Argana pattern, watercolor

Tips regularly appear on more or less unexpected things that are said to solve all sorts of different health problems and ailments. To the more down-to-earth like to drink tea made on lemon and ginger every morning. And probably it’s wise to always take that kind of recommendations with a pinch of salt without expecting miracles that change your life. Oil that has beneficial health effects both as a food ingredient and as a skin and hair preparation. Effects that have been known for thousands of years in the argan oil’s homeland of Morocco, but which have become known to a wider mass relatively recently in the western world.

Production with long traditions

Argan oil is extracted from the fruits that grow on the argon tree. A tree believed to originate in the village of Argana, located northeast of the Moroccan city of Agadir. The argon tree grows wild in the southwestern part of Morocco and its fruits are favorite destinations for the goats of the region. The goats usually eat the pulp itself and remain a hard nut, and it is from this beef that the argan oil is extracted.

Moroccans have used argan oil as a skin preparation and hair care ever since ancient times and the first written testimonies of the oil are as old as 1500 years before Christ. It was in the early 16th century that the first European, Leo Africanus, encountered the argan oil during his travels on the African continent. It was in this way that the argan oil was first introduced to Europe, at that time a pure luxury product that only rich merchants and the nobility had access to.

The argan oil quickly became known in rich circles partly for its health benefits but also as an aphrodisiac. However, over the next 300 years, the oil would be overshadowed by the much more popular olive oil. It was towards the end of the 1990s that the argan oil became known to a wider part of the population and received attention for its properties as an ingredient in food and for its use in skin and hair products.

The argan oil and its effects have become known for a wide mass over the last twenty years and achieved status as something of a sensation. The oil is especially popular with women who prefer to use natural and organic substances on the skin and hair rather than chemically produced preparations. It is against the background of a curious world market that the production of argan oil has increased.

The production of argan oil has historically been mainly done by women and even today most of the harvest and oil production is conducted by women cooperatives. The women’s cooperatives share the profits between the so-called Berber tribes and the money helps to fund things like care, school and care. In other words, buying argan oil is not only a good deal for yourself and your own health, but you are also doing something good for lots of people.

Although the argan oil has long been known as an exclusive product with many health effects, the argan tree has long been threatened with extinction. Apart from a long and expensive production process, it is a reason why the argan oil is one of the rarest and most expensive oils in the world. The tree is protected under a UNESCO program aimed at preserving the ecosystem that it is a part of which limits the opportunities to harvest crops freely.

Despite this, the millions of residents who live in the area where argon trees grow depend on it for their economy, medicine, food, shelter and nutrition. And the cooperatives engaged in the production of argan oil make it in cooperation with the UNESCO program ecological objectives to achieve long-term sustainability.

And there are many people who benefit from the production of argan oil. The argan oil industry currently employs up to 3.5 million people, and the money generated by it is an insignificant part of Morocco’s overall economy.

Although it is a product that is now fairly well-known and used by many, it is still considered a luxury product. Compared to other vegetable oils, it is an expensive oil. This is partly because the trees must not be harvested in any case, but also because very much argan fruit is needed to produce small amounts of oil. One liter of oil requires about 35 kilos of dried fruit which in fresh form weighs as much as 100 kilos. In other words, a ratio of 100: 1.

Preparation of argan oil

Organic fruits are harvested for most of the year, more specifically from May to September. As the trees the argan fruits grow on are prickly and knotty, you usually let the fruits fall to the ground by themselves, or alternatively you use a longer stick to shake them from the trees. Once harvested, the fruits are placed in the sun where they are allowed to dry for about two weeks. This is because they are very difficult to scale in fresh form and that it then becomes difficult to access the nuts which is what one uses to produce the oil.argannotter

The production of argan oil differs slightly depending on whether it is to be used for cosmetic purposes or as a cooking oil. If the purpose is to use the oil for cosmetic products then you cold press the nuts, if instead you want to make cooking oil then you roast the nuts. A process that in the latter case produces a very fragrant oil.

Argan oil in diet

Argan oil is thus sold in a variety of forms and is currently included as an ingredient in many products for both skin, hair and cooking. For cooking you can use argan oil in the same way you use regular vegetable cooking oils like olive oil, rapeseed oil and so on. The oil should be stored dry and cool and consumed within 3-6 months. You can also take the oil raw and it is recommended that you eat 1-2 teaspoons a day, preferably one in the morning and one in the evening. In the home country of Morocco, it is not uncommon for the oil to be consumed at breakfast, especially by dipping the bread into it.

The difference between other cooking oils, which are also useful in most cases, is that the argan oil is almost turbocharged with nutrients. The oil contains high levels of vitamins A and E, essential antioxidants and essential fats such as omega-6 and omega-3 . In other words, it is possible to use the oil as a supplement to a varied diet, but also as a substitute for periods in life when one may not have the time or for other reasons the opportunity to cook varied meals.

Modern research has produced results that indicate that the argan oil has a lot of good effects on the body. Antioxidants help fight cancer. There are signs that it has good effects on the nervous system and that it stimulates the growth of brain cells. Patients with rheumatism have experienced that their joint and muscle aches have decreased. It should also be good for digestion and help stabilize blood sugar and insulin levels.

Popular for hair and skin

Argan oil is still used as a preparation for hair and skin care. Partly as an ingredient in lots of different preparations sold in everything from health food stores to the large department stores’ cosmetic departments and partly as a completely pure product without additives. The reason why it has become so popular for body care is because it is almost considered a kind of miracle product that has an effect on a number of ailments. Argan oil helps against and has also been shown to have an effect on serious skin conditions such as psoriasis. In addition to its soothing effect, it has more common problems such as dry skin and sunburn. All this except that it can also be applied to the entire body for preventive purposes, and because the oil is so light, it is absorbed quickly by the skin. So you don’t have to worry about feeling messy.

As far as the oil’s hair-care properties are concerned, it can primarily help to make the hair more shiny and to repair split hair tips. You simply take a little argan oil in your hands and massage into the hair and very little oil is needed for it to have any effect.