Skip to main content

Author: Alexandra Lecomte

Head lice: how to effectively join nature

The recurring question remains: how to effectively get rid of head lice? The presence of these bloodsucking parasites is far from pleasant, and both children and parents want to to get rid of them as quickly as possible.

Over the past decades, head lice treatments have evolved significantly to meet the general public’s growing demand and adapt to the resistance developed by the insects. The ultimate goal is to provide an effective solution while moving towards more natural options while ensuring the safety of the product for both humans and the environment.

Development of the head lice care market

The global market for head lice treatments is growing rapidly: it was valued at $93.47 million in 2021 and is expected to reach $156.44 million by 2029. This represents an estimated annual growth rate of +6.65% for the period 2022-2029. 1

Seizing this strong market demand, head lice products have proliferated in recent years without always having their suitability or effectiveness validated.

“We want to raise awareness among patients and the general public that head lice treatments have become a significant commercial market, escaping serious therapeutic evaluation of certain products and therapeutic strategies,” warned the French Society of Dermatology in a 2019 statement. 2

Two main treatments categories

Initially, the market was dominated by neurotoxic insecticidal products such as pyrethrins or malathion, which target the nervous system of adult insects and nits. However, their effectiveness has been compromised by the emergence of resistance among lice to these substances. They are also criticised for their potentially harmful effects on health, leading to a search for natural solutions by consumers.

The French National Agency for the Safety of Medicines and Health Products (ANSM) took measures to limit the use of malathion, requiring a medical prescription and strengthening contraindications and precautions in response to its adverse effects (neurological disorders: headaches, nausea, vomiting, and very rarely, seizures in children). In this context, these products, once classified as drugs, have been withdrawn from the French market. The latest product of this type, Prioderm®, has not been manufactured since the end of 2018.3

Nowadays, the most commonly used treatments are dimethicone-based, a synthetic compound belonging to the silicone family. These products act mechanically by “suffocating” lice and nits, depriving these parasites of oxygen and preventing them from breathing. They are often referred to as “suffocants.”

Unlike previous treatments, there are no signs of resistance observed with these compounds. However, precautions related to their flammability are imperative, such as avoiding hair exposure to heat after treatment (hence precautions such as “Stay away from a heat source” or “Let hair air dry”).

Coconut oil, a natural alternative

This vegetable oil is extracted from the coconut (Cocos nucifera). It is widely recognised for its uses in cosmetics and hair care based on its moisturising and nourishing properties. 4,5 It is also employed as a natural and mechanical method to eliminate lice. It belongs to Class I of medical devices and also acts as a “suffocant.” Specifically, when coconut oil is generously applied to the hair and scalp, it coats lice and nits. This layer of oil blocks their respiratory openings, depriving them of oxygen. The parasites lose their internal fluids, dehydrate, and eventually die.

Clinically evaluated effectiveness

A 2009 English study evaluated the effectiveness of a shampoo based on an emulsion derived from coconut against head lice infestation in children.

The study took the form of a school trial, where students were treated on days 0 and 7, then checked on days 8 and 15. A trial in the family environment was also conducted, where the product was applied by parents three times within two weeks.

The results of the school trial showed that after 8 days, 61% of children were lice-free after using the coconut oil-based shampoo, compared to only 14% of students treated with a permethrin-based product.

Permethrin is a synthetic insecticide that acts by disrupting the nervous system of insects and causing paralysis, leading to their death. Suspected of being an endocrine disruptor 6,7, permethrin is no longer used in head lice products.

In the family trial, where all family members were treated, the cure rate reached 96% with coconut oil.

A plant-based product effective under some conditions

In response to increased demand for natural products, it is understandable why coconut oil is increasingly favored by consumers.

However, effectiveness is not consistently guaranteed among existing products. The nature of coconut oils varies depending on the origin or harvest period of the raw material.

This plant variability directly influences its fatty acid composition and, consequently, its efficacy in eliminating lice, as fatty acids are the compounds responsible for suffocation.

Fortunately, evidence of guarantees exists! Some suppliers have developed strict specifications to certify the same composition from one batch of material to another. The specifications include a unique fatty acid profile whose efficacy on lice and nits has been tested and proven to be 100%.

The numerous advantages of coconut oil against lice


One of the many advantages of coconut oil is its low allergenic potential 8,9. Coconut oil is extracted from the coconut pulp and generally does not contain proteins responsible for many food allergies.

This lack of sensitising effect makes it an ideal product for the whole family, including babies, young children, and pregnant women.


In addition, some head lice treatment manufacturers pay special attention to the environmental impact of their products: the coconut oils used in their lotions are said to be “easily biodegradable” according to OECD 301 F standards.

OECD 301 F standards refer to a series of test methods developed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to assess the biodegradability of chemicals and substances in the aquatic environment.

Biodegradability is a fundamental aspect in the formulation of cosmetic and rinsed products.

From this perspective, the use of dimethicone (the main head lice treatment belonging to the silicone family) may raise questions.

Christine Lafforgue, former president of the French Society of Cosmetology (2018-2021), a biologist and chemist by training, addressed the issue in an interview 10: “In truth, the only danger of dimethicone is its environmental impact. It is a component that is not biodegradable and is harmful to the health of the planet. European regulation REACH tries to prioritise the use of dimethicone, to see if its production can be limited to certain products. It is necessary to reflect on the product’s interest in relation to its impact on the environment.”

Enjoyable use of head lice treatment, is it possible?

Hypoallergenic and non-irritating, coconut oil is perfectly suitable for family and regular use.

Thanks to confidential manufacturing processes, some suppliers have even managed to make the oil non-greasy for optimal comfort.

As a brand, it is now possible to integrate into your range a natural and proven effective head lice treatment: non-irritating, non-greasy, environmentally friendly, and silicone-free!

The effectiveness of this solution relies on exclusive and specific sourcing of raw materials as well as a solid mastery of the technical formulation.

Thanks to privileged links with European industrial partners, BOTANI BRANDS experts accompany you in formulating an effective and ready-to-use product.


Sources :

  2. Global Lice Treatment Market – Industry Trends and Forecast to 2029 – Data Bridge Market Research
  4. Varma, S. R., Sivaprakasam, T. O., Arumugam, I., Dilip, N., Raghuraman, M., Pavan, K. B., Rafiq, M., & Paramesh, R. (2018). In vitro anti-inflammatory and skin protective properties of Virgin coconut oil. J Tradit Complement Med, 9(1), 5-14.
  5. Deen, A., Visvanathan, R., Wickramarachchi, D., Marikkar, N., Nammi, S., Jayawardana, B. C., & Liyanage, R. (2021). Chemical composition and health benefits of coconut oil: an overview. J Sci Food Agric, 101(6), 2182-2193.
  6. Sheikh, I. A., & Beg, M. A. (2021). Structural Aspects of Potential Endocrine-Disrupting Activity of Stereoisomers for a Common Pesticide Permethrin against Androgen Receptor. Biology (Basel), 10(2), 143. DOI: 10.3390/biology10020143. PMID: 33670303. PMCID: PMC7918290.
  7. Sheikh, I. A., & Beg, M. A. (2021). Structural Aspects of Potential Endocrine-Disrupting Activity of Stereoisomers for a Common Pesticide Permethrin against Androgen Receptor. Biology, 10(2), 143.
  8. Stutius, L. M., Sheehan, W. J., Rangsithienchai, P., Bharmanee, A., Scott, J. E., Young, M. C., … Phipatanakul, W. (2010). Characterizing the relationship between sesame, coconut, and nut allergy in children. Pediatr Allergy Immunol, 21(8), 1114-1118. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-3038.2010.00997.
  9. Fries, J. H., & Fries, M. W. (1983). Coconut: A review of its uses as they relate to the allergic individual. Ann Allergy, 51(4), 472-481. PMID: 6354008.
  10. Interview de Christin Lafforgue sur le dimethicone –,2056442.asp

Acacia Gum and Gummies: The Story of a Beautiful Encounter

100% plant-based, rich in fibre, low in calories, flavour-enhancing with a significant environmental and societal impact: acacia gum possesses all the necessary qualities to captivate gummies, the playful form of supplements currently booming in the food supplement market.

Acacia, a Gum with Nutritional Fibre!

Acacia gum, also known as gum arabic, is a resinous exudate extracted from the Acacia senegal (L.) Willd tree. Sudan and other sub-Saharan African countries such as Chad, Nigeria, Senegal, Mali, Niger, and Mauritania are the main producers of these solidified sap fragments 1.

Once harvested and dried, these precious amber aggregates are either crushed or transformed into a versatile powder by industrial stakeholders, with two of the major players being French companies: Alland & Robert and Nexira. Together, they represent over half of the global market for gum arabic 2.

This texturising agent, also labelled as E414, is highly sought after by the food industry due to its emulsifying capacity, stabilising properties, and ability to capture flavours, making it an essential ingredient in beverages and sweets.

Beyond its technical properties, acacia gum is also valued for its high fibre content (ranging from 91% to 97%) and beneficial nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium. Since December 2021, the FDA has authorised the qualification of acacia gum as a “dietary fibre.” 3

This means that its beneficial effects on human health are officially recognised, including the reduction of postprandial glycemia, improvement of digestive comfort, and its role as a source of prebiotic fibres 4.

Acacia gum also has the notable advantage of not contributing to tooth decay. As a non-fermentable carbohydrate, it does not feed the mouth bacteria responsible for acidifying dental plaque 5.

Gum Arabic: Ecological and Sustainable Production

Before becoming an indispensable ingredient for Western industries, acacia gum primarily serves as a source of income for entire villages in the Sahel region.

Generations of men and women have learned how to cultivate gum-yielding trees (in the wild, only one in 10,000 acacia species naturally produces resin). They also know the purely manual methods for tapping the trees to extract their valuable sap, as well as cleaning and drying techniques that ensure the production of high-quality gum.

The production of gum arabic also protects the soil from erosion thanks to the tree’s root system, which slows down desertification. These “gum trees” store CO2 and contribute to soil fertilisation by providing significant amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and proteins. Senegalese acacia plantations also help maintain high biodiversity along the edge of the Sahara.

Major industrial stakeholders involved in the transformation of this resin must ensure that producers are adequately compensated for the difficulty of their work and their expertise. The two main stakeholders, Nexira and Alland & Robert, are committed to sustainable development practices that aim to protect this resource, improve producers’ income, and contribute to the development of this supply chain 6,7.

Emiga, a company specialized in sourcing this matter8, has also distinguished itself with the creation of the “Niger Acacia Senegal Plantation Project.” 9

Initiated in 2005 by Thierry Dulon and his associate Boureima Wankoye This project was originally part of the Kyoto Protocol’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Its objective was to restore deforested and degraded lands in Niger by empowering rural communities to adopt sustainable agroforestry through the cultivation of indigenous species, specifically Acacia senegalensis.

Thierry Dulon explains, “Thirty-three village communities have received carbon credits, and the income generated by cultivating acacia has enabled them to invest in healthcare, education, and the construction of seed farms.

Acacia gum is not just a plant-based gelling agent. Its added value lies in the nutritional and sensory properties it offers to consumers of food supplements. It provides the rapidly growing gummy market with an innovative, healthy, and sustainable alternative to the more traditional fruit pectins.

When Gummies and Acacia Gum Make a Perfect Pair

In search of the ideal texturising agent capable of combining taste pleasure, technological properties, and nutritional benefits, gummy manufacturers see the potential of incorporating this plant resin directly from Africa.

These food supplements, resembling candies, are primarily composed of fruit pectin extracted from food industry by-products. Based on its dual technical and nutritional role, acacia gum possesses all the advantages to diversify this market segment and enhance the “health” aspect of gummies, which is sometimes overshadowed by sugar and taste.

Thanks to its emulsifying properties, acacia gum stabilises flavours and essential oils, providing an optimised sensory experience for the consumer 10. Its texture enables forming a protective film in the mouth and throat mucosa, with the prolonged release of  active ingredients.

The brand “Pâte suisse” from Lehning Laboratories has successfully highlighted the health positioning of acacia gum by featuring it in a complete product range of nine “sugar-free Swiss pastilles.” These gummies are formulated with polyols (sorbitol and maltitol syrup), low-calorie sweeteners 11.

Lehning’s communication states, “Made from 100% natural acacia gum, Swiss pastilles fulfill all daily needs, including soothing sore throats, relieving coughs, improving sleep, and addressing vitamin deficiencies.

The Mémé brand highlights the prebiotic properties of acacia gum as its star ingredient 12.

Mé-Mé’s communication  states, “Rich in fibre, acacia sap aids digestion and is recognised as a natural prebiotic and excellent anti-inflammatory. Mé-Mé gummies are highly recommended after meals or coffee.

BOTANI BRANDS: The Architect of Your Natural Solutions for the Development of Gummies and 2.0 Lozenges. The BOTANI BRANDS team guides and supports you in formulating acacia gum-based nutritional gummies that will attract users seeking effectiveness, sensory pleasure, and responsible consumption.


Sources :

  1. Dr. Aafi Abderrahman’s gum arabic
  2. Source UNCTAD: United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
  3. Acacia gum granted by FDA as dietary fiber
  4. Journal Food and Nutrition Sciences, Vol 13 No.4 (2022) : « Bongartz, U., Erlenbeck, C. and Wohlfahrt, I. (2022) The Effect of Gum Acacia on Post-Prandial Glucose and Insulin Levels in Healthy Subjects. Food and Nutrition Sciences, 13, 424-438. .
  5. Arch Oral Biol 2008 Mar;53(3):257-60. T Onishi 1, S Umemura, M Yanagawa, M Matsumura, Y Sasaki, T Ogasawara, T Ooshima : « Remineralization effects of gum arabic on caries-like enamel lesions »
  6. Nexira commitments
  7. Alland & Robert commitments
  10. Gum arabic and essential oil
  11. Pâtes suisses de Lehning
  12. Gummies Mémé à la gomme d’acacia

Soft chews: a new wave from the USA

The United States is the world’s leading consumer of vitamins and food supplements with a market posting over 50 billion dollars in the nutraceutical sector.1 Like gummies, many innovations are born across the Atlantic to then conquer European pharmacies. History seems to be repeating itself with the appearance of a new galenic in this health niche: soft chews, the newer version of gummies. This latest generation of chewing gum is conquering more and more brands, seduced by their sensory qualities and their high content of active ingredients.

Soft chews: an innovation in food supplements

These “tender bites” initially intended for the confectionery sector have finally established themselves as an innovative and fun galenic for food supplements. Like gummies, soft chews offer a pleasant healthy format enabling enhanced consumer sensation.

They come in the form of small 4-to-5-gram squares with generally a recommended daily intake of one or even two units.

While allowing the use of active ingredients such as vitamins, minerals or plant extracts, this galenic is also particularly interesting for its organoleptic aspect: taste, smell and texture (finally!) become essential parameters in nutraceuticals.

More attractive and pleasant than typically pharmaceutical formats such as capsules or tablets, soft chews call for better consumer compliance with treatments.

Self care applications

In parallel with gummies, soft chews therefore embody a new trend in naturalin natural health products self-medication.

The American site iHerb, one of the most important platforms for online natural products sales, already has more than 1000 references.2

Dulcolax notably launched Dulcolax Soft chews composed of magnesium hydroxide (quantity of 1200mg per chew) intended to improve occasional constipation in Canada.3

The brand emphasizes mechanical and rapid effectiveness (“relief in 30 minutes”) of the natural health product on constipation and does not fail to highlight the nomadic and gustatory aspect of this solution: “With Dulcolax® Soft Chews, adults and kids (12+) have a tasty and convenient new way to get things moving.”

Moreover, the chewing induced by this form of chewing gum, is a major interest for formulations such as these, intended to accompany digestive disorders.

Science has long been interested in the impact of proper chewing on digestion, helping to reduce gastric reflux, bloating, flatulence, and stomach aches.4,5,6

So, why not offer pregnant women to chew soft chews to help them reduce potential pregnancy nausea? The Mega Food brand has thought of this with its Baby & Me 2 sachet of 30 naturally lemon-flavoured formulated soft chews made with ginger and organic honey.7

They are available and also respond to all the indications commonly found in nutraceuticals: immunity, energy, sleep, relaxation, hair, skin, memory and digestion…

The Dutch brand Celebrate has chosen to bet on this differentiating galenic with a range of single ingredient (iron or calcium) or multivitamin soft chews.8

Actives ingredients and sensory qualities of soft chews

In addition to their taste input, soft chews enable incorporating a large quantity of active ingredients. Dulcolax chews are a good example with 1200mg of magnesium oxide per unit.

While standard size gummies contain an average of 70 to 80 mg of active ingredients, they do not face the same capacity limitations as former versions.

The number of intakes per day is therefore reduced, thus facilitating the following of the treatment by the consumer.

From a technical point of view, this galenic allows formulators to consider numerous combinations and synergies of active ingredients without space constraints.

Developed without gelatin, soft chews are ready to be certified vegan friendly and contribute in this sense to a reasoned, healthy, and natural diet that is increasingly popular with consumers.

In addition to their functional benefits for the body, soft chews have many advantages in terms of their texture, taste, and appearance.

In addition to other classic galenic forms, these “soft pastes” are popular in terms of dosage and taste pleasure.

It is a safe bet that this galenic offers broad prospects for development in Europe in the wake of its American boom.

In order to position you at the heart of this new trend, Botani Brands supports you in designing your soft chews thanks to its relevant and effective approach to the formulation of natural ingredients.


Sources :

  5. Esther H-J Kim et al. Chewing differences in consumers affect the digestion and colonic fermentation outcomes: in vitro studies. Food & Function journal. 2022 Sep 22;13(18):9355-9371.
  6. Mercier P., & Poitras, P.. Gastrointestinal symptoms and masticatory dysfunction. Journal of gastroenterology and hepatology, 7(1), 61-65. (1992)

Our references

2023 Botani Brands