The almond tree (prunus dulcis) belongs to the genus of cherries (prunus) and to the familiy of rosaceous plant (rosacaea). Botanically speaking it is not a nut, but a stone fruit. There is a difference between sweet and bitter almonds.
The plant can grow to a 3 – 8 meter high tree or a bush with upright and horizontal branches with many short twigs. The average life span is about 70 – 80 years.
2. Origin/flowering time/harvest
The almond has its origin in Central Asia and the Near East and is now cultivated also in the Mediterranean Region and in California.
From March to April the plant forms white to pink blossoms from which the stone fruit develops.
Depending on species and climate the harvest ranges from August to October.
The oil is obtained from the ripe, skin free seeds of the sweet almond and the bitter almond. The oil of the bitter almond should not be used as food, as it contains up to 8 % amygdalin, which can be transformed by enzymatic cleavage into hydrocyanic acid and benzaldehyde. The yield is depending on the kinds of almonds 30 – 60 %.
In general, almond milk is very skin compatible. The oil is not irritant or comedogenic: it does not clog the pores of the skin and therefore causes no skin impurities.
Almond oil has a good penetration capability, which makes it very suitable for dry skin (In comparison: peanut oil has no penetration capability at all.). The skin becomes smooth and moist. It can be used for cold creams, skin oils, ointments and massage oils (also suitable for stretch mark treatment).
A disadvantage occurs through its high content of polyunsaturated fatty acids: which tend to make the oil rancid very fast.
The almond oil is used in the pharmacy for solvents and dispersants with oily parenteral injections because it is a remarkable binder for drugs. Since the oil is easily sterilizable the almond oil can be also found as a base for eye drops. These eye drops can keep the drug substance longer on the eye but should be applied mostly at night since they form a lubricating film.
In hair care products, the oil is used as a moisturizer and strengthens the hair structure.
Almond oil is used as lubricant in precision engineering and as care product for musical instruments.
5. Further properties/facts
Special attention should be given to the content substance alpha tocopherol since it allows conclusions regarding possible impurities. Qualitatively inferior blends with for example apricot, peach or sesame oil have a lower alpha tocopherol content.