Argan oil is extracted from the nuts of the Argan tree, found primarily in Morocco. The tree also grows sparingly in certain regions of Algeria and Israel. Since the production of this oil is mostly limited to the few regions where these trees grow, it has a high demand but a limited supply. It's extraction method is complex and it has a shelf life of 3 to 6 months. Argan oil, therefore, comes under the list of one of the highly priced oils in the world. Touted as one of the best oils for skin and hair care, it has found its place as an ingredient in several cosmetics too.
Why is Argan Oil so Beneficial?
- Argan oil is loaded with essential fatty acids like linoleic acid, which is an unsaturated omega-6 fatty acid. This gives it great anti-aging, inflammation-reducing, moisturizing, and antioxidant properties. It is claimed that this oil can correct age-related skin conditions that cause dehydration and loss of skin elasticity.
- It is found to contain 620 mg of tocopherols (chemical compounds that have vitamin E activity) per kilogram, that is almost twice the amount found in olive oil. Tocopherol is a free radical fighter and has therapeutic properties for the body.
- This oil is a natural antioxidant and can stimulate intracellular oxygenation. This helps neutralize free radicals and protects soft tissue. The health of the skin is restored with the help of topical application of the oil.
- It also has vitamin A and omega-9 unsaturated fatty acids, both of which are helpful for skin health. These components further add to its antioxidant properties.
Benefits of Argan Oil
While the benefits of topical application of argan oil have only been partially scientifically proven, the benefits of consuming it have been backed by limited scientific research on animals and human beings.
- Argan oil helps in reducing wrinkles and softening the skin.
- It is also known to increase the elasticity of the skin which makes it beneficial to prevent stretch marks and lighten them too.
- Argan oil aids regeneration of the skin by revitalizing cell functions that prevent early skin aging due to exposure to harsh sunlight, pollution, stress, smoking, etc.
- Argan oil has skin moisturizing properties stronger than olive oil as well as shea butter, thus helping those with very dry skin, including those with conditions like eczema and psoriasis.
- Argan oil has a sebum-regulating action that reduces the oiliness of the skin. It is not greasy and hence is absorbed easily by the skin. A research on 20 subjects in the age group of 17-20 years showed that the application of a cream that contained argan oil twice daily for 4 weeks reduced oiliness of the face.
- Argan oil has antimicrobial as well as pH balancing properties which help in the reduction of skin irritation and inflammation. If you are suffering from acne or chickenpox scars, application of argan oil will help.
- It is also helpful in treating burns.
- Crinkly under-eyes can be rejuvenated by applying argan oil with or without application of a regular skin cream.
- Those who apply mineral makeup will find their skin tends to get drier. This can be avoided by the application of 1-2 drops of argan oil for 5 minutes, before the application of mineral make-up.
- Argan oil is known to make hair stronger and healthy looking.
- You can say good-bye to frizzy hair after the application of this oil to hair.
- Split ends can be avoided and damaged hair can be restored.
- The benefits of argan oil for hair also include imparting a shine to dull hair. The high content of vitamin E in the oil is very useful in restoring life to limp hair.
- It hydrates the hair roots making them less rough to touch.
- It not only prevents hair damage caused due to styling and outdoor activities, but also improves elasticity and reduces hair loss due to breakage. The unsaturated fatty acids strengthen brittle hair by bonding the protein structures that make up hair strands.
- Unmanageable hair can be brought under control by application of argan oil.
- As this oil is non-greasy, its application does not make hair look sticky and oily.
- Argan oil is known to soothe and give relief from pain due to rheumatism and arthritis.
- It has the ability to reduce triglyceride levels in men, thus preventing the development of cardiovascular disease. This was proven in a research study conducted on 60 subjects for a period of 2 weeks, where they were fed 25g of butter daily for two weeks to establish baseline cholesterol levels. The group was then divided into two. One group was given 25ml of virgin argan oil every day, whereas the other group was given the same amount of extra virgin olive oil. Both groups showed an increase in HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol. It was also found that argan oil had significant triglyceride-lowering properties in men, while the olive oil helped reduce LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol levels.
- Argan oil also helps in increasing the body's immunity against diseases and infections because of its high antioxidant levels. Though not proven, it is believed to be able to prevent the development of breast, prostate, colorectal, and endometrial cancer.
- The oil is also known to help in reducing insulin resistance of the body, as demonstrated in animals. A study was conducted on diabetic rats, where 2.5 ml/kg of argan oil was injected into them 30 minutes before glucose loading. This resulted in a significantly lower blood glucose level reduction that lasted for a period of 3 hours. In another study, when diabetic rats were given streptozotocin (a naturally occurring chemical that is toxic to insulin-producing cells), and then fed argan oil (2 ml/kg), they showed a marked reduction in the glycemia levels within 15 days. Also, the absorption of blood glucose in a part of the intestine (jejunum) had decreased substantially. Another study conducted in 2009 showed that the oil helped reduce the onset of diabetes by reversing the metabolic changes that occurred after the consumption of a high-sugar diet.
- People with brittle nails can make their nails stronger by regular application of argan oil on them.
How much Argan Oil Should One Consume?
Argan oil may be consumed to the tune of 1-2 tablespoons a day for its preventive and therapeutic properties. This oil should be consumed uncooked to attain all its benefits. It may be used as a salad dressing or added to different foods after they have been cooked.
Argan oil benefits are innumerable and some have been scientifically proven. Its only drawbacks include its high price, short shelf-life and limited supply. Moroccan women have used argan oil for centuries as a great cosmetic remedy. You too may safely try argan oil and reap its benefits for yourself.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only and does not attempt to replace the advice of a medical expert.