Maracuja oil is a relatively expensive oil that comes from the various varieties of Passionflower plant. However, not all maracuja oils come from this plant. Some of the maracuja oils may be extracted from the seeds of passionfruit. Despite the differences in source, these two oils are quite similar. The oil is light and is considered to be a good emollient. It acts as a nice moisturizer by penetrating readily into the skin and preventing moisture from leaking out. There are many other health benefits of maracuja oil.

Source

Maracuja word comes from the Amazon, where it refers to the Passion fruit. Its biological name is Passiflora edulis. The seeds of this fruit are rich in oil, and when extracted, this is termed as maracuja oil. However, this is not the major source of Maracuja oil. Most commercial Maracuja oil comes from the Passion flower. Its biological name is Passiflora incarnata. So, we see that both the sources are from the same genus. Passion flower is an exotic, breathtaking flower which has many health benefits too. Most common application of passion flower is to induce sleep and promote relaxation in people with anxiety.
There may be differences in the properties of Maracuja oil derived from passion fruit and the passion flower. Maracuja and its oil have been used in Aztec civilization and in the heart of the Amazon rainforest for a variety of uses.

Passion Fruit Essential Oil

Properties

These are some of the therapeutic properties of Maracuja oil. Since it is not a well researched oil, we still only know little about it.

  • Emollient – It is considered to be an excellent moisturizer for skin.
  • Anti-inflammatory – it reduces inflammation.
  • Anti-insomnia – may induce sleep, but not validated.
  • Antioxidant – scavenges free radicals, thus preventing our tissues from damage by these entities.
  • Anti-itching – relieves itching on the skin.

Other potential properties which might be present in this oil based on the properties of the source plants.

  • Anti-stress – this oil may have a profound stress  relieving effect.
  • Anti-asthmatic – reduce bronchial spasms and asthma. 
  • Anti-tussive – cough suppressant
  • Anxiolytic – relieve anxiety

There really needs to be more research in this oil which can have powerful health benefits.

Passion Fruit Flower

Uses and Health Benefits

Maracuja oil is being purported to be useful in many cosmetic applications. One can use it in the following ways.

Maracuja oil for Dry Skin

Maracuja oil is a nice emollient. So, it can be applied on the skin to keep it hydrated. Before applying this oil, one should do a patch test on a small spot on the skin. If there is no irritation, then it is safe to apply this oil directly in undiluted form. For small dry regions on the skin, take few drops of oil on your palm and rub it gently into the skin. It moistens the skin and feels quite light. So, there is no greasy feeling after applying.
For large areas of skin, one can dilute it with carrier oil, like coconut oil, or olive oil in any dilution ratio that you prefer. Massage with this combination will provide the skin with the benefits of maracuja oil.

Maracuja oil for Itching

This oil curbs itching. So, if you are experiencing itching, apply this oil. Only a few drops should be enough. One should however avoid this if itching is because of a skin disorder, like eczema or psoriasis. This works great for insect bites and many other insect bites.

Treat sun damaged sun

Prolonged exposure to bright sunlight also exposes us to harmful UV radiation. UV rays are harmful for the skin, especially the UV-B rays. Over time, these rays lead to skin damage which is characteristic of accelerated ageing. The signs of this ageing on skin are wrinkles, sun spots and blemishes. Apply maracuja oil directly to these regions. The nutrients in maracuja oil, especially if it contains lycopene [1] can aid the skin in recovering from sun induced damage. Lycopene is a red colored carotenoid which is found in many foods, like tomato.

Massage for soothing painful aches

Sore and tired muscles can be soothed by incorporating maracuja oil in a massage formulation. Add maracuja oil to olive oil and massage it into sore muscles. Perform some basic stretching for that muscle group. Stretching also provides additional relief from cramping in muscles. Maracuja oil is anti-inflammatory, therefore it reduces inflammation in the muscles. Maracuja oil obtained from seeds of passion fruit are rich in omega- 6 fatty acids ( linoleic acid ). When an oil which is rich in this nutrient is massaged into the skin, inflammation is lowered.

Relieves anxiety

Maracuja oil may possess anxiolytic ( anxiety reducing ) effects. This may be more pronounced in the oil that comes from passion flower seeds. For reducing feelings of anxiety, open the vial containing maracuja oil and inhale deeply for 20 minutes. The oil possesses an earthy, woody smell. If it is not to your liking, then avoid this oil. There are many more oils which are good at relieving anxiety, like lemon oil, lavender oil, geranium oil and rose oil. They all smell exquisite. [2]

For Insomnia

Maracuja oil can help one get sleepy. Pour a few drops of maracuja oil over the pillow. Its aroma is faint, but should be enough for the person to fall asleep. If this is not enough, there  is another way to inhale maracuja oil in order to get sleepy.
Before going to sleep, prepare a warm water bath. When water is filled in the bathtub, add 10 – 20 drops of maracuja oil. Lay in this water. Hot water in an enclosed space will release steam which contains VOCs ( volatile organic compounds ) from maracuja oil. Switch off the exhaust and the aroma should become more and more strong with time. Spend ample time in this relaxing bath. When you are finished, the synergistic effect of a warm water bath and the sleep inducing effect of maracuja oil helps one fall sleep like a baby.
Inhaling the aroma of maracuja oil can also calm cough.

Side Effects, Safe Dosage and Toxicity Issues

Not much information is available about the safety of maracuja oil. For topical application, the oil may lead to skin irritation in some people. Some people may be allergic to plants in the Passiflora genus, so they should avoid this oil.
This oil should not be ingested as it may be toxic even at low concentrations.

Maracuja oil and Acne

Although maracuja oil is marketed as an anti-acne oil, there are anecdotal evidences of people reporting that this oil leads to breakouts. So, people with acne should look for alternative oils. In regards to acne, there needs to be more research to find out how maracuja oil affects acne. If it leads to breakouts, then there should be some reason behind this effect. This can be explained by the “Comedogenicity Value ” which is a measure of pore clogging potential of any substance.

Nutritional and Medicinal Information

Maracuja oil obtained from passion fruit seeds has a pretty unique nutritional value, which makes it quite different from other oils. Let us look at the fatty acid composition of cold pressed maracuja oil.

Fatty acids 
Maracuja oil contains 72.6 % linoleic acid, which is an omega – 6 fatty acid. This data comes from just one source. This makes maracuja oil undoubtedly one of the best sources of linoleic acid on earth. Linoleic acid, an omega – 6 is essential fatty acid which is required by the body. This is the complete fatty acid profile of maracuja oil.

Nutrient Percentage Property
Gamma Linoleic Acid PUFA
Stearic Acid 0 % Saturated fat
Palmitic Acid 12.8 % Saturated fat
Oleic Acid 10.7 % MUFA
Linoleic Acid 72.6 % PUFA
Alpha Linolenic Acid  – PUFA
Docosenoic Acid  – PUFA
Eicosenoic Acid  – PUFA
Behenic  – PUFA
Erucic  – PUFA

Most oils contain a more distributed profile in terms of fatty acids. But, maracuja oil selectively contains very high amounts of linoleic acid. If taken in diet, this may lead to pro-inflammatory reactions in the body.

Antioxidant capacity of Maracuja Oil
Although the most popular metric of antioxidant power is ORAC ( oxygen radical absorbance capacity ) value, for maracuja oil, the data is available in terms of another metric. It is called EC 50 [4]. The antioxidant power of maracuja oil is 7.12 mg/mL EC 50, which is stated to be a powerful antioxidant.

Apart from healthy fats, maracuja oil also contains carotenoids ( 4.6 μg per gm ) and phenols. Carotenoids are very healthy for the skin, especially when it comes to protecting it from sun damage.

References

1. β-Carotene and other carotenoids in protection from sunlight. Stahl W, Sies H. NCBI.
2. Essential oils and anxiolytic aromatherapy. Setzer WN. NCBI.
3. Comparative Properties of Amazonian Oils Obtained by Different Extraction Methods. Molecules.
4.The use of the stable free radical diphenylpicrylhydrazyl (DPPH) for estimating antioxidant activity. Molyneux, P.

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