We asked Araceli Benavides, a Certified Nutritionist Specialist (CNS) and Licensed Nutritionist Dietitian (LDN) with a Master in Integrative Medicine from Georgetown University, to explain how the benefits of natural ingredients used medicinally for centuries in the Amazon have been scientifically proven.
The Amazon has been home to hundreds of indigenous communities for thousands of years. And the livelihoods and lifestyles of these men and women are bound to their natural environment: the survival of the rainforest is their own survival.
Moreover, these communities believe, like shamans do, that one’s personal balance depends on having a healthy connection with nature. It’s one of the reasons why they seek cures for ailments and diseases in their surroundings. Many of the ingredients these communities have used for centuries in their treatments have now been scientifically proven to be beneficial for our health, and are used in clean beauty formulas.
Cacao: A Mayan delicacy that combats aging
White cacao was very relevant in both the Mayan and Aztec cultures; it was used in religious ceremonies and as a form of currency, and it was associated with general wellness and fertility. Today, studies have shown that the topical use of cocoa extract can help diminish wrinkles and roughness of the skin, since it increases elasticity and dermal blood flow.
Uchuva: Rich in essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals
Similarly, the Incas cultivated uchuva, known also as goldenberry, and used its calyx —a thin layer that envelops the fruit— as an anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial remedy. Recent studies show that uchuva does have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. It’s also rich in nutrients, essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. The use of uchuva in natural skincare is innovative, and its efficacy has been proven: uchuva extract hydrates the skin and restores elasticity, helping battle the signs of aging.
Camu camu: The longevity fruit
Another potent fruit that Amazonian communities discovered long ago is camu camu. They’ve used it to treat infections and pain for hundreds of years, and they also believe camu camu helps maintain longevity, which has been proven correct in terms of skincare. Camu camu has a very powerful antioxidant effect that benefits the immune system, and its high concentrations of vitamin C also promote collagen formation —all this counteracts signs of fatigue and stress on the skin.
Schinus Molle: Quechuan knowledge confirmed
Meanwhile, in the fertile valleys of the Andes the molle tree has been growing for centuries, and its health benefits have been appreciated by the Quechua people for just as long. Traditionally, they use schinus molle to treat wounds, inflammations, cough and even depression. It has been scientifically confirmed that schinus molle is able to eliminate pathogenic bacteria and activate the immune system; in terms of skincare, this means it protects the skin from pollution, reduces sebum and refines the pores, while also boosting hydration.