About Argan Oils
Argan Oil is derived from the fruits of the Argan tree (Argania Spinosa). The Argan Tree (Argania spinosa), also known as Morocco Ironwood, is quite a thorny evergreen tree that grows up to 10m high. Its life span is said to be anywhere from 125 to 450 years and the tree may not come into full production until it is 40-60 years old. .
Newly planted groves are not just a valuable gift to the next generation, but they will help in the battle against encroaching desertification right now. Because of this in 1999, UNESCO added the Argan Tree to the world heritage list.The trees can cope with low rainfall and only needs 100 to 200 ml (4 to 8 in).
It has the ability to be dormant in drier times and will regenerate when the rains come again. It will also regenerate after being coppiced. Coppicing is the cutting down of trees in its relative dormant season once in a while. If this coppicing is done with sufficient knowledge of species and local conditions, the tree will respond by growing new shoots from its roots botanically, Argan is a relic species from the Tertiary Age, the only member of the tropical Sapotaceae family occurring north of the Sahara and the single species of the genus Argania. The exact location of this remarkable tree is in the Souss Plain, the Anti-Atlas and the High Atlas Mountains of south western Morocco up to an elevation of 1500m or 4920 ft.
The shade thrown by the tree helps to maintain important pasture grasses which might disappear altogether without such protection due to the drying effects of the sun to the thin soil.
Argania spinosais is locally known as The Tree Of Life, because it helps to make life possible for many creatures in the semi-arid desert of south Morocco. Its roots travel deep to find water and help to bind the soil. Tree root systems also facilitate water infiltration and aquifer replenishment.
Here are some of the many ways in which the tree has been used traditionally by the nomadic Berber tribes and other locals:
The seed kernels produce an oil, which is amber to orange-coloured and has
· Amlou paste: One of the uses of the residue from the kernels after oil extraction is a thick honey-coloured paste called "amlou" which is sweetened with honey and served as a dip for bread at breakfast time in Berber households.
· Cosmetics and soap: Pressing of the oil were also used in the manufacture of homemade soap and cosmetics. The skin products made from the oil soften the skin and help to reduce wrinkles by restoring the skin's water lipid layer.
· Medicine: Traditionally the oil was used as a protective agent in diseases of the liver and blood circulation, such as high cholesterol and arteriosclerosis. It is an excellent tonic and some say it has aphrodisiac qualities. It will generally strengthen the bodys natural defences. It has now been scientifically established that Argan oil has almost twice as much vitamin E as olive oil and is rich in anti-oxidants. It is 80% unsaturated, containing eight essential fatty acids including 34-36% linoleic acid, which cannot be made in the body and must therefore be obtained from the diet. Argan oil also contains rare plant sterols not found in other oils, which have soothing anti-inflammatory properties, beneficial for arthritic or rheumatic conditions. The essential fatty acids affect cell fluidity, help to prevent loss of moisture from the skin, and linings of the nose, lungs, digestive system, and brain. They also play a part in the formation of prostaglandins, of which some reduce pain and swelling, while others help blood circulation.
· Timber for building materials and furniture making. The wood of the tree is excellent and virtually impervious to insect attack.
· Firewood: The wood and nut-shells are used as firewood for cooking.
· Ornament: The wood is also used decoratively in some of the inlaid boxes which are a craft form in the district and which are these days often produced for tourists.
· Charcoal: both for cooking and in the past also for use by craftspeople such as smiths.
· Animal fodder: Goats, camels and sheep can all eat the fruit and the leaves. The trees are covered with vicious spines, which makes it hard for people to gather the fruits unless it is beaten off with a stick. However the spines do not deter the goats who love the fruits.
· Lamp fuel: The second pressings of the oil were a useful source of fuel to make a light in dark nights.
The fruits of the Argan tree are green, and the flesh surrounds a very hard nut which contains 1 to 3 small, oil rich seeds. The fruit take over a year to ripen, once ripe they turn black and fall to the ground.
Traditionally the production of the oil was a demanding and laborious process completely realised by hand. Firstly, the nut is released from the fruit and cracked to collect the seeds contained within. The seeds are roasted and once cooled are ground in a stone rotary quern. The ground seeds are mixed with water to form a dough, it is from this dough that the Argan Oil was extracted by hand.
Recently mechanical presses have been introduced to extract Argan Oil. This process reduces considerably the time needed to extract 1 litre of oil, hence allowing Argan Oil to grow into a viable business option for Berber families.
Once the kernels are roasted, the mechanical press takes care of the grinding and extraction. Using this method more oil is extracted and since no water is added to press the dough, the oil has a much longer shelf life, of up to two years.
Cracking the nuts is still processed by hand. No solvent or heat is used for this oil extraction. This oil is an organic, cold, first pressed oil which means a high nutritive quality.
Benefits Of Argan Oils
Cosmetic Argan Oils
Argan oil is a 100% organic, nourishing and moisturizing skin food. No artificial colouring, perfumes or preservatives are added hence making the oil suitable for sensitive skin.
Argan Oil is internationally recognised for its anti-ageing properties, this is down to its high content of vitamin E and saponins (a natural skin softener).
Argan Oil reduces wrinkles by restoring the skin's water lipid layer.
Argan Oil contains anti-oxidant properties which contributes to the neutralization of free radicals, free radicals are organic molecules responsible for aging, tissue damage, and possibly some diseases.
Argan Oil is traditionally used in Morocco to soothe dry eczema and psoriasis, it can also help to reduce scarring and prevent stretch marks.
Argan oil does not clog the pores as it is a light, non-greasy oil which is
completely absorbed into the skin.
Argan Oil strengthens soft, weak nails
Argan Oil restores life to dull, lifeless hair, treats dry hair, and makes unruly hair easier to manage.
Culinary Argan Oil is roasted for a light nutty flavour, and wonderful aroma. It can be used as a balanced dietary supplement while also helping protect the body against cardiovascular disease and inflammatory disorders. Recent clinical studies have shown Argan Oil to be an effective means for lowering cholesterol.
Argan Oil contains Natural Therapy properties including high levels of vitamin E, ideal for Skin, Nails and Hair, learn more . . . >
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