Argan oil - a precious elixir of nature

Argan oil, also known as argania oil, is one of the rarest and most valuable oils in the world. This exceptional oil is extracted from the fruit of the argan tree (Argania spinosa) and has always been valued for its many healing properties.

Scientific studies have now confirmed the numerous positive effects of argan oil. The first of these studies was conducted in 2010 among the Amazigh, an ethnic group that traditionally uses argan oil in their cuisine and for cosmetic purposes. In this article, you will learn everything you need to know about argan oil.

Origin of argan oil

The uniqueness of argan oil begins with its place of origin, which is called Arganeraie. This area, where the argan tree thrives, is located exclusively in the southwest of Morocco in North Africa. In 1998, UNESCO declared the Arganeraie a biosphere reserve in order to protect the traditional cultivation by the indigenous Berber ethnic group and the original production of argan oil. The Berbers, also known as Amazigh, are semi-nomadic and their Arabic name means "free". In 2014, the use of the argan tree and the Amazigh's centuries-old practices associated with it were declared an intangible cultural heritage of humanity.

Traditional oil extraction

The traditional extraction of argan oil is still done manually, as it has been practiced for hundreds of years. The dried fruits fall from the trees and are collected by the Amazigh women. The argan trees themselves have dense branches and thorns, making it impossible to harvest the fruit in any other way in the past. The further steps in the oil extraction process are also carried out in the traditional way, mainly by women. The collected fruit is transported home or to the agadirs, the castle-like storage buildings of the Berber tribes.

During processing, the pulp is removed from the fruit and the inferior kernels are sorted out. The remaining healthy kernels are broken up with stones, the seeds are roasted and then ground by hand in mills. Boiled water is added to the flour to make a paste. This pulp is stirred until the valuable argan oil finally comes out in small rivulets. Extracting just one liter of argan oil requires at least two days of work and around 30 kilograms of fruit, which is equivalent to harvesting around four to five trees.

Modern production

In view of the increasing demand, the modern production of argan oil is now largely carried out using pressing machines. Shaking machines are also occasionally used during harvesting. Although the technology is more advanced, production is still laborious and resource-intensive, which explains the comparatively high price of the oil. The Amazigh women have organized themselves into cooperatives, such as the Union des Coopératives des femmes de l'Arganeraie, in order to market their work and secure their livelihood. Today, around 6,000 people live in the villages in south-western Morocco thanks to the sale of argan oil.

The health benefits of argan oil

Argan oil offers numerous positive properties and has a wide range of applications that inspire chefs as well as health and beauty experts. Argan oil is also used as a remedy, especially for skin problems, digestive complaints, cardiovascular diseases and more. Interestingly, there are no known side effects and various studies have confirmed this. Argan oil is well tolerated, even by sensitive individuals, and overdosing is virtually impossible. Due to its comparatively high price, it is usually used sparingly and should be stored in a cool place to ensure its shelf life of up to 18 months.

Ingredients and effects

Argan oil is characterized by a delicate, nutty, smoky and musky taste. It can be used in the kitchen and as a skin, hair and hand care product. The composition of argan oil can vary as it is a natural product.

Argan oil contains:

  • About 20 percent saturated fatty acids, which promote digestion and cell metabolism.
  • Around 80 percent monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are vital for humans as the body does not produce them itself.
  • Tocopherols, active substances of vitamin E, which have an antioxidant effect and protect against free radicals.
  • Phytosterols, plant sterols that reduce cholesterol formation.
  • Oleic and linoleic acid, essential nutrients with anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Provitamin A (beta-carotene), a precursor of vitamin A, which acts as an antioxidant.
  • Triterpene alcohols, which have an antimicrobial effect.
  • Ferulic acid, which absorbs UV light and has an antioxidant effect.

Nutritional information on argan oil

The nutritional value of argan oil varies, but is estimated to be around 800 to 900 kilocalories per 100 millilitres, which is quite high compared to other oils. However, argan oil is used sparingly in food processing.

Areas of application for argan oil

Argan oil has an extremely wide range of applications. It has positive effects on the skin, hair and nails and is used for both beauty care and medicinal purposes. Here are some of the applications:

Positive effect on the skin:

  • Protects the skin from drying out
  • Support for cellulite
  • Treatment of hormonal skin changes
  • Skin tightening and anti-ageing effect
  • Improvement of the complexion
  • Relief from dryness and stretch marks

Effectiveness for the hair:

  • Protection against hair breakage
  • Improvement of hair elasticity and resilience
  • Acceleration of hair growth
  • Prevention of hair loss
  • Soothes the scalp and prevents dandruff

Argan oil for hands, feet and nails:

  • Care for stressed hands and feet
  • Support for nail care and prevention of nail fungus

Argan oil as a dental care product:

  • Support for the regeneration of gums
  • Soothing of sensitive gums

Further applications: Argan oil in the kitchen

  • Refining food and cooking
  • Support for digestion and metabolism
  • Lowering the cholesterol level

Argan oil as a remedy for various applications:

  • Cancer prevention and support for cancer healing
  • Positive effect on blood pressure and blood sugar
  • Support for skin diseases, cardiovascular diseases and gastrointestinal complaints
  • Relief from joint pain and allergies

What you should look out for when buying

Argan oil is often described as a true miracle cure and praised as the "gold of Morocco". It is even recommended for pets and touted as a weight loss aid. When buying argan oil, whether for skin and hair care or culinary applications, it is important to look for reputable traders to ensure the positive effects.

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