Argan or Argania spinosa is a species of tree native to the Southwestern parts of Morocco and the Western Mediterranean regions. It produces a fruit that has a sweet aroma but is quite unpleasant to taste. The fruit encloses a hard nut that contains one or many oil rich seeds. These seeds are popular as the source of argan oil. Availability of Argan oil is limited to the area of its production, and due to its increasing interest as cosmetic ingredient, it is also known as liquid gold. The seeds are first roasted and then ground into a fine paste with little water. The paste is then squeezed to extract the oil. Argan oil is rich in vitamin E and several unsaturated essential fatty acids, and is considered to be one of the best beauty enhancing products. Because of the various beauty benefits it offers, argan oil has become one of the absolute favorites of many cosmetic companies in Europe.
Nutritional value of argan oil
Argan oil is an excellent source of unsaturated fatty acids like oleic acid, alpha-linolenic acid, palmitic acid, linoleic acid, myristic acid and stearidonic acid. It also contains good amounts of vitamin E, sterols, tocopherols, phenols (catechol, caffeic acid, oleuropein, resorcinol, tyrosol, vanillic acid, etc), squalene, carotene and omega 3, 6, 9 fatty acids.
Skin Benefits of argan oil
Pure argan oil has been proven to be beneficial for your skin, hair and whole body itself. When ingested, it helps in protecting you from a range of health conditions such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and inflammatory disorders. Topical application of this oil helps in healing wounds, scars and even stretch marks. Some of the common uses of argan oil are listed below:
Argan oil as a skin moisturizer
The most common use of argan oil is as a skin moisturizer to hydrate your skin and to make it smooth. The high vitamin E and fatty acid content in argan oil makes it extremely beneficial for the health of your skin. It can be used on your face, neck and even the whole body. It absorbs easily into the skin and does not leave your skin looking greasy.
Argan oil has anti-aging properties
Argan oil is an excellent source of antioxidants, which makes it a perfect anti-aging product. In addition to hydrating your skin, this oil can also help in getting rid of aging signs like wrinkles, fines line and dark spots, thereby giving your skin a youthful glow. Argan oil rejuvenates your skin and restores its elasticity, making it look smooth and supple. In order to reap the anti-aging benefits of argan oil, apply a few drops on the skin and massage it thoroughly before going to bed.
Argan oil for treating acne
Acne is a common skin condition caused due to excess oil and the accumulation of dirt and bacteria in the pores of the skin. While many oils can make this condition worse, argan oil is beneficial in soothing the affected area and in promoting faster healing. Moreover, it is rich in powerful anti-oxidants that help in healing the damaged cells of the skin and in reducing inflammation. Rubbing or massaging a few drops of argan oil on the skin can help in moisturizing your skin as well as in removing mild acne.
Argan oil against dry skin problems
Argan oil is a godsend for people suffering from dry skin disorders such as eczema and psoriasis. The high amounts of vitamin E and fatty acids in this oil moisturize the skin and help in repairing damaged skin. It also provides your skin with the nutrients that soothe skin and that are essential for preventing irritation and dryness. For getting relief from dry skin and to promote healing, apply a few drops of argan oil directly on to affected skin and massage it in gently.
Argan oil for healing damaged skin
The high levels of potent antioxidants in argan oil are found to be beneficial in healing cracked, irritated, or damaged skin. These compounds help in relieving pain, reducing inflammation and in speeding up the healing process. You just have to apply a few drops of the oil on the damaged skin and massage it gently so that it is absorbed into the skin.
Argan oil for stretch marks
Pregnant women often have to deal with stretch marks that take away the beauty of their skin. Argan oil is considered to be one of the best remedies for treating stretch marks and sagging skin. The active elements in this oil, such as vitamin E help in increasing the elasticity of skin making it look smooth and supple. Massaging a few drops of argan oil on to the skin, especially stomach and thighs during pregnancy will lower your chances of developing stretch marks.
Argan oil for beautiful and lustrous hair
Argan oil is a wonderful hair conditioner that helps in making hair soft, silky and smooth. It can be used to tame frizzy hair and to treat split ends. Argan oil makes your hair easily manageable and also imparts a beautiful shine and luster to any type of hair. Because of these properties, this oil is commonly used as a styling agent. Argan oil is rich in vitamin E, which is found to be extremely beneficial for the hair and scalp. This vitamin promotes healthy hair growth as it has antioxidant properties that help in stimulating the cells to produce healthy hair. It can also function as a moisturizer, thus preventing dry scalp and dandruff. Argan oil can even reverse some of the damages done to the hair through chemical treatments and the application of dyes. Argan oil is the ultimate product for the hair as it can be used in a multitude of ways such as shampoo, leave-in conditioner, styling agent, moisturizer, and hair mask.
Argan oil as a lip moisturizer
Rubbing a few drops of argan oil on the lips can help in preventing dry, cracked and sore lips, especially during the cold weather.
Argan oil for beautiful hands and feet
Massaging a few drops of argan oil into your hands and feet every day is a great way to keep them looking beautiful and attractive. Argan oil is an ideal solution for dry hands, brittle nails, and cracked feet. It helps in moisturizing and softening the skin, thereby leaving your hands and feet soft and supple. Argan oil keeps your nails healthy and strong and gives them a natural shiny appearance.
Health benefits of Argan oil
Studies indicate that argan oil can boost your health when taken internally. It has been considered to be effective for the treatment of many heath conditions. Some of the health benefits provided by this fantastic oil are listed below:
Argan oil eases digestion
Argan oil helps in digestion by increasing the amount of the enzyme, pepsin in the gastric juice. Pepsin is responsible for breaking down proteins and amino acids during the process of digestion.
Argan oil prevents cardiovascular diseases
Argan oil has been found to be beneficial in reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases. A study published in the 2004 issue of the British Journal of Nutrition, states that when rats were fed a diet containing argan oil, it helped in lowering blood pressure significantly. Several other studies show that the unsaturated fatty acids present in this oil is effective in regulating your blood cholesterol levels. The high levels of phenolic compounds in this oil help in lowering the bad cholesterol (LDL) levels and in raising the levels of good cholesterol (HDL). It also lowers the triglyceride levels, thus reducing the risks of atherosclerosis, heart diseases and stroke.
Argan oil for diabetics
In Morocco, argan oil is commonly used for treating diabetes. According to several studies, argan oil decreases insulin resistance, thus inhibiting the onset of diabetes. It was found that this oil helped in improving the cellular response to small doses of insulin. Another study states that argan oil was able to undo the metabolic changes that usually occur by consuming a diet high in sugar content. This helps in reducing the risk of developing diabetes.
Argan oil protects against cancer
Although more research is needed on the the anti-cancer properties of argan oil, a few studies indicate that it may be capable of fighting against cancer. This oil has been found to help in inhibiting the rate at which prostate cancer cells divide. Another study showed that the active elements of argan oil were able to prevent the growth and proliferation of prostate cancer cells. It also helped in reversing the harmful effects brought about by the carcinogens on prostate cells. Another reason for the anti-cancer properties of argan oil is the presence of high amounts of antioxidants in it. These antioxidants help in preventing cellular damage caused by free radicals, which can in due course of time lead to genetic mutations, causing cancer. Therefore incorporating argan oil in your daily diet can help in reducing your risk of developing cancer.
Argan oil has been long used by the people in Morocco and they have enjoyed many of the health benefits this oil offers.Because of its dense nutritional value, argan oil is gaining wide popularity as an ingredient in both beauty products as well as in gourmet products. Argan oil may be expensive and difficult to get, but the benefits that it can provide your body far outweigh its rarity and high price. Argan oil also has culinary uses. Amlou is dip made from argan oil, almonds, peanuts, honey and sugar. This dip is used along with bread, salads and couscous. In Morocco, it is also used as alternative to olive oil.Image Credits: Panoramio - Boumlik MESSAILI, Trekearth- Ori Fragman Sapir