Shea Butter, commonly known as Karité, is derived from the Shea Nut Tree (butyrospermum parkii) which grows in the western region of Africa. The fruits of these trees contain a nut. In the traditional method of extraction, the shea nuts are dried and ground and is naturally rich in vitamins A, E and F. It offers UV protection (it is SPF ~6) and provides the skin with essential fatty acids and the nutrients necessary for collagen production. Shea butter has been used in Africa and other countries for years to improve skin and hair.
Medicinally, Shea Butter has been studied as an anti-inflammatory topical cream, being helpful in cases of arthritis (Kerharo), and it contains stigmasterol which is the sterol known as "the anti-stiffness factor" making it helpful in cases of rheumatism (Hampton). It has additionally been studied as a nasal decongestant by applying it to the inside of the nostrils (Tella). Shea Butter is also helpful in cases of eczema and dermatitis and “contains chemical constituents that help to heal bruising and soreness” (Falconi).