Cotton oil for Herbal Naturopathy: properties, benefits, uses, side effects

Cotton oil has antioxidant characteristics that affect the cosmetic and food industry but the refining process helps to reduce the nutritional qualities of this natural oil.

Characteristics of cottonseed oil

Cotton oil is a vegetable oil obtained by cold pressing the seeds of cotton, a plant belonging to the genus Gossypium, of the Malvaceae family.

Rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, such as linoleic acid, cotton oil has excellent antioxidant properties because it is also very rich in vitamin E and therefore widely used in cosmetic products for the skin.

Cotton oil appears as an oily substance with a light yellow color, with a pleasant and delicate texture fragrance. It needs to be subjected to a refining process to make it usable also in the food sector. The toxicity is given by the presence of gossypol, a dangerous substance for the whole organism that can lead to infertility.
Let’s see better what are the properties of refined cotton oil.

Properties of cotton oil

The main feature of cotton oil is its richness in tocopherol, so let’s talk about Vitamin E. After wheat germ oil and sunflower oil, cottonseed oil is the major contributor of antioxidant properties. Precisely for this characteristic it is used by the food industry as a preservative, its low cost and its stability positively connote it among the ingredients useful for this purpose.

The aspect that limits the properties of cotton oil is given precisely by the refining process, which affects the amount of antioxidant substances from origin. So even today it is not fully cleared of customs and clear whether this oil is a valid solution as an alternative to other anti-aging oils.

Use of cottonseed oil in cosmetics

Cotton oil is highly appreciated in the cosmetic field since its stability makes it ductile in aggregation with other components. Cotton oil is also rich in linoleic acid, the famous Omega-6, essential in the composition of ceramides, essential for the skin’s lipid composition. 

It is an easily absorbable and very delicate oil. It possesses eudermic properties:

  • elasticizing, for mature skin with little tone;
  • moisturizing, for dry and dehydrated skin, even from sun exposure;
  • regenerating of injured tissues, for peeling skin from dermatitis, light forms of psoriasis;
  • protective, counteracts the action of free radicals thanks;
  • polishing, especially if used on the hair, revitalizes the color and restores the shaft.

Using cottonseed oil in cooking

The food use of cottonseed oil always engenders conflicting arguments. To be fair, it is important to underline the need for a refined gossypol oil to be used in the kitchen, but in a sort of vicious circle , refining decreases the potential of its antioxidant properties and at this point there are oils with nutritional properties of greater impact. , such as extra virgin olive oil. 

There is an interesting aspect related to gossypol that has emerged from some scientific research: it seems that it is able to inhibit the proliferation of some cancer cells, in particular breast and prostate cancer by exerting an action on the SRC3 protein. In any case, these are still ongoing studies that need to be validated.

Curiosities about cottonseed oil

Cotton oil was long ago consumed by the Chinese population at particular times of the year. Its massive use had signaled the concomitant decline in births. From research carried out it was found that gossypol was responsible for male infertility.

Some Chinese manufacturers in the wake of this discovery had formulated a gossypol-based supplement for birth control, but the toxicity of this substance and the side effects led to its banning from marketing.


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