Argan Oil: The Liquid Gold of Morocco
01/22/2012 | 03:05 PM
Argan oil has been used by women from the Berber tribes for centuries and is sometimes called Moroccan oil. As it has a range of culinary, medicinal and cosmetic uses, it is sometimes called liquid gold. It is obtained from the argan tree (Argan spinosa), which grows only in the southwest of Morocco. Argan oil is extracted from the seeds, producing a pale yellow oil with a nutty flavor. Most argan sold today is produced by a women's cooperative that shares the profits among the local Berber women. The cooperative has established a reforestation project to support the local ecosystem while providing employment to the estimated three million people who depend on its extraction.
Argan Oil – Remedies
- Fights diabetes: Argan oil protects against the metabolic changes associated with consuming a high-sugar diet, to reduce the risk on onset of diabetes. Studies show that the oil has an antiatherogenic effect (reduces blockages inside the walls of arteries) by improving lipids and can be part of a healthy diet for persons with Type Two diabetes.
- Protects against cancer: While more research is needed on its anti-cancer properties, a number of studies show that argan oil may prevent against cancer in two ways. Virgin argan oil is rich in tocopherols, sterols, and polyphenols which have an antioxidant effect. In addition, Tocopherols and saponins have been shown to have antiproliferative effects on prostate cancer cells.
- Protects skin and strengthens nails. Because of the high content of unsaturated fatty acids, even higher than butter, argan oil is ideal for face treatments or to hydrate your entire body. It rebuilds the physiological lipid film (protective layer of skin). Its antioxidant properties have been linked to anti-aging. If your nails are thin and soft, you can massage them with warm argan oil. It is emollient due to its vitamin E content.
- Eases digestion and stomach aches: Argan oil facilitates digestion by increasing the concentration of pepsin in the gastric juice. Pepsin is an enzyme that breaks down proteins and amino acids during digestion.
- Preventing bruising and scarring: Argan oil is quickly absorbed into the skin where it enhances the production of collagen fibers that help prevent scarring. After birth it is very useful for massaging the breasts and the belly to prevent sagging skin.
Argan Oil – How To Use
There are two types of argan oil. Cosmetic argan oil is extracted from raw seeds. Culinary argan oil is extracted from lightly roasted seeds. Culinary argan oil can be used for cooking and in salads. Cosmetic oil can be used on nails, face, body, and hair.
- Cooking: argan oil has a nutty flavor and can be used for coucous and tangines. "Amlou" a thick brown paste with a consistency similar to peanut butter is produced by stone grinding roasted almond and Argan oil and is a favorite bread dip in Morocco.
- Salads: argan oil has a warm nutty flavor and can be used in salad dressings or drizzled over bread.
- Hair: After washing, you can rub argan oil into the scalp with your fingertips or on any damaged or dry ends. It penetrates the hair strands and offers an intensive treatment for dandruff.
- Hands and nails: After washing your hands, you can use argan oil like a regular moisturizer. If your nails are thin and soft, you can massage them with warm argan oil.
- Scars: You can apply argan oil to scars, acne scars, stretch marks and sunburn. Argan oil contains tocopherols (vitamin E) and phenols, which have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial and anti-viral qualities.
Argan Oil – Possible Side Effects
- Anaphylaxis. If you are susceptible to anaphylactic shock, it is possible that you will also have an allergic reaction to argan oil.
- Irritations. Argan oil has antimicrobial and antiviral qualities and is used for to lighten and smooth scars. However, it been known to irritate existing skin conditions. Talk to your dermatologist if concerned.
- Acne. In some cases, argan oil worsened existing acne. This usually happens because too much argan oil applied on the face, stopping the pores from breathing.
Argan oil is rich in vitamin E and anti-oxidants. It is sometimes called liquid gold because of its range of medical and culinary uses. It can help with managing diabetes, ease stomach pains and digestive issues, prevents bruising and scaring, and help protect against cancer. It has been used as a moisturizer by the women of the Berber tribes for centuries, and today this treatment is becoming increasingly popular in the west. Because it is produced by women working in local cooperatives and is labor intensive to produce, the oil can be more expensive than olive, peanut or other oils.
1) Zoubida Charrouf & Dominique Guillaume, Secondary metabolites from Argania spinosa (L.) Skeels, Phytochemistry Reviews, 2002; 1: 345-354.
2) A. Drissi, Ph.D.,1 H. Bennani, Ph.D.,1 F. Giton, M.Sc. et al. Tocopherols and Saponins Derived from Argania spinosa Exert, an Antiproliferative
Effect on Human Prostate Cancer. Cancer Investigation 2006, 24:588–592
3) Isabelle Stussi, Florence Henry, Philippe Moser et al. Argania spinosa, How ecological farming, fair trade and sustainability can drive the research for new cosmetic active ingredients. Household and Personal Care Today. Supplement to chimica oggi/Chemistry Today; 59-62.
4) Charrouf Z, Guillaume D. Ethnoeconomical, ethnomedical, and phytochemical study of Argania spinosa (L.) Skeels. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 1999; 67(1):7-14.
5) M. M. Ould Mohamedou,1 K. Zouirech,1 M. El Messal, et al. Argan Oil Exerts an Antiatherogenic Effect by Improving Lipids and Susceptibility of LDL to Oxidation in Type 2 Diabetes Patients, International Journal of Endocrinology 2011.
6) Pullan RD, Rhodes J, Ganesh S, et al. Transdermal nicotine for active ulcerative colitis. N Engl J Med 1994;330:811–5.