Benefits Of Argan (Argania Spinosa) For Health

Benefits Of Argan (Argania Spinosa) For Health

Argan (Argania Spinosa) tree

Argan (Argania Spinosa) is known as other name: Argan, Argania, Moroccan Ironwood...

A flowering plant genus, Argania comprises just one species called Argania spinosa. Also called argan, the Argania spinosa tree is found growing abundantly in Sous valley, a calcareous semi-desert, located in the south-western regions of Morocco. This tree is also native to Tindouf in Algeria close to the western areas of the Mediterranean.

Benefits Of Argan (Argania Spinosa) For Health
Argan (Argania Spinosa) Picture

It has been seen that argan trees can grow up to a height of anything between 8 meters (24 feet) and 10 meters (40 feet) in favourable conditions and some of them may live up to 200 years. The root system of argan trees may grow to a significant depth, which aids in preventing soil erosion as well as restrain the Sahara Desert from encroaching newer areas.

The flowers of argan tree are of hermaphrodite (have both male and female reproductive parts) by nature and they bloom either in May or June. Usually the blooms are greenish yellow, but sometimes they may also be white. The flowers give way to fruits, which are an oval-shaped berry. The fruit of argan tree is similar to a large olive in size and shape. The fruit encloses one nut and a couple of seeds.

Argan or Argania trees are densely branched forming canopies of the shape of an umbrella. The leaves are deep green and shaped like a lance. As mentioned earlier, the flowers have a greenish yellow color. The fruits are oval-shaped having a yellowish green color with a thick skin. The fruits enclose a milky pulp that encircles the nut with a hard shell.

These shrub-like trees are cultivated for their fruits that enclose large seeds. The seeds of argan enclose very valuable oil, which is similar to olive oil and its fat content is also equivalent to that of olive oil.

The fruits of the trees growing in the wild are usually eaten by goats and other rummaging animals. After they consume the fruits, these animals excrete the hard-shelled seeds, which are collected by locals and, subsequently, pressed to obtain the esteemed argan oil. It is interesting to note that argan oil is often marketed at a price 10 times more than that of olive oil.

The argan tree has a vital role in the heritage of Morocco, particularly in the lives of people inhabiting the country’s south-western regions. It is also important in the lives of people in the Souss-Massa-Draa region, the Atlas Mountains and Agadir. Earlier, some 10 years back, the argan tree played a vital role in the lives of people belonging to the Berber community. Till recently, the oil extracted from the argan seed kernel was among the most preferred elements of the health supplement producing industry. Argan trees are only found growing in the regions mentioned above and not in any other place across the globe. In fact, there have been several efforts to cultivate argan trees in other parts of the world in the past, but all of them failed to be fruitful.

While a number of reports claim that the argan trees survive up to 150 years and more, there are others that assert that these trees usually have a life span of about 500 years. According to available documents, argan trees have been in existence since 25,000,000 years back and there was a time when these shrub-like trees had a dense growth in North America. Although less in number, argan trees are still found in North America and the place where they grow is called the "Argania Forest", which covers roughly 900,000 hectares. It is worth mentioning here that over one-third of this argan forest has disappeared during the last 50 years owing to clearing of the woodlands for firewood as well as make way for agricultural lands.

Benefits Of Argan (Argania Spinosa) For Health
Argan (Argania Spinosa) Fruit Picture

As the argan trees only grow in Morocco in the region of the Mediterranean, most people in other parts of the world are not familiar with this shrubby tree. Precisely speaking, argan only grow in an area of about 700,000 hectares to 800,000 hectares in southwest Morocco between the regions Agadir and Essaouira. However, as many as 21 million trees grow in this area and these trees have an important role in the environment as well as the food chain in the region. Unfortunately, the number of these trees is dwindling with the passing of each day.

Argan Oil Nutrition

Argan oil is very high in omega-6 fatty acids and linoleic acid which can provide anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, antioxidant and moisturizing properties for the skin.

It also contains omega-9 unsaturated fatty acids and vitamin A which provide high doses of antioxidants.

This oil also contains 620mg of trocopeherols which have the same activity as vitamin E. This is twice the amount of this chemical compared to the more common olive oil.

The trocopherol content of argan oil makes it a powerful antioxidant that can help to protect soft tissue by neutralizing the effects of free radicals.

Traditional Uses of Morocco’s Golden Oil

In Morocco, the only place where the Argan tree is naturally found, the oil’s amazing curative properties have been revered for centuries. In the southern regions of the country, pure Argan oil is celebrated for everything from soothing skin redness to curing rheumatism and more.

Traditionally, Argan oil has been used topically to:

  • Protect against and heal skin infections
  • Clear up acne
  • Ease eczema
  • Hasten recovery from chicken pox
  • Heal cracks and burns

Benefits Of Argan (Argania Spinosa) For Health
Argan (Argania Spinosa) Oil 

Benefits Of Argan (Argania Spinosa) Oil For Health

People in some regions of Morocco use argan as a substitute for olive - especially members of the Berber society use the tree as a source of oil, forage, timber as well as fuel. Interestingly, in the region near Essaouira, goats often climb the argan tree to feed on its leaves and fruits.

Benefits Of Argan (Argania Spinosa) in Medicinal Properties

Argan oil contains rare plant sterols (schottenol and spinasterol), not found in other oils. It is believed that these phytosterols are unique in their combination and that there are no other vegetable oils with a comparable phytosterol composition. In general phytosterols reduce inflammation and help block cholesterol absorption from the intestines.

Argan oil facilitates digestion by increasing the concentration of pepsin in the gastric juice. It contains flavonoids that act as a natural anti-inflammatory both internally and externally.

The oil is considered highly beneficial for arthritic or rheumatic conditions.

Argan oil is helpful for lowering cholesterol levels, stimulating circulation and strengthening the body`s natural immunity.

Argan oil is used to soothe skin ailments like chickenpox, acne, psoriasis, and dry eczema. It is also used to prevent stretch marks during pregnancy.

Benefits Of Argan (Argania Spinosa) Oil for Healing and Protecting

Argan oil is obtained by pressing the kernels of argan. This oil is only indigenous to the south-western region of Morocco. Argan oil is said to be hydrating oil that encloses essential fatty acids, counting omega oils oleic acid and linoleic acid, and tocopherol (a form of vitamin E), a very potent antioxidant. The elements contained by argan oil work to soften the skin, attract moisture as well as keep the skin hydrated. In addition, this oil also possesses powerful anti-inflammatory attributes. In fact, argan oil is used in a number of cosmetics as well as personal care products in the form of an emollient. It is a common ingredient of many facial moisturizers, lipsticks, sunscreens, eye creams, mascaras and blush.

You can also use argan oil individually to treat acne, scars, keep the skin wrinkle-free, as a moisturizer to hydrate the face and body and also in the form of a cuticle moisturizer. In addition, it can be used for anti-frizz hair therapy and treat stretch marks.

Benefits Of Argan (Argania Spinosa) Oil for Anti-aging

Argan is considered an effective anti-aging oil due to properties such as the high levels of vitamin E /tocopherols (anti-oxidants help neutralise free radical damage, which is important for skin exposed to polluted Western environments) and saponins (skin-softening agents). Besides cooling and soothing inflammation, it is also reputed to help reduce wrinkles by restoring the skin`s hydro-lipid layer.

Benefits Of Argan (Argania Spinosa) Oil for the Hair

Applying argan oil to the hair can make it look healthier by preventing frizz and split ends. It can make the hair look shinier and eliminate limp tresses by hydrating the roots and strengthening the hair, making your hair more manageable. This can help to reduce the risk that outdoor activities or styling will break or damage the strands of hair. Argan oil provides a high dose of fatty acids that can make brittle hair stronger and improve the protein structures without adding a sticky, oily component to the hair.

Benefits Of Argan (Argania Spinosa) Oil for Cancer

Argan oil has been shown to decrease the rate of cell division of prostate cancer. A 2006 study in Cancer Investigation reported that components of argan oil were able to slow the growth of several types of prostate cancer cells. Exposure to components of argan oil was also able to reverse the cancerous effect of carcinogens on prostate cells. Virgin argan oil is also rich in antioxidants, so it may protect against other forms of cancer. Antioxidants help repair cellular damage, which can accumulate and lead to genetics mutations in cancer. Incorporating argan oil into your diet can help reduce your risk of cancer, and provide a number of other health benefits associated with antioxidants.

Benefits Of Argan (Argania Spinosa) Oil for Insulin Resistance and Diabetes

Argan oil is commonly used as a treatment for diabetes in Morocco. Studies have found that argan oil decreases insulin resistance, an initiating step in the development of diabetes. In a 2006 study, Dr. Haddad reported that argan oil enhanced the cellular response to low doses of insulin, a process that gets disrupted in diabetes. According to a 2009 study published in Metabolism, consumption of argan oil also reversed the metabolic changes associated with consuming a high-sugar diet, to reduce the risk on onset of diabetes. Overall, argan oil can reduce the harmful effects of a carbohydrate-rich diet, and protect against insulin resistance to fight diabetes and help keep you healthy.

Argan (Argania Spinosa) Oil Side effects and cautions

In fact, it's recommended for people with skin sensitivities and irritations to common skin care products. There are no known wide spread side effects with argan oil, but if you have specific concerns regarding argan, it's best to speak with your physician.

Benefits Of Argan (Argania Spinosa) For Health
Argan (Argania Spinosa) oil Picture

Make sure you purchase pure argan oil products. Impure oil could cause allergic reactions when used externally. Perform a skin test (especially if you have sensitive skin) to ensure that your skin does not react adversely to argan oil. While argan oil is generally safe for all skin types, in rare cases, people could develop an allergic reaction. In such cases, you must discontinue using the product at once.

It is important to note that many natural skin care remedies that contain argan oil may not have sufficient side effects of argan oilquantities of the ingredient to really benefit you. If, for example you purchase a 2 ounce bottle and it contains only 1-2 drops of argan oil, this trace amount is insufficient to offer any benefit. This is why experts recommend you ensure the product you purchase says 100% pure argan oil. Antioxidants usually prevent signs of aging or wrinkles. They cannot get rid of already existing wrinkles. So, check the claims made by any argan oil products before purchasing them.