Argan oil is produced from the kernels of the argan tree which is widely grown in Morocco. The scientific name of argan is argania spinosa and this tree is found in few other parts of the world also. Even though it is found in other parts of the world, this tree is common to the North African nation and the oil extracted has been in use throughout the world until recently. In Morocco, argan oil is used to drizzle over food somewhat like the use of olive oil. Recent studies have shown that there are many other health benefits for this oil and the export of the oil have really taken off. The fruit is a hard shelled nut surrounded by the argan fruit pulp and the oil is extracted from 1/3 kernels found in the nut. The fruit of the argan tree is small and round, oval or conical and thick peel covers the fleshy pulp. The nut inside the fruit represents about 25% of the weight of the full fruit.
Extraction of the oil is the main to the production process. The fruit is dried manually in open air and then the pulp is removed to extract the kernels. There are some producers who remove the flesh mechanically without drying the fruit. The flesh is used as animal feed by the people in Morocco. In some areas of Morocco there is a tradition of allowing goats to climb argan trees to feed freely on the fruits of the tree. The kernels of the argan are then retrieved from the goat droppings. This method reduces the labour involved and the producer can save a bit on the production cost. The kernels are then taken after cracking the argan nut and since it is done manually it is a time consuming and labour intensive process. Since the mechanisation of the job is unsuccessful this process is still done by hand and mostly by Berber women. The kernels taken for making eatable kernel oils is roasted gently and once the kernels cool down and the kernels are ground and pressed later. By pressing the kernel the brown coloured mash forces out pure unfiltered argan oil. The unfiltered argan oil is stored in vessels and the remaining protein rich press cake is used as cattle feed. Cosmetic argan oil is also made in the similar way but the kernels are not roasted in this case to avoid the pungent nutty scent. The oil stored in vessels is left to rest for two weeks and the solid left in the argan is allowed to settle in the bottom of the vessel. The clear part of the oil is filtered depending on the clarity and purity and the pure argan oil may still contain some sediments.
The argan tree is an environment friendly tree which provides food, shelter and protection from desertification. The root of the tree grows deep into the sand and prevents desert encroachment. The canopy of the argan tree provides shade for other agricultural products and the leaves and fruit provide feed for animals. The tree is also used for landscape stability and plays an important part in preventing soil erosion, providing shade for pasture grasses and helping refill aquifers. Since the demand of the argan oil has gone up there has been considerable reduction in the cutting down of argan trees and since people realised the importance of the argan tree there has been mass planting operation of the tree in Meskala in the province of Essaouira. The production of the argan oil has always had a socioeconomic function and the production of the oil support more than 2.2 million people. Most of the production of the argan oil is done by women’s co-operatives, co-sponsored by the Social Development Agency with the support of European Union.
There are many important health benefits for the argan oil which include its ability to speed wound healing, slow aging, moisturising the skin, lowering cholesterol, treating cancer, boosts digestion, improve hair health, guarding of liver, controlling diabetes, strengthening nails and enhancing heart health. The oil is widely used for culinary purposes and also as ingredient for cosmetics. The oil is widely used in sauces, couscous and salads. The pulp of Argan is made into a paste and spread on desserts and bread like how people use peanut butter. The oil can also be used directly on the skin for certain health conditions and can be used mixed with other creams, carrier oils and salves. Argan oil can be used directly on the hair and argan is one of the oils which can be used internally and topically without much problem. Since the resources of the oil is limited to only Morocco the price of the oil in the world market is a bit high. Moroccan government is planning to increase the production of the oil to meet the demand which is increasing day by day.
The health benefits of Argan oil are many. The most popular use is the function of argan oil is as a skin treatment. The oil contains triterpenoids is an important ingredient in the oil which in combination with other organic compound can get rid of the appearance of age spots and scars. It can even affect the severity of acne and dermatitis and in case of timorous skin cells the volatile compound of argan oil can decrease them and keep the skin feel and look young. The oil can maintain the skin elasticity and can prevent the typical symptoms of aging which reduces the chances of premature aging.
The argan oil works as protection against UV rays which can have many negative effects on the skin, nails and hair. By applying the oil you confidently go out in the sun and keep the clarity of the skin intact. The compounds founds in argan oil not only protect the skin from premature aging process but also contribute to treatment of skin cancers. It regenerates the cells and increases the overall health. Argan oil is good and healthier option in place of your regular cooking oil because it helps to rebalance your cholesterol levels. It helps to lower the bad cholesterol levels and increase the HDL cholesterol levels. Lowering cholesterol levels helps you to prevent atherosclerosis, strokes, heart attacks and other serious heart problems caused due to cholesterol. Argan oil has many antioxidants and triterpenoids which reduce the levels of free radicals in the body. The free radicals are the ones which causes cancer and other serious diseases by causing healthy cells to mutate. The studies so far talks about prostate cancer and bladder cancer but the overall anti-inflammable properties of the oil help reduce tumours and other cancerous growth in the body.
Argan oil improves digestion in the body through the organic compounds available in the oil. The organic compounds present in the oil increases the pepsin level in the stomach and also enhances the gastric juices resulting in efficiency in digestion of food and high nutrient intake. This oil is the perfect one for people with disorders of the stomach or poor functioning of the gastric system. Argan oil is the best for hair especially if you suffer from split ends. Applying argan oil straight to the hair provides quick and effective remedy and with thick hair growth provides you improvement in your appearance. The vitamin E present in argan oil rejuvenates the hair and protects the follicle beds and improves the overall appearance and provides the perfect sheen for your hair.
Argan oil improves the quality of your nails with its antibacterial qualities. It protects the nail beds from a wide range of infections and improves the appearance and colour of the nails. The unhealthy nails not so attractive to look at and it also attracts different types bacteria and fungus and brings in different types of infections on the nails. Argan oil improves the liver health with its hepatoprotective properties. You can improve the health of the liver by adding a bit of argan oil in your meals. The liver is one of the most delicate and important organs in the body. You need a healthy liver to lead a perfect life and the toxins in the liver needs to be flushed out to make the liver healthy. The argan oil boosts the liver and flushes out all the toxins from the liver.
By applying argan oil directly or blend with some carrier oil you can speed up the healing of a wound or abrasion. It prevents any type of infection on the wound and speed up the healing. By consuming the oil internally you can help the wound to heal faster but it is more effective if the oil applied directly on the wound or abrasion. There isn’t any known or common side effect by using argan oil but there are some cases of allergic reactions reported in the form of rashes and rare case of anaphylaxis. It is always better to consult a medical professional before adding any herbal remedy to your health treatment and it is better to buy the product from reputed sources or trained herbalist.