that was reported to be absorbed faster by the skin that corn, soybean, almond and olive oils. A complex blend of vitamins A and E (antioxidants, which are both fat-soluble and easily penetrate the lipid bilayer) and other active materials, which increase skin elasticity and encourages healthy skin.

This highly therapeutic oil is rich also in vitamins B1, B2 (lack of B2 leads to chapped lips and skin, skin peeling, sores in the mouth corners, dermatitis), B5 (panthothenic acid), and D, minerals (K, P, Mg, S, Ca, Na, Cu), proteins, lecithin (a mixture of phospholipids and other similar substances and is a major component of the phospholipid bilayer of cell membranes) and fatty acids. Avocado oil is more oily and viscous oil which passes through the epidermis better than some other oils. It also helps in the reconstruction of the hydrolipid layer and thus improves the skin’s protective barrier, and this gives it a more pleasant, softer look and even more flexibility. It is a useful, penetrating nutrient for dry, mature skin and eczema.

Contains sterols: β-sitosterol, campesterol, stigmasterol, brassicasterol, δ5-Avenastenol, tocopherols (vitamin E) and others.

The phytosterols in the human digestive tract cannot be absorbed into the body and are mostly eliminated from the body. However they are distributed in the so-called mixed micelles faster than cholesterol. Fatty acids and fat-soluble substances like cholesterol and fat-soluble vitamins pass through mixed micelles with the help of bile acids in plasma. Since in this process phytosterols are faster than cholesterol, the cholesterol is practically displaced from the micelles, thus preventing the cholesterol passing from the food into the body and increasing the amount of free LDL-cholesterol and total cholesterol in the blood.

Avocado oil is believed to have healing and soothing properties to the skin and the pulp oil is used in massage creams, muscle oils, hair products, and others. The fruit pulp is used in face creams. A pharmaceutical preparation containing the seed oil (unsaponifiable fraction) has been patented for use in the treatment of sclerosis of the skin, pyorrhoea, arthritis and others. The unsaponifiable fraction is combined with those of soy beans for use in the treatment of osteoarthritis. Clinical studies have shown that avocado oil can reduce blood cholesterol.


Avocado is a known cross-reactant in individuals with latex allergy. Severe allergic reactions can occur in these patients after eating avocado.



Facial care