Argan Oil - Ingredients, Effects and Application

Argan Oil
Argan Fruit

Argan oil is one of the most valuable vegetable oils. The unique combination of antioxidants and essential fatty acids is the basis for the "Gold of Morocco" and its worldwide fame. Argan oil protects the body at a cellular level because of its high content of vitamin E. Whether natural cosmetics manufacturer or gourmet chef, they all are enthusiastic about Argan oil and its natural ingredients that come from the seeds of the argan tree (argan nut). This so-called "tree of life" is protected by UNESCO since 1998 and an important component of Berber culture in Morocco. In addition, it will always be a powerful asset to beauty-and health-conscious people everywhere.

Argan Oil & its Effect on the Organism

Argan oil contains almost 80 percent unsaturated fatty acids, which play a vital role in keeping cells intact and ultimately build hair and skin. These valuable fats moisturize the human cells without blocking the body's own moisture mechanisms. One of the oils most effective fatty acids is linoleic acid. It is diunsaturated and belongs to the omega-6 group. Linoleic acid also supports the bodily functions as well as the intestinal mucosa and reduces inflammation. It provides vitality and elasticity to hair and skin, in addition it builds a protective barrier to prevent it from drying out and from damaging environmental influences. That way, the linoleic acid prevents hair breakage and wrinkles.
Phytosterols also have an effective care effect. These biochemically active substances are responsible for moisture retention within the cells as well as for an active skin metabolism. Other important components of Argan oil are triterpenoids, which render outstanding services to the human body in multiple ways. They maintain the health of gall, heart, and liver, they also neutralize cancer-promoting substances, successfully fight viruses and might eventually even be positively active against HIV.

Furthermore, triterpenoids help repair damaged tissue and scars. They also have antiseptic properties and offer a natural skin protection from the sun. Various skin diseases such as psoriasis, chicken pox and acne, dry eczema and rashes can be reduced by means of triterpenoids. Pregnant women can prevent unloved stretch marks by regularly using Argan oil skin care products.

Argan Oil for Skin & Hair

Argan oil is a great source of vitamin E. Vitamin E successfully fights harmful free radicals at the cellular level, as a result, the resilience and vitality of hair and skin is maintained. For precisely these reasons, vitamin E is often added to body-boosting shampoos and skin creams. The growth and volume of hair are likely to be significantly improved. Applied externally, the vitamin E contained in Argan oil may support the regeneration of scarred and sunburned skin intensively.

A special form of this vitamin are tocopherols. These antioxidants can neutralize skin damage caused by harmful free radicals. This is of particular interest with regard to increasing environmental pollution. Carotenoids will provide the skin with a much fresher and more youthful appearance. As natural antioxidants they also tighten the tissue, while generating a protection from UV rays.
Saponins do have a cooling effect on the skin, additionally, they reduce wrinkles and relieve any inflammation by building up a hydro-lipid film. Using this very thin layer, the suppleness of the respective skin surface is guaranteed, while also providing it with antimicrobial protection.

The extremely high proportion of polyphenols completes the intensive care repertoire of Argan oil. These plant antioxidants, which promote the production of healthy cells, protect against inflammation and disarm free radicals. Polyphenols are true masters of rejuvenation and keep the skin elastic and supple.

Argan Oil & its Diversity

Due to its unsaturated and high-quality fatty acids and its nutty taste, Argan oil is known as a gourmet cooking oil, even in the western parts of the world. The cosmetics industry, in turn, focuses on its moisturizing ingredients and uses it in a wide range of care products for dry, stressed and wrinkled skin. Even for the treatment of psoriasis, eczema and neurodermatitis Argan oil may yield satisfactory results.

However, the valuable ingredients of Argan oil are in great demand not only in cosmetics or in the kitchen. In Morocco, it has always been used as a traditional remedy. It contains almost twice as much vitamin E as olive oil and is also rich in antioxidants. The fatty acids of Argan oil also contain eight essential fatty acids such as oleic and linoleic acid and are eighty percent unsaturated. Argan oil also contains rare plant sterols, which cannot be found in any other oil. They have immense anti-inflammatory properties, positively influencing arthritic and rheumatic complaints.

Argan Oil – Ideal Cure

With these said special properties, not only the cells of the hair and skin, but the entire organism can be supported in a positive way. Furthermore, Argan oil – compared to commercially available vegetable oils – impresses with a unique combination of spinasterol and schottenol. Such phytosterols can be extremely effective in the treatment of inflammatory diseases like arthritis. Argan oil also acts as a natural cholesterol-lowering remedy, since its phytosterols regulate the bowel. They also stimulate circulation and support the immune system (for strengthening the immune system black cumin oil is also to be recommended). By increasing the pepsins (digestive enzymes) of the gastric juice, overall digestion is improved. In addition to its qualities as a health elixir and care product, Argan oil has an aphrodisiac effect.

The Source of Argan Oil: The Argan Tree

For centuries, Moroccan Berber women have been nourishing their hair and nails as well as their skin with Argan oil. The argan tree (Argania spinosa) provides the seeds for the valuable oil. It can survive nearly 450 years, making it one of the oldest trees in the world. Since the argan trees occur only in southwestern Morocco and to the edges of the Atlas Mountains, this area is protected by UNESCO. Due to its extreme resilience, the argan tree was given the additional name "tree of life".

Because of their uniqueness, the 20 million argan trees growing on an area of about 820,000 hectares were placed under protection in 1998 as a Biosphere Reserve. With its root system reaching almost 30 meters deep into the earth, it can withstand extremely dry climatic conditions and simultaneously feed sheep and goats as well as camels with its nutrient-rich fruits and leaves. For the regional Berber families, the argan tree is an extremely important part within their cultural life because they use the oil of the tree since time immemorial.

Argan Oil – Extraction and Production

The fleshy, olive-like fruits of this plant cannot be enjoyed right away. However, the seeds that are hidden inside of the argan tree contain the extremely valuable oil. According to ancient tradition, the seeds are collected by Berber women and then pressed for further use. Due to the extremely hard pericarp, manually pressing the oil means a lot of effort, it takes about 20 hours to recover a liter of oil. The Moroccan Berber women who have dedicated themselves to this complex task are commendably organized in cooperatives and support the entire family by producing Argan oil. They are well-versed because of their experience in processing amygdala. This very elaborate extraction and production of Argan oil as well as the importance of its valuable ingredients justify the much higher price compared to a high-quality olive oil.

For oil production, the fruits are gathered from the ground from July to September. They cannot be picked directly from the argan tree because of its extreme thorns. The fruit yield is then dried by the sun and stored carefully. Thus, all fruits remain durable for almost five years and may then be further processed, if required. Pressing can be done traditionally by hand labor or machine. Machine processing has the advantage that it will yield more revenue. In addition to a significant loss of quality in the oil when pressed mechanically, however, this processing method threatens to replace the Berber women as the sole suppliers of the raw material.

Argan Oil and its Original Hand Pressing

The dried pulp and the pericarp of the fruit is then crushed by the skilled hands of the Berber women between stones, to get at the seeds. The pulp is later used as animal feed. Afterwards, the core shell must be cracked by crushing it, so that the inner almond can be processed into Argan oil. Each core contains about three almonds, which have approximately the size of sunflower seeds. In order to produce virgin Argan oil, the almond kernels are further processed immediately. The distinctive, nutty flavor of the oil is produced by roasting the nuts over an open fire.

The longer this process takes, the stronger the flavor of the oil. For this reason, many different flavors of Argan oil exist. Once the almonds cooled, they are ground by hand by a stone mill. This creates a pulpy mass, which is kneaded and then mixed with lukewarm water. This procedure frees the Argan oil, which is bottled in suitable bottles and vessels. The remnants of the mass will also find their appropriate reuse as animal feed.

Argan Oil – Priced in the Upper Segment

The high price level of Argan oil is (in addition to its positive effects on the human organism) due to its very labor-intensive manufacturing, which is done by hand, anf the fact that the tree grows only in a very small area of Morocco. So far, the argan tree could not be colonized within other regions. Thus, only relatively small amounts of fruits are available, the harvest is extremely difficult, as only the fruits are used, which lie on the ground. An average argan tree, with an amount of about 30 kg of fruit, provides a relatively low yield which is sufficient only for just one liter of Argan oil.

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