Shea Butter

Shea nut treeThe shea tree, also known as a karite tree, is grown in a found on the Sahel belt that stretches across sub-Saharan Africa, primarily in Senegal, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Cote d’Ivoire, Mail, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Niger, Nigeria, Uganda, Chad, and Sudan. This area stretches almost 3000 miles from Atlantic to Pacific coasts. The tree which produces shea nuts is called a karite tree, while the shea tree matures at about 25 years, it can live for up to 300 years. The shea tree can grow as high as 15 meters, and produce 20 kilograms of shea nuts. In northern Ghana, the trees producing shea nuts cover an estimated 77,670 kilometers, and are found primarily in the Upper East, Upper West, and Northern Regions.

Shea nutsAlmost all parts of the shea nut tree have some practical use. The bark is an ingredient in traditional medicines against certain childhood illnesses and minor scrapes and cuts. In many West African countries, the bark of the shea tree is dried and ground and used in treatments for worms, leprosy, and dysentery. An infusion of the bark is also said to have the ability to neutralize the venom spit by a cobra. The roots of the shea tree also have traditional uses. Shea tree roots are grounded and used to help ease jaundice in babies. The roots are also boiled and placed on persistent sores of horses and cows. The shell of shea nuts can even be used to deter mosquitoes.  The most common use for the shea nut tree is the shea nut itself, which can be used in skin care, hair care, cosmetics, and in culinary endeavors.