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Sterculic Oil

What Should I Know About It?


Updated June 17, 2013

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Sterculic oil is a natural substance sourced from the seeds of Sterculia foetida, also known as the wild almond tree. Sometimes touted as a weight loss aid, sterculic oil is said to offer a variety of health benefits.

Sterculic oil contains cyclopropenoic fatty acid, a type of fatty acid that appears to inhibit an enzyme called stearoyl-CoA desaturase-1 (SCD1). Known to play a key role in fat metabolism, SCD1 occurs at elevated levels in obese people. Reducing levels of SCD1 is thought to protect against metabolic health issues associated with obesity.

Uses for Sterculic Oil

Sterculic oil is said to aid in the treatment of the following health problems:

In addition, sterculic oil is purported to reduce abdominal fat.

Benefits of Sterculic Oil

To date, very few scientific studies have tested the health effects of sterculic oil. However, some preliminary research suggests that sterculic oil may aid in the treatment of certain obesity-related health problems.

For instance, a study published in the journal Obesity in 2013 found that obese rats fed a sterculic-oil-enriched diet for ten weeks experienced improvements in metabolic health. Study results showed that treatment with sterculic oil led to a decrease in SCD1 activity, which—in turn—appeared to help regulate blood sugar, reduce abdominal fat, and lower cholesterol levels.

In addition, a study published in ISRN Endocrinology in 2012 found that mice given sterculic oil for nine weeks had a decrease in liver inflammation and an improvement in insulin tolerance (a key marker of metabolic health).

Alternatives to Sterculic Oil

While it's too soon to recommend sterculic oil for weight loss, there's some evidence that other natural remedies may support your weight-loss efforts. For instance, some studies suggest that drinking green tea and maintaining optimal levels of vitamin D may help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

Additionally, some studies indicate that practicing mind-body techniques like yoga, meditation, and tai chi may also help promote weight loss.

If you're looking to trim away excess abdominal fat, there are several natural remedies that may be helpful. For example, preliminary research shows that soy, probiotics, and green tea each show promise as a natural approach to reducing abdominal fat.


Due to a lack of research, little is known about the safety of long-term use of sterculic oil. However, it's important to note that self-treating a chronic condition with sterculic oil and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences. If you're considering the use of sterculic oil in treatment of a chronic condition, make sure to consult your physician prior to starting your supplement regimen.

Learn more about safe use of dietary supplements.

Where to Find Sterculic Oil

Widely available for purchase online, sterculic oil is sold in many natural-foods stores and in stores specializing in dietary supplements.


Ortinau LC, Nickelson KJ, Stromsdorfer KL, Naik CY, Pickering RT, Haynes RA, Fritsche KL, Perfield JW 2nd. "Sterculic Oil, a natural inhibitor of SCD1, improves the metabolic state of obese OLETF rats." Obesity (Silver Spring). 2013 Feb;21(2):344-52.

Ortinau LC, Pickering RT, Nickelson KJ, Stromsdorfer KL, Naik CY, Haynes RA, Bauman DE, Rector RS, Fritsche KL, Perfield JW 2nd. "Sterculic Oil, a Natural SCD1 Inhibitor, Improves Glucose Tolerance in Obese ob/ob Mice." ISRN Endocrinol. 2012;2012:947323.

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