Today, many types of palm trees are used in large quantities by the pharmaceutical and cosmetics
industries. The Saw Palmetto from Florida, (Serenoa repens (Bart.) Small) contains acids and sterols which are
highly therapeutic. Before Europeans arrived in Florida, the Seminole Indians used the fruits to treat urinary
problems. Early Americans used these fruits to treat such things as difficulty in urinating, as an aphrodisiac,
and even to increase breast size! It wasnt until the 1970s that serious work was done with it, notably
in French and German laboratories. Today, the extract of the fruit is the base of many products used in the
treatment of the enlarged prostrate. In most Latin and German countries it is treated as a medicine and refunded
by the state. In Anglo-Saxon countries it is considered to be a food supplement and demand is rising rapidly.
This international success has led to an increase in demand for these fruits. 4000 tons of fruit are harvested
annually in Florida to satisfy demand. The fruits come from trees in the wild which are numerous. Their growth
rate is very slow, and there are no artificial plantations. Other extracts from this palm enter into cosmetic
products such as those created for oily skin and for the struggle against baldness. Homeopathic treatments use
these fruit for prostatitis.
The coconut (Cocos nucifera L.) produces Copra oil, used to make the famous Tahiti Mono_
(suntan lotion). One litre of oil is left to macerate with 12 gardenia taitensis flowers. Coconut oil is a base
product for greases and wetting agents, used for soaps. In fact, every time you use soap or shower gel, coprah
oil is almost certainly present as a wetting agent. Coconut milk is also used in cosmetics and homeopathic remedies
for certain allergies.
The palm Elaeis guineesis Jacq, the famous African oil palm, gives us oil from the fruit pulp
as well as from the stone. These are also widely used as fats, emulsions, and wetting agents in cosmetic formulations.
The fruit pulp contains vitamins A and E. These have anti-oxygenating properties which are being investigated
as food supplements.