21st May 2024

By Elizabeth Yaa Brobbey

It was an Independence Holiday and Ewurafua decided to mark it with some Akuapem recipe palm nut soup and fufu. After more than an hour of boiling and popping, the soup was near ready and had to be moved to a lower heat burner to simmer.

In the process, however, the big pot slipped from Ewurafua’s grip emptying its super hot stock all over her torso. Amidst the shock, fear and pain from the burns, she remembered a radio guest’s testimony on how good shea butter calmed burns and prevented scars. Therefore, after taking a quick cold shower for some immediate relief, she gently rubbed some generous amounts of shea butter all over her body and checked into the hospital emergency.

It was obvious to the nurses that the blisters would degenerate into sores that would need dressing and so Ewurafua was asked to pay for that treatment that she did dread. Paid she did, but the dressing she would not need, as the healing effects of the shea butter had controlled the blisters and aided the recovery. Indeed, two weeks after the incident, there were no visible scars.

From then on, Ewurafua became a shea butter campaigner, encouraging anyone who would listen to always keep some of the butter at home to enjoy all of its goodness.

According to an article published in the African Journal of Biochemistry, in February, 2019, shea butter is a high-value shea nut fat, used as edible oil, antimicrobial and moisturiser in the food, pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries, respectively.

The annual worldwide export of shea nut from Africa is 350,000 metric tonnes of kernels with a market value of about $120 million to producing countries. The multifunctional properties of the shea butter depend strictly on its compositional properties: the peroxide value, moisture content, free fatty acid level and the insoluble impurities.

The American-based webmd.com states that people apply shea butter to the skin for acne, arthritis, burns, dandruff, inflamed skin, dry skin, eczema, insect bites, itch, muscle soreness, scaly and itchy skin (psoriasis), rash, a skin infection caused by mites (scabies), scars, sinus infection, skin breakages, stretch marks, wound healing, and wrinkled skin.

In foods, shea butter is used as a fat for cooking, while in manufacturing, it is used in cosmetic products.

In Ghana, shea butter is extensively used during the Harmattan season to beat chapped lips, dry skin and cracked heels.

Many people, however, shunned it outside the dry season claiming it had a crude scent and was just good for the low-income earners who did not have any sophisticated options.

But that position is fast changing as people like Ewurafua, keep sharing their testimonies about the healing properties of the butter to their so-called sophisticated friends.

In various interviews with the Ghana News Agency (GNA), a cross-section of citizens in the middle-class level, said the butter, both in its raw and processed form, has become their preferred choice of skin product for many good reasons.

Shea butter, they emphasise, has worked for them in preventing scars, treating skin infections, inflammation, stretch marks, healing wounds, smoothing wrinkled skin, stimulating hair growth, treating nasal congestion and so much more.

Pastor Eric Appah Marfo of the Resurrection Power and Living Bread Ministries International, says he has been lucky that his mother picked natural shea butter over refined body creams. Using the butter since his birth had rewarded him with a well-nourished smooth skin and sleek hair.

“Shea butter also helps to relieve me of body pains and minor fractures whenever I use it for a massage,” he adds.

“These days, there is no reason for anyone to shun this natural gift because cosmetologists and entrepreneurs are adding value, in terms fragrance and texture, to make them more appealing and unique”.

He urged the Government to support shea butter processes to develop cosmetic products that would replace bleaching creams and create employment avenues.

Madam Priscilla Ofosuhemaa, a midwife at the Mamprobi Polyclinic, said: “We rub shea butter on newly born babies because it is best for their fragile skin.

“After birth, we wait for six hours before we bath them but since they will need to remain warm before their bath, we apply shea butter or even baby oil so that the liquid and stains on the baby will not get stuck. We then wipe them clean and later bath them”.

Naomi Amoah a shea butter vendor at the Adentan Market stated: “I plead with the Government that the ‘One District, One Factory’ initiative should be directed to the path of shea butter production or perhaps provide machines to the product manufacturers to improve productivity’’ she added.

Ms. Rebecca Osei, a cosmetics shop owner at the Adentan Market, also said shea butter was best for natural skin toning.

“There are popular lotions, which contain shea butter but because of the chemicals added to them, they become harmful to the skin as compared to the natural shea butter,” she added.

For Ms Esi Larbie, the growing interest in natural shea butter makes her anticipate a huge market ahead, therefore, at the beginning of the year, she quit her rather high paying office job to join her sister to innovate products from the shea butter just to meet the taste of the upper class.

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