Exploring the uses of Chinese Camellia Oleifera and its by-products:

Exploring the uses of Camellia Oleifera and its by-products:

Introduction:

Chinese Camellia Oleifera and its by-products have been an integral part of Chinese culture for over 2,300 years. This unique woody oil tree species is native to China and has been cultivated for its various uses in medicine, health foods, and used chemical products, as well as being processed into high-quality edible oil. Research has shown that Camellia Oleifera contains an abundance of biologically active compounds, including vitamins and antioxidants that offer various health benefits. In this article, we will explore the applications of Camellia Oleifera and its by-products.

Edible Oil:

The oil content of the dry seeds of new cultivars and wild C. oleifera is approximately 47%, and the content of unsaturated fatty acids is as high as 90%. Oleic acid makes up more than 80% of these unsaturated fatty acids, and linoleic acid comprises 7-13%. The main characteristic feature of camellia oil is its high oleic acid content compared with other woody edible oils.

Health Benefits of Camellia Oil:

Camellia oil is a healthy alternative to other edible oils due to its high content of unsaturated fatty acids, particularly oleic acid. It is known for its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial activity and has been used in traditional Chinese medicine to promote blood circulation and relieve pain. Its by-products, such as camellia seed cake and saponin, also have potential health benefits and are widely used in various industries.

Camellia oil contains tocopherol, sterol, squalene, vitamin E, and flavonoids, which are thought to aid weight loss and reduce the risks of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases. The active substances in camellia oil can delay the degradation of unsaturated fatty acids in the oil, lower cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood lipids, relieve constipation, and reduce liver and gastrointestinal damage.

Camellia By-Products:

The seeds remaining after oil extraction are by-products referred to as camellia seed cake. Seed cakes contain large amounts of polyphenols and new saponins with ant-melanogenic and hypoglycaemic activity. Saponin from C. oleifera is a natural plant pesticide that shows potential to be used for the control of insect and fungal pests.

Camellia oleifera is widely known for its oil production, but its shell is an often overlooked and underutilized resource. The shell of Camellia oleifera is composed mainly of cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin, making it an ideal raw material for producing activated carbon. Approximately 54% of Camellia oleifera fruits are shells, and this rich biomass resource can be transformed into a valuable product. Studies have shown that a mature Camellia shell is composed of stone cells, spiral vessels, and parenchyma, with the latter two being the main cell types. The high-quality by-products of Camellia shell have been used in many industries, including the production of tannins, furfural, and activated carbon, as well as a natural colourant for pigment printing on cotton fabrics.

Camellia shell is a green pesticide due to its ability to resist fungi and termites. Camellia shell extract has also been used as a skin-whitening agent in cosmetic products due to its ability to inhibit tyrosinase activity in vitro.

Activated carbon produced from Camellia shell:

The advantages of Activated carbon produced from Camellia shell are many including water purification and decolourization. The advantages of Camellia shell-activated carbon mainly include its high yield and low cost, as well as the fact that it provides a guaranteed source of raw materials. Camellia shell-activated carbon also shows high electrical conductivity and can be used as electrodes. Activated carbon electrodes can be prepared from Camellia shells, and this is a particularly efficient method for using Camellia resources. Studies have shown that Camellia shell carbon can remove hexavalent chromium and methylene blue from water by adsorption, and it has similar burning properties to ordinary wood. It can also rapidly remove phenolic pollutants in water.

In conclusion, a Camellia shell is a valuable resource that can be used to produce high-quality by-products, including activated carbon and natural colourants. With the right technology and methods, Camellia Shell can provide sustainable solutions for various industries and contribute to a more environmentally friendly future.

Citation: Quan, W., Wang, A., Gao, C., & Li, C. (2022). Applications of Chinese Camellia oleifera and its By-Products: A Review. Frontiers in Chemistry, 10. https://doi.org/10.3389/fchem.2022.921246