Known by the Moroccan Berber community as the "Tree of Life", the Argan tree (Argania spinosa) has supported the people of these arid regions and their livestock for centuries. The leaves and fruit sustain goats, camels and sheep. Cattle live off the press-cake that remains after the oil has been extracted; humans eat the oil and the nut shells are used for fuel.
Argan oil is produced from the kernels of the tree and is one of the rarest and most expensive oils in the world. Berber women have used Argan oil for centuries to protect and nourish their skin, hair and nails from the harsh conditions in which they live. Now Argan oil is gaining popularity as a "miracle ingredient" in the Western beauty product industry.
It has extremely high levels of Vitamin E and 80% fatty acids which make it perfect for healing many skin ailments as well as protecting against premature aging caused by oxidation.
Healing and Protecting -
The active substances called triterpenoids that occur in Argan Oil offer amazing skin protection benefits. These include tissue healing (scars), anti-inflammatory, sun-protective and disinfectant properties.
The oil contains 80% unsaturated fatty acids and is more resistant to oxidation than olive oil. Argan oil also contains 0.8% unsaponifiables (a large group of compounds also known as plant sterols or sterolins). Sterolins improve skin metabolism, reduce inflammation and promote excellent moisture retention.
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.
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. They also show anti-cancer properties.
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.It is helpful for lowering cholesterol levels, stimulating circulation and strengthening the body`s natural immunity. It is used to soothe skin ailments like chickenpox, acne, psoriasis, and dry eczema. It is also used to prevent stretch marks during pregnancy.Traditionally Argan oil is also reputed to have aphrodisiac and tonic properties.