12 Proven Benefits of Marula Oil

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

There are quite a few impressive benefits of marula oil such as revitalizing and moisturizing the skin, preventing premature aging, reducing blemishes and age spots, fending off dandruff, stopping hair loss, boosting heart health, protecting against chronic disease, aiding weight loss efforts and soothing inflammation. There are a few side effects, including skin irritation, indigestion, and hypotension, but when used topically, and in moderation, there are few negative reports of this oil.

What is Marula Oil?

Marula oil is a product of the marula tree, scientifically known as Sclerocarya birrea [1]More specifically, this oil comes from the nut of the fruit of the marula tree. Once this oil is extracted, it can be used in a wide variety of cosmetic and cooking applications, although it is most famous for its effects on the skin and hair. The tree is native to Africa and is very hardy and prolific, which explains why this oil is available all over the world. The oil ranges from clear to light yellow and has a nutty, rich aroma, which is why it is occasionally included in recipes and dishes, particularly in Africa. The many health benefits of this oil come from its rich supply of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, as well as tocopherols, vitamin C, flavonoids, sterols, and other antioxidants.

Benefits of Marula Oil

People who use marula oil are often those who are suffering from chronic inflammation, acne, wrinkles, premature aging, high stress, blemishes, sunburn, dandruff, hair loss, hormonal imbalances, a weak immune system, dry skin, heart problems and those who wish to lose weight, among others.

Skin Care

With a healthy supply of tocopherols, antioxidants and monounsaturated fats, marula oil provides an excellent shield for the skin, defending against environmental damages and keeping the skin moisturized. This is one of the reasons the oil gained so much popularity in Africa, where the tree is native, as the harsh, dehydrating environment there required extra protection against the elements. [2]

An image of marula trees

Marula is high in antioxidants. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Prevents Heart Diseases

When you use marula oil as cooking oil or in culinary practices, it is possible to benefit from the many unsaturated fats in the oil. These are the “good” kinds of cholesterol and can help to balance your “bad” cholesterol levels. This can help you prevent the development of atherosclerosis, and generally put less strain on your cardiovascular system. [3]

Hair Care

One of the most common uses of marula oil is a topical application to the hair. Known to stimulate hair growth and improve the health of your follicles, massaging a small amount of this oil into your scalp once a day can help you prevent any additional hair loss and even reverse the pattern of balding! [4]

Prevents Chronic Disease

Antioxidants come in many different forms within marula oil, and when this oil is ingested, those antioxidants can do some serious damage to free radicals in the body. This oil gives the body a protective boost and lower levels of oxidative stress. [5]

Used as a Massage Oil

While not the most common use of marula oil, it can be used as a massage oil, given its natural anti-inflammatory and rejuvenating qualities. It can stimulate the elimination of environmental toxins on the skin, soothe sore muscles, and boost the growth of new, healthy cells in the areas where you’re being massaged. [6]

Eliminates Dandruff

If you find those annoying white flakes on your shoulder, it may be time to turn to marula oil, which can moisturize the scalp and eliminate that dead skin before it can ever turn into dandruff. [7]

Reduces Signs of Aging

When used on the skin, marula oil is praised for being able to minimize the appearance of wrinkles and age spots, while also boosting the skin’s elasticity and helping you look younger and healthier than ever!

Moisturizes Skin

The moisturizing properties of this oil extend to the lips, hands and other commonly dry skin areas, which will not only prevent cracking and peeling but also protect those areas from infection.

Speeds Healing

Applying marula oil to wounds, scrapes, scratches, and cuts can help your immune system fend off pathogens and foreign substances from entering your body. The antioxidants and tocopherols have antibacterial properties that will keep your skin safe. [8]

Prevents Acne

Overactive sebum glands can leave you with constantly inflamed acne and very few solutions. The linoleic acid found in marula oil is specifically linked to a lower occurrence of skin conditions, and a cleansing of the pores, which can help you rid yourself of those annoying acne symptoms. [9]

Restores Hormonal Balance

Many of the problems in our body are caused by hormonal imbalances, from skin conditions to mood and appetite. The active ingredients found in marula oil are able to counter those hormonal fluctuations and keep your body functioning normally.

Reduces Inflammation

Whether you are applying this oil to a dry patch of skin or a sore joint or consuming it in hopes of settling your stomach, the anti-inflammatory nature of this oil can help soothe inflamed tissues and restore normal functions, even lubricating joints for sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis. [10]

Side Effects of Marula Oil

There are very few side effects associated with marula oil, but it is possible that you will experience irritation, gastrointestinal problems or hypotension, among other minor side effects. It is important to remember that this is a very potent oil, meaning that only a small amount is required to achieve the desired effects.

  • Blood Pressure – The various unsaturated fats found in marula oil, specifically oleic acid, which makes up more than 70% of this oil, is excellent for regulating blood pressure and protecting heart health. However, this can also cause dangerously low blood pressure when combined with other blood pressure-lowering medications. Speak to your doctor before adding this remedy to your daily or weekly health regimen if you have heart issues.
  • Skin Inflammation – As with so many concentrated oils, applying marula oil to the skin can cause inflammation, redness, and itching. This may be due to an allergy, excessive use of the oil, or highly sensitive skin. The best approach is to apply a small amount of the oil to a patch of skin, wait a few hours, and see if any negative effects appear.
  • Stomach issues – For those unused to using marula oil in their food or as cooking oil, it can cause stomach upset, nausea, vomiting or indigestion. These side effects are rare, and again, use in culinary applications (i.e., internal consumption) is quite rare for this largely cosmetic oil.
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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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