Argan Oil is the most expensive edible oil in the world but it is also one of the most versatile. It is a rich, exotic oil with medicinal, culinary and beautifying properties. Argan trees grow wild only in south western Morocco where they have been revered by the indigenous Berbers as a source of food, medicine, fuel and building materials. The desert-adapted tree grows in inhospitably hot, dry conditions where little else grows except under the canopies of the Argan. It sends down incredibly deep roots which not only feed and anchor the tree but help to hold back the encroaching desert.
Argan Oil is pressed from the tiny kernels nestled inside the oval shaped nut of the argan fruit. Most of the production of Argan oil, from harvesting, to cracking the awkward shaped nut, to pressing, is carried out by women using traditional methods and without machinery. It is a labour intensive and time consuming process to obtain the ‘liquid gold’ with exceptional health properties. Argan Oil has an incredibly complex make up of nutrients, some of which are rare and others are still waiting to be identified.
It is a unique blend of fatty acids, including essential fatty acids, natural antioxidants, carotenoids, ferulic acid, sterols, polyphenols, vitamin E, squalene and an impressive range of phenols. It also contains the two rare phytosterols, schottenol and spinasterol, that are not found in any other vegetable oil.
Argan oil is considered to be a nutraceutical or functional food because its regular consumption contributes to good health. It can safely lower blood pressure and cholesterol, protect against cardiovascular disease, cancer, environmental pollution and arthritis and treat chronic diseases like diabetes. It boosts the body’s immune response and soothes inflammation so it can be considered an anti-ageing formula, both internally and externally. It also acts as a digestive aid by increasing pepsin in the gut.
The wide range of antioxidants and high vitamin E content ensure that Argan Oil is healing, nourishing, hydrating, moisturising and rejuvenating for skin, hair and nails. Argan oil restores the skin’s hydro-lipid layer whilst stimulating intracellular oxygenation, which increases the delivery of nutrients and accelerates the regeneration of the skin. This ‘miracle’ oil protects the skin from environmental damage by neutralising free radicals and it normalises sebum production.
Argan Oil can be a life saver for dry, damaged hair and skin. Dandruff, dermatitis, psoriasis, oily, dry and itchy scalps, wrinkles, eczema, rosacea, scar tissue, wounds, sunburn, cracked heels, acne, bruises, burns, blemishes and redness are all soothed and healed by Argan Oil. It can be massaged into the scalp, used as a deep conditioning treatment for hair or added to shampoo and conditioner. As a stand-alone moisturiser and split-end remedy, it’s hard to beat and a little goes a long way. It is also wonderful for brittle cuticles and weak nails when massaged regularly.
The Berbers cook with Argan Oil and use it as a breakfast dip. It is best used raw or very lightly cooked and even a small amount adds a distinctly Moroccan flavour to any dish.