Camwood (Baphia nitida) is a tree predominantly found in West Africa from Sierra Leone to Cameroon, and is also known as the African Sandalwood in English and Iyerosun in Yoruba. Wood from this burgundy coloured tree wood is extremely hard, heavy and durable, and is traditionally used to make drumsticks, mortars and pestles, knife handles, etc. as it turns out well when it is carved. It is also used to make ornamental fencing in areas of South West Nigeria. It is typically sold in local herb markets as small balls of ground fibre, and can be purchased for about 1,000NGN for about 12 to 15 pieces.
Cosmetic Use of Camwood.
The core of the Camwood tree beneath the bark can be ground into a fibrous powder which has a very gentle exfoliating effect that is perfect for sensitive skin and is traditionally used all over West Africa as an antiseptic treatment for common skin conditions like Acne, Eczema, Wrinkles, blemishes, blackheads and sunburns; as well as in indulgent native spa treatments for new-borns and brides to be. Camwood is rich with cleansing and rejuvenating properties; and it has natural soothing and skin enhancing qualities, which is why it is an important ingredient in a number of our skin care products here at Adunni Organics.
Local Nigerian Names for Camwood.
Commonly known as Osun in Yoruba, Majigi in Hausa, Ekui in Cross Rivers State and Uhie in Igbo, camwood powder is popular in Nigeria where it is traditionally mixed with Shea Butter and applied as an ointment used to treat stiff joints.
Traditional Uses of Camwood.
Yoruba honey hunters were known to use it to ward off bee stings, and in Tiv culture, the powder is used to coat the inside of gourds to create bee hives, while Igbo folk cook and eat the seeds and leaves which are very protein rich. In colonial times, before the advent of chemical dyes, it was heavily exported to Europe for use a dye for wool, cotton and silk.
In Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire and Nigeria the leaves and bark are used for their anti-inflammatory effects on sores and wounds. In Côte d’Ivoire powdered leaves are taken with palm wine or food to cure venereal diseases, and leaf sap is applied as eye drops against jaundice.
Camwood powder can also be used to brighten up the skin, and as an anti-aging and detoxifying treatment. It can be used to make a rejuvenating face mask to help recover from blemishes and prevent future breakouts. Results can usually be seen within a couple of weeks.
Rejuvenating Camwood Mask Recipe
What you need:
- 1 banana
- 1 tablespoon camwood powder
Mix and mash together, and apply to affected areas for 15 minutes before washing off. The result is brighter skin almost immediately.
Camwood can also be made into a paste by mixing it with water, honey, yogurt, milk or egg whites to give the skin a protein boost which will promote elasticity and firmness. You could also get the rejuvenating power of camwood by using our Arewa Detox Soap. Give it a try and let’s read your opinion!
- Antimicrobial activity of camwood (Baphia nitida) dyes on common human pathogens – O. K. Agwa, C. I. Uzoigwe and A. O. Mbaegbu, Department of Microbiology, University of Port Harcourt, Port Harcourt, Rivers State Nigeria.
- The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture website.