Argan Oil: Benefits, Uses, Properties, and Side Effects
The popularity of argan oil grew when its therapeutic properties were made public. Be it hair, skin, or treating serious conditions like cancer, the argan oil benefits are abundant.
On that note, let’s comprehend about this oil in detail.
What Is Argan Oil?
Argan oil is an incredible plant oil that is obtained from the kernel of an argan tree. Argan is widely found in Morocco and that’s the reason people often call it “Moroccan Argan Oil.” (1)
In fact, Moroccans use argan oil to dip their breads in it at breakfast. They even use it to drizzle on pasta. Besides cuisine, it came into limelight for its medicinal properties.
The fruits of an argan tree are small and are round, oval or conical shaped. Popularly nicknamed as the liquid gold, argan is extracted by drying the kernels in the open air. Later, their fleshy pulp and peals are removed by hands.
The kernels are then roasted gently, cooled down, ground, and finally, pressed. After all these processes, the unfiltered, yellow argan oil is acquired (1).
However, this contains impurities and hence requires settling down for at least two weeks. Once the impurities settle down, it is filtered to get pure argan oil.
About The Argan Tree:
The botanical name of argan is Argania spinosa R. and belongs to the family Sapotaceae. The tree is found in the semi-desert saus valley of Morocco. Saus valley is located in the southwestern part of Morocco, where you will see these trees growing from 8 to 10 meters in height.
The crown is usually 70 meters long with branches leaned to the ground, having a lifespan of more than hundred years. On average, an argan tree can live for 200 years.
The leaves are small and have yellow flowers blooming in April. The fruit has an unpleasant smell and usually mature from June to July. It takes almost one year for the fruits to ripen (2).
Scientific Name Of Argan Oil
Argania spinosa L.
History Of Argan Oil
Argan (Argania spinosa) is believed to a relict-breed species for millions of years. The plant has an amazing capacity to tolerate heat, drought, chalky soil, and even extreme weather conditions.
Argan tree was first reported in 1510 by Leo Africanus, who was an explorer. A botanist named Ibn Al baytar first wrote his descriptions about argan.
With the ever-growing popularity and multiple benefits the tree offers, Argan forest is considered as one of the most important natural resource of Africa (3).
Color, Consistency, and Smell Of Argan Oil
- The color of argan oil is golden brown or deep yellow.
- The smell of argan oil is nutty and earthy.
- The consistency of argan oil is light and non-sticky
Properties of Argan oil
- Antiproliferative – Prevents the growth of malignant cells
- Antioxidant – Scavenges free radicals
- Immunomodulatory – Boosts the immune system
- Aphrodis – Increases sexual activity
- Anti-cancerous – Fights cancerous cells
- Anti-inflammatory – Reduces swelling and inflammation
- Anti-aging – Prevents the cells from growing older
- Antidiabetic – Fights against diabetes
- Hepatoprotective – Protects the liver cells
- Analgesic – Reduces pain
- Antipyretic – Lowers the body temperature
- Anti-seizure – Fights against brain seizures
Chemical Compounds In Argan Oil
Argan oil is a rich source of oleic and linoleic acid. The major triglycerides found in it are dilinoleoyl-oleoyl-glycerol 12%, dioleoyl- llinoleoyl-glycerol 15.5%, palmitoyl-oleoyl-linolegyl-glycerol 12.6%, palmitoyl- dioleoyl-glycerol 15.8% and triolein 11.3% with 12.1% unsaponified fractions.
It is also fortified with gamma-tocopherol (8), polyphenols, sterols, squalene, and triterpene alcohol.
Benefits Of Argan Oil
Argan oil is well known for its anti-seizure and anti-inflammatory properties. In 2017, a study conducted on argan oil found that it effectively treats epilepsy and seizures. The other uses and health of benefits of argan oil are listed below.
1. Reduces high cholesterol levels
Argan oil is a rich source of triglycerides. These triglycerides help in reducing bad cholesterol levels and improves the good. When this happens, it decreases the chances of some deadly conditions like atherosclerosis, stroke, heart attack, and ischemic pain.
The phenols help prevent LDL (Low Density Lipoproteins or bad cholesterol) and enhance the HDL (High Density Lipoproteins or good cholesterol) (6).
Its natural anti-inflammatory and anti-clotting properties ensure that the heart rates are normal (9). Also, the polyphenols, sterols, and vitamin E in argan help in countering the effect of atherosclerosis (8).
2. Fights the aging signs
Argan oil is a rich source of vitamin E. It penetrates the epidermal and boosts proper cell production under the skin. It is well known that vitamin E is a rich source of antioxidants and prevents premature aging of the cells. No wonder beauty products often include vitamin E as their key ingredient.
In addition, argan oil has essential fatty acids like omega 3, 6, and 9. Omega 6 hydrates the skin and locks the moisture in it.
The terpenoids in argan oil heal acne and scars. Saponins help in regeneration of the skin. Sterols promote healthy skin metabolism (10).
3. Controls blood sugar levels
Argan oil is fortified with tocopherol, phenolics, and unsaturated fatty acids. It prevents insulin production. It also has a favorable effect on BMI (Body Mass Index) and weight gain (11).
High fat and high-sugar diet maintain insulin resistance. It also restores fasting glycemia level (12). It can be said that consumption of argan oil may have antiatherogenic effect by improving lipid profile. Susceptibility of LDL to oxidation lead dyslipidemia in diabetic patients.
4. Treats extremely dry skin
One of the best argan oil benefits is the ability to treat different skin problems and “dry skin” being one of them. Be it extremely dry or rough skin, argan oil can do a great deed in healing it.
Being a rich source of vitamin E and other lipids, it usually heals cracked skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.
When applied topically, argan oil locks the moisture in and helps the skin rejuvenate. Due to its vitamin E and gamma tocopherol, it fills the cracks in between the skin, improves the skin texture, and prevents it from cracking further. (13)
5. Removes pregnancy stretch marks
Since argan oil is one of the best sources of vitamin E, it helps in removing stretch marks. Just apply a few drops of argan oil to your thighs, buttocks, breast, belly, and arms during pregnancy to help the cells lock the moisture in in the cells. (14)
When argan oil is applied gently every day from the fifth month of pregnancy on the regions mentioned above, it lightens them and makes it less visible.
6. Fights cancerous cells
Though there are various benefits of argan oil, this might be the most significant, as it is associated with cancer. Since argan oil is a great source of vitamin E and has abundant antioxidant potential, it can help scavenge the free radicals.
These free radicals are basically O-, O2- molecules (or free oxygen molecules), which break down the cell structure and cause cell death.
Similarly, it works on a cancerous cell by disintegrating or breaking its cell structure. When the cancerous cells break down, the infected cells die, controlling the growth of these cancerous cells eventually.
Prostate cancer and bladder cancer have been known to benefit the most with the help of argan oil. Its anti-inflammatory properties reduce the chances of tumor formation and cancerous cell growth. (15)
7. Improves digestion
Organic compounds in argan oil increase the pepsin levels in the stomach and boost gastric juice, resulting in efficient food digestion as well as high nutrient intake.
It increases bile secretion and aids in proper intake of lipids. By increasing proper lipid intake in the body, argan oil can work as a good diet supplement for lipids. (16)
8. Enhances liver functions
The liver is the most sophisticated organ of the body. Argan oil, when included in the diet, helps in improving bad liver conditions. This is mainly due to the presence of rich antioxidants in it. It helps scavenge the free radicals and protect the cells from any harm or damage.
When antioxidants scavenge the free radicals, liver cells are protected from further sabotage. Secondly, argan oil has anti-diabetic property, which regulates insulin production. (17)
Diabetes is yet another key reason for hepatic cell damage or fatigue liver. However, argan can control blood sugar levels and protect hepatic cells.
9. Heals wounds faster
Be it wounds or other abrasions on the skin, argan can handle it very quickly. It not only heals but also impedes the infection from spreading. When applied topically on the skin surface, it can work naturally and fast. Being a rich source of tocopherol, it soothes the skin and reseals the moisture. (18)
10. Improves the overall hair texture
Argan oil is an incredible hair tonic. Be it dull hair, dry hair, damaged hair, or split ends, it can do wonders to your tresses.
It conditions the hair, moisturizes the scalp, nourishes dry hairs, prevents hair loss, treats damage, and protects sun damage.
Argan oil is a rich source of vitamin E and antioxidants, which revitalize hair loss. Fatty acids, omega 6, and linoleic acid refurbish hair loss. It soothes the scalp by nourishing it deep.
Argan oil has potent skin-penetrating properties and hence, can reach directly underneath the skin. It nourishes the hair roots and improves its texture by locking the moisture in. (19)
What Blends With Argan Oil?
Though argan oil can be blended with different natural ingredients, these oils work the best:
- Jojoba oil
- Kukui oil
- Camellia oil
- Shea butter
- Lavender oil
How To Use Argan Oil?
Argan oil is also known as liquid gold. It is a very potent beauty enhancer, it is available in multiple beauty products blended with other oils. However, there is a proper way to use this oil.
- For cracked skin: Apply a few drops of argan oil on the cracked skin part and massage it gently. Do this regularly before going to bed. Leave it overnight and wash off in the morning to see desired results in a few days.
- For damaged hair: Take a few drops of argan oil in the palm and apply it gently on to your scalp and hair. Massage it gently. Leave it either for 3-4 hours or overnight. Wash off with a mild shampoo after that.
- For skin problems: Argan oil is available in the form of cream and ointments. For eczema and psoriasis, the cream can be applied gently twice a day for desired results.
Note: The oil can be dangerous if consumed orally. Hence, keep it away from children.
Side Effects Of Argan Oil
The side effects of argan oil are rare. In a few cases, argan oil might show some irritation, rashes, excessive skin itching, allergic reaction, redness, and difficulty in breathing. This is because of the tocopherol present in it, which can increase the bleeding time.
Overall, it is safe to use. There is no much evidence proving its side effects. Hence, more studies are required to evaluate the side effect of argan oil.