What is Yangu?

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  • Written By: Tina Samuels
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 30 December 2019
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Yangu is from the Rutaceae family of plants. It is an African tree that is used for an abundant flower display in areas of South Africa, specifically areas of the Cape. While not closely related to the horse chestnut, the explorer William Burchell saw a similarity between the flowers and fruits and called the Calodendrum capense tree the "Cape chestnut." The fruits of the Cape chestnut open when completely ripe and release small black seeds. Yangu oil is extracted, typically, by cold pressing these dried seeds. The oil is used in the health and beauty industry, and is referred to as the essential oil Yangu.

The oil from the Yangu has a bland aroma and a clear to pale yellow appearance. After the cold pressing, the oil that is collected is then used in a variety of health and beauty items such as hair oil, massage oil, and soaps, and as an essential oil. It is widely used in skin care regimens as a home herbal remedy to sunburn and dry skin. It also has an ultra violet (UV) protector in it with essential oils and antioxidants.


This herbal remedy has made its way into natural cosmetics, organic hand and body treatments, and many commercial beauty salons. Many spas now offer it as one of their many varieties of massage oil, as well as in hair salons as a product treatment. Not all spas offer this oil, however, so it is wise to call before any spa visit to see if they offer Yangu oil in its treatments. It can be a natural sunscreen when worked into the skin on a regular basis.

The oil is also non-toxic and non-drying, so it is often used as a soap additive, especially in facial soaps and homemade organic shampoos. When combined with cleansing agents, it has the ability to add softness and lessen the drying effects of most soaps. African salons have been using Cape chestnut oils in soaps, cosmetics, massage oils, and essential oils, and even applying it directly to hair. Coconut oil has also been used for hair because it can prevent protein loss by bonding with the proteins in the hair and penetrating the hair shaft. Now research is looking into Yangu oil for this same purpose, to see if it will penetrate hair shafts as well as coconut oil.


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