Scientific Name: Argania spinosa
Common Name: argan, Moroccan ironwood, arganier (French), argane, arjane, liquid gold
History of Use
Argan oil has been used historically in Morocco as a dip to bread for breakfast or as a drizzle on pasta and couscous. The tree grows in a semi-dessert area of Morocco in a span of 200 years. It grows milky pulpy fruits which contain a nutty seed. Within the seed are up to three argan kernels which are the ones processed to yield this liquid gold of an argan oil (Drugs.com, n.d.).
Wild goats in the area of Morocco love this fruit and at some point, oils were extracted in the same manner as civet coffee is being made. To those not familiar in the process of civet coffee, the civet cat eats the coffee beans. In the process, the digestive enzymes in the digestive lining of the cat ferments the beans and gives them the distinct flavor. The seeds are then extracted from the cat’s droppings and goes through the processing for commercial consumption. Luckily for the argan, it does not need the digestive enzymes of the goat to enhance its flavor or improve its health benefits. As such, this step in the process can be eliminated.
The cold-pressed oil extracted from the lightly roasted kernels is used for cooking while the cold pressed oil obtained from non-roasted kernels is used for cosmetic purpose. To produce 1 liter of this rare oil, 30kg of kernels and 16 hours of work are needed. That explains its high cost (Luth, 2004). The oil is priced for both its culinary and cosmetic purposes. Applied topically, argan oil has been used to heal wounds and acne, moisturize and control oily secretions and prevent aging of skin. If you use pure argan oil, you only need a drop or two to nourish hair and skin all throughout the day. As something taken orally, it has been credited to protect against colorectal, breast, prostate, pancreas, and endometrial cancer as well as reduce sugar levels (Guillaume & Charrouf, 2011).
Argan oil contains significant content of tocopherols (Vitamin E), phenols, squalene, carotenes, phenols and polyunsaturated fatty acids. As such, consumption of virgin argan oil induces a lowering of LDL cholesterol and has antioxidant properties. This oil offers an additional natural food to reducing cardiovascular risk (Evidence of hypolipemiant and antioxidant properties of argan oil derived from the argan tree (Argania spinosa), 2004).
Gamma tocopherol makes up 75% of the total tocopherols in Argan oil. Alpha-Tocopherol and gamma-tocopherol are the two major forms of vitamin E in human plasma and the primary lipid soluble antioxidants. Research studies suggest that gammatocopherol could play a significant role in modulating intracellular antioxidant defense mechanisms. Because argan oil is rich in vitamin B, health-conscious consumers can raise their intake without taking in too much fat.
Compared to many other seasoning oils, argan oil contains relatively high contents of squalene (31Omg/lOOg), which is suggested to be protective against skin cancer. Due to its polyphenols and sterols, it is also suggested for prostate cancer prevention (Bennani, et al., 2007).
For centuries, Argan Oil has been credited to have beneficial effect on the skin. It has been reported that the oil is an effective melanin biosynthesis inhibitor (Villareal, et al., 2013). The chemical composition of argan oil makes it a very beneficial product as far as skin care is concerned. Its high content in vitamin E prevents wrinkles and delays aging. Furthermore, by stimulating cells oxygenation, argan oil restores the hydrophilic layer and skin cells thus making the skin more elastic, smooth and shiny. The rich composition of argan oil in unsaturated acids (79%) ensures a permanent skin hydration therefore moisturizing, revitalizing and nourishing it. That being said, it can be used topically and internally to improve conditions such as stretch marks, razor bumps and burns, cracked lips and any other skin issue related to lack of moisture and elasticity.
How to Get your Argan Oil On
Argan oil has a vibrantly nutty flavor with fruity overtones. The oil is highly appreciated in cooking, and gives a special taste to salads, vegetables, fishes and cooked meals. Although argan oil should not be used for prolonged frying, it is appropriate for short-time frying.
You may also add pure virgin argan oil to your diet with our Edible Virgin Argan Oil in softgel form . Each softgel delivers 500mg of pure Moroccan virgin argan oil!
Therapeutic doses to prevent metabolic diseases range from 15-30 g (1-2 tablespoons) uncooked argan oil per day, with maintenance dosing of 3-6 g daily.
Who Should Not Take Argan Oil
There has been very few documented allergic reaction to the oil. For those with pre-existing medical conditions, it is still best to consult with your doctor.
Bennani, H., Drissi, A., Gito, F., Kheuang, L., Fiet, J., & Adlouni, A. (2007). Antiproliferative effect of polyphenols and sterols of virgin argan oil on human prostate cancer cell lines. Cancer Epidemiology, 31(1), 64-69. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cdp.2006.09.006
Drugs.com. (n.d.). Retrieved July 26, 2015, from Drug.com Web site: http://www.drugs.com/npp/argania.html
Evidence of hypolipemiant and antioxidant properties of argan oil derived from the argan tree (Argania spinosa). (2004, October). Clinical Nutrition , 23(5), 953-1252. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.clnu.2004.03.003
Guillaume, D., & Charrouf, Z. (2011). Argan Oil. Alternative Medicine Review, 16(3), 275-279. Retrieved July 27, 2015, from http://www.altmedrev.com/publications/16/3/275.pdf
Luth, D. (2004, December). Argan Oil: Implications as a Geographical Indication. Retrieved July 27, 2015, from American Edu Web site: http://www1.american.edu/ted/argan-oil.htm
Villareal, M. O., Kume, S., Bourhim, T., Bakhtaoui, F. Z., Kashiwagi, K., Han, J., . . . Isoda, H. (2013, July 8). Activation of MITF by Argan Oil Leads to the Inhibition of the Tyrosinase and Dopachrome Tautomerase Expressions in B16 Murine Melanoma Cells. (M. F. Mahomoodally, Ed.) Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2013. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/340107