Argan oil or Moroccan oil is a rare but very healthy oil which is full of antioxidants and healthy fats.
It contains vitamin E in significant amounts and has numerous health benefits.
Argan Oil is extracted from the kernels of the Argan tree called Argania spinosa in scientific terms. This tree is a native of Morocco where it was earlier found in large numbers. Hence, it is also known as Moroccan oil.
However, the number of trees has decreased significantly, and they are now considered a rare species. Thus, pure argan oil is relatively rare and expensive.
Argan oil contains tocopherols (vitamin E), phenols (caffeic acid, vanillic acid, tyrosol, catechol, catechin, and resorcinol), carotenes, squalenes and fatty acids.
The primary fatty acids present in argan oil are oleic acid, linoleic acid, palmitic acid, stearic acid, and linolenic acid.
Argan oil also has several trace minerals like calcium, chromium, iron, aluminum, magnesium, potassium, sodium, lithium, vanadium and zinc.
Argan oil was used traditionally in foods and for treating skin and hair diseases. However, more recently, research has revealed its many other health benefits and uses.
15 Proven Health Benefits of Argan Oil
Let us now know more about these benefits and how argan oil helps in treating health conditions.
1. Argan oil contains many antioxidants
Antioxidants protect the body from damage by free radicals. The free radicals are produced in as a result of many metabolic reactions that take place in the body to carry out the normal functioning.
Usually, the body has its antioxidant defense mechanism, but sometimes, the number of free radicals increases, which leads to an imbalance between oxidants and antioxidants. This is called oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress is responsible for causing adverse health effects and diseases like cancer, diabetes, hypertension, atherosclerosis, respiratory diseases, neurological disorders, asthma and many others.
In such a scenario, additional antioxidants are required from the diet to inhibit the action of these free radicals and prevent damage to DNA and body cells.
Argan oil can thus be used for treating diseases caused by oxidative stress and adverse effects of reactive oxygen species.
In a study conducted on 37 hemodialysis patients who were given argan oil for a month, the level of vitamin E in plasma was found to increase which was beneficial for dealing with oxidative stress in these patients.
What does this mean?Argan oil is full of antioxidants like tocopherols and phenols which protect the body from toxins and prevent diseases caused by oxidative stress.
(Read more 6 Disorders Argan Oil Benefits as an Antioxidant)
2. Argan oil has anti-inflammatory nature
Inflammation is the cause of many diseases like arthritis, inflammatory bowel diseases, skin diseases, neurological disorders, cancer, and many others.
Inflammation is the body’s immune response which helps in fighting infections and injury and aids the repair process.
However, sometimes, inflammation increases so much that it starts affecting the body cells adversely.
Argan oil contains high concentrations of gamma-tocopherols which have strong anti-inflammatory properties.
These tocopherols suppress various inflammatory mediators and help in reducing inflammation.
This could contribute to controlling inflammation and can assist in managing inflammation-mediated diseases and skin aging.
However, these effects have to be further researched.
What does this mean? Tocopherols in argan oil reduce inflammation and could be used for the treatment of inflammatory diseases.
3. Argan oil benefits in knee osteoarthritis
Knee osteoarthritis causes joint pain and difficulty in walking.
It is caused by inflammation of the joints which occurs as a result of wear and tear of the cartilages.
The person experiences pain and stiffness in joints with decreased movement.
Argan oil was used traditionally by Moroccans to treat knee osteoarthritis, and recent research proves its beneficial effects.
The research was conducted on about 100 persons, some of which were given 30ml Argan oil per day and results were recorded after two months.
It was found that individuals treated with argan oil showed improvements in their symptoms and well being.
Argan oil helped in reducing pain and improved knee function in the patients.
What does this mean? Argan oil helps in reducing pain and inflammation in case of knee osteoarthritis.
How to use?
For knee osteoarthritis, argan oil can be applied to the affected area twice daily with gentle massaging. It can also be included in the diet.
4. Argan oil assist in the management of diabetes
Diabetes is caused by an imbalance in levels of glucose in the blood.
This could be due to decreased insulin production or due to the development of insulin resistance. Insulin is responsible for regulating glucose levels and storage in the body.
Argan oil’s effects on diabetes have been studied widely with positive results.
In animal models, argan oil treatment has been shown to prevent the development and progression of diabetes by helping in reducing blood glucose levels.
It also stores the extra glucose as glycogen in the liver due to which plasma glucose levels remain controlled.
It also helps in reducing insulin resistance and treating insulin-related abnormalities in diabetes cases.
Oxidative stress has been found to play a significant role in the occurrence of diabetes. Oxidation of glucose and degradation of glycogen by the process of oxidation leads to the release of free radicals which damage cells and enzymes like insulin.
This leads to the development of insulin resistance. Oxidative stress can also lead to further complications in diabetes patients.
Argan oil has antioxidant properties which can deal with this oxidative stress and can be used for the treatment and prevention of insulin resistance and diabetes.
Moreover, it can help in improving lipid levels and metabolic profile of diabetes patients and assist in the successful management of diabetes.
What does this mean? Argan oil reduces blood glucose, deals with insulin resistance and improves the metabolic status in people with diabetes.
How to use?
In diabetes, argan oil can be taken with salads and soups and can also be substituted for any cooking oil. However, overheating or using it for deep frying is not recommended.
5. Argan oil promotes weight loss and prevents obesity
Weight loss occurs due to metabolic abnormalities where the body is unable to regulate glucose, lipids and other enzymes.
The excess fats, cholesterol, and glucose then start accumulating in the body as body fat and increase the body weight.
Obesity or being overweight comes with other health complications like increased blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes and risk of cardiovascular disorders.
For efficient management of obesity, proper regulation of enzymes and metabolic status is required.
Argan oil helps in lowering blood glucose, triglycerides, cholesterol, and insulin levels and helps in normalizing the metabolic profile in obese patients.
By reducing glucose, cholesterol, blood pressure and improving the lipid profile, it inhibits fat storage and ensures weight control.
This helps in preventing other obesity-related complications and risk of heart diseases.
Oxidative stress and obesity are closely related. The damage caused to body cells by free radicals disrupts the metabolic status and leads to obesity-related complications.
Argan oil, being an excellent antioxidative agent can help in lowering the oxidative stress and combating the free radicals in obesity cases.
What does this mean? Argan oil promotes the reduction of lipids, fats and body weight. It aids in the prevention of obesity and related disorders.
How to use?
Regular consumption of about 2-3 tbsp argan oil, preferably extra virgin argan oil can benefit obese individuals.
6. Argan oil can lower the blood pressure
High blood pressure is detrimental for the blood vessels and heart. It can cause serious ailments like stroke, heart attack, heart, and kidney failure.
Argan oil has been found to be beneficial for maintaining optimum levels of blood pressure.
Due to its antioxidant capacity, it inhibits the elevation of blood pressure levels and could be used to treat hypertension.
In a study, it was found to lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure levels by about 29% and 31% respectively.
In diabetes cases, which are usually accompanied by many metabolic abnormalities including abnormal blood pressure, argan oil was able to reduce the blood pressure with the help of tocopherols, phenols and unsaturated fatty acids.
What does this mean? Argan oil is beneficial for patients with hypertension, diabetes and heart diseases as it helps in reducing blood pressure levels.
How to use?
Patients with hypertension can take pure argan oil as a salad dressing on drizzle over soups. 2-3 tbsp argan oil can be consumed.
7. Argan oil improves heart health
Atherosclerosis occurs due to the buildup of plaque in the arteries.
This plaque is formed from fats and cholesterol which can block the arteries or restrict the blood flow.
This reduces the blood flow to the organs because of which they cannot receive adequate oxygen and other essential nutrients.
On the long term, reduced blood availability to heart, kidneys, brains or other organs can lead to coronary heart disease, coronary artery disease, heart failure, renal failure, angina, numbness in legs and arms, ischemia, stroke or heart attack.
Therefore, it is vital to reduce fat and cholesterol deposition, to reduce the risk of these cardiovascular ailments.
Argan oil helps in lowering the total cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL (Low-Density Lipoprotein) cholesterol which contribute to fat deposition.
On the other hand, it increases the HDL (High-Density Lipoprotein) cholesterol, which is good for the heart and prevents accumulation of fats.
Argan oil can reduce the total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol by about 14% and 33% respectively.
It also improves the antioxidant status and the functioning of plasma paraoxonase enzyme which is crucial for proper cardiovascular health.
The British Journal of Nutrition reports a study in which 20 persons consumed 15g argan oil in the breakfast per day for a month. Another group of 20 individuals who were not given argan oil served as control group, and both groups were monitored.
Results showed improved levels of vitamin E and antioxidant status in subjects who consumed argan oil.
Reduced levels of lipids, total cholesterol, and LDL cholesterol were also observed. Thus, it was concluded that argan oil benefits in improving the markers of heart diseases.
It further protects the heart by lowering blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes and improving the metabolic profile.
What does this mean? Argan oil reduces the risk of cardiovascular disorders by improving their metabolic status and preventing deposition of plaque in arteries.
How to use?
3-4 tbsp of extra virgin argan oil taken regularly will improve the lipid profile and metabolic status of persons having a risk of heart diseases.
(Read more 12 Proven Benefits of Argan oil for Heart Health)
Argan oil can assist in treating and preventing cancer
Cancerous cells have a high metabolism as they proliferate very rapidly and thus generate more free radicals. These free radicals damage cells and cause DNA injury and mutations, resulting in cancer.
Argan oil, being a potent antioxidant, can battle the oxidative stress caused by the free radicals and help in cancer prevention.
It has also been discovered that argan oil nanoemulsions can be used for cancer therapy which has built-in anti-cancer effects and could assist in the killing of cancerous cells.
Positive effects of argan oil have been found in cases of prostate cancer. Polyphenols and sterols in argan oil had anti-proliferative cytotoxic activity against prostate cancer cell lines which assisted in controlling tumor growth and killing of cancer cells.
In another study, tocopherols and saponins extracted from argan oil demonstrated similar effects on cancerous prostate cells.
Argan oil contains another chemoprotective agent, squalene, which shows protective effects on skin and colon cancer cells, which could be used to prevent and treat colon cancer and skin cancer. However, this has to be studied further.
What does this mean? Antioxidants in argan oil inhibit growth and proliferation of cancer cells and help in killing them. It has been proved beneficial in cases of prostate, skin and colon cancer.
(Read more 7 Benefits of Argan Oil in Cancer)
Argan oil can treat skin disorders
Skin health is adversely affected by infections and exposure to harsh chemicals, radiations, and environmental pollutants.
These substances have a toxic effect on skin cells, or they lead to the production of reactive species which cause damage to skin cells.
They are responsible for causing many skin disorders and even skin cancer.
The antioxidants present in argan oil such as tocopherols (vitamin E) protect the skin from oxidative stress caused by these free radicals.
Argan oil has been used traditionally for treating skin disorders and infections. It has been scientifically proved to protect the skin from the following conditions:
Skin aging: With age, the skin becomes thinner, loses its elasticity and smoothness, develops wrinkles and takes a longer time to heal.
Oxidative stress and inflammation caused by UV radiations from the sun plays a significant role in the process of skin aging.
Many antioxidants are capable of dealing with this oxidative stress and delay the aging process. Argan oil has anti-aging effects due to the presence of antioxidants like vitamin E which are very beneficial for skin.
This helps in the prevention of wrinkles and keeps the skin smooth and young.
Loss of skin elasticity can also lead the occurrence of stretch marks in persons who rapidly gain or lose weight. This is usually seen teenagers and pregnant women as scarring on the skin.
A cream containing argan oil has been successfully used for the prevention and treatment of this condition by improving the skin elasticity.
Dry skin: Loss of oil from the skin causes loss of water from epidermal skin cells and makes the skin dry. This could cause itching, scarring, redness and in severe cases skin tears and starts bleeding and becomes susceptible to bacterial infections.
Dry skin is also a symptom of certain disorders like eczema, psoriasis or allergies.
A study was conducted on 60 postmenopausal women who applied argan oil on their forearms daily for two months.
It was found that argan oil helps to maintain skin hydration by improving its water holding capacity. It reduced the transepidermal water loss and increased the moisture content in the epidermis.
Acne: Acne is caused by increased sebum production. Sebum is secreted by the oil glands present in the skin. Sebum is beneficial for skin health in optimum amounts, but increased sebum production blocks the skin pores resulting in the formation of lesions and acne.
The presence of oxidative stress has also been found in patients with acne vulgaris, and antioxidants have been recommended for acne treatment.
A cream containing polyphenol-rich extracts from argan oil has been found to be successful in controlling sebum levels when applied twice daily for a month.
Also, the antioxidants in argan oil can deal with oxidative stress that develops in acne cases.
Hyperpigmentation: Special skin cells produce the pigment melanin which is responsible for the color of the skin.
Hyperpigmentation disorders are caused by abnormal melanin production which causes dark colored patches on the skin. It can cause conditions like freckles, Addison’s diseases or Melasma.
Argan oil contains tocopherols, which inhibit melanin synthesis and could be used for treatment or prevention of hyperpigmentation disorders.
What does this mean? Argan oil is extremely beneficial for skin health as it delays skin aging, improves skin hydration and elasticity and helps in treatment and prevention of skin disorders like acne, eczema, Melasma and other hyperpigmentation disorders.
How to use?
For skin treatment, both oral and topical use of argan oil is beneficial. Creams and lotions containing argan oil are being formulated for treating skin conditions. However, use these only after seeking medical advice.
(Read more Benefits of Argan oil for Skin)
Argan oil benefits in epilepsy and seizures
Epilepsy is a type of brain disorder which causes sudden, unprovoked and recurrent seizures. This occurs as a result of changes in brain activity and muscle contractions.
Epilepsy can occur due to many factors including high blood pressure, an imbalance in blood glucose levels, brain injury, disorder or defects, heart disease or alcohol withdrawal.
Argan oil has been found to be beneficial in the treatment of epilepsy by helping in reducing the severity of seizures and lowering the oxidative stress in the brain which arises due to seizures.
What does this mean?
Argan oil helps in controlling seizures and oxidative stress in the brain which assists in the management of epilepsy.
Argan oil promotes brain health
Argan oil promotes brain health and helps in the prevention of neurodegenerative diseases.
It contains oleic acid which protects the brain from the harmful effects of 7-ketocholesterol which is formed from cholesterol and is the cause of many brain disorders.
Argan oil contains antioxidants like tocopherols and polyphenols which help in improving brain function through various mechanisms, reverses oxidative stress and prevents neurological dysfunction.
Two phytosterols present in argan oil, namely, schottenol and spinasterol enhance neural cell metabolism and modulate mitochondrial activity which controls the release of free radicals by biochemical processes.
Thus, they can promote the functioning of the central nervous system.
What does this mean? Argan oil ensures proper brain functioning and sound brain health by reducing the risk of neurological disorders.
Argan oil increases the number of Immune cells
Immune cells protect the body from infections and diseases.
They serve as body’s defense mechanism and also assist in repair and regeneration of damaged cells.
Argan oil can increase the production of certain immune cells. In animal models, argan oil has been shown to increase the number of thymocytes (immune cells) and has no adverse effects on immune function.
What does this mean? By increasing the number of immune cells, argan oil could help in strengthening the immune system and prevent ailments.
Argan oil fastens the wound healing process
An injury to body cells and subsequent damage leads to the development of wound.
The body initiates a repair mechanism, but sometimes the wound requires faster healing to prevent infections and more damage.
Antioxidants are known to assist and accelerate the wound healing process. They deal with the reactive oxygen species formed at the injury site and prevent them from damaging other body cells.
The excellent antioxidant effects of argan oil are now very well known to us. It contains numerous antioxidants and thus could be used for healing of wounds.
In a study, the effects of argan oil on treating second-degree burn injuries were evaluated, and it was found to be more effective than silver sulfadiazine, which is usually used for treating burn wounds.
It hastens the healing process and promotes wound contraction which results in early repair and wound closure.
However, clinical trials are required to ascertain its safety and efficacy.
What does this mean? Argan oil makes the healing process faster and ensures early wound closure.
Argan oil can be useful for postmenopausal disorders
Menopause occurs when the process of menstruation in women ceases.
Post menopause, women experience many physiological and psychological changes in the body like osteoporosis, urogenital problems, skin aging, hot flushes, depression, sleep disorders and memory problems.
In a study conducted on postmenopausal Moroccan women, it was found that consumption of argan oil improved the antioxidant capacity by increasing the levels of vitamin E which could be useful in the prevention of some postmenopausal disorders.
In another study, it was found to improve skin elasticity and delay the process of skin aging in postmenopausal women.
What does this mean? Argan oil could be used for controlling and prevention of postmenopausal disorders.
How to use?
Postmenopausal women can include argan oil in their diet as salad dressings or in place of other oils to reduce the risk of age-related disorders.
Argan oil can help treat male infertility
Male infertility can occur due to many reasons including hormonal imbalances. Hormones assist in the production of healthy sperms, which are the male gametes.
A study was conducted on healthy Moroccan men to analyze the effects of argan oil on their hormonal profile. It was found that consumption of argan oil aided in increasing the levels of important male hormones like testosterone and luteinizing hormone (LH) and it could be beneficial for treating male infertility.
What does this mean? Argan oil improves male hormone levels required for the production of healthy sperms and boosts male fertility.
How to use?
Argan oil can regularly be consumed for improved fertility. However, this should not be used as a substitute for regular treatment and should be considered as only a complementary medicine.
Argan Oil Recipes
Vegetable salad with argan oil dressing
- 1 ½ tbsp argan oil
- 1tbsp chopped garlic
- ½ cup chopped onion
- ¼ Tsp ground black pepper
- ¾ cup chopped tomatoes
- ¾ cup chopped carrots
- ½ cup chopped capsicum
- ½ cup cucumber
- ½ cup corn kernels
- 1 tbsp chopped cilantro/ coriander
- One tsp salt
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Pour ½ tbsp argan oil into a saucepan. Add chopped garlic and ¼ cup onions and stir for 5 minutes. Put off the flame and transfer to a mixing bowl.
Add carrots, tomato, cucumber, corn kernels, ¼ cup onion, cucumber, cilantro, and mint. Add one Tsp salt and ¼ Tsp black pepper. Pour one tbsp argan oil and vinegar and mix gently. A healthy vegetable salad is ready to eat.
Lentil soup with argan oil
- 2 ½ tbsp argan oil
- 20g butter
- One onion chopped
- One carrot chopped
- 1-2 cloves garlic
- One tsp cumin powder
- One tsp coriander powder
- ½ Tsp turmeric powder
- ½ Tsp chili powder
- ½ cup red lentils
- 1 ½ cups of water
- ¼ Tsp lemon juice
- Fresh coriander leaves chopped, for garnish
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- Pour 1 tbsp argan oil and butter into a pan. Add onions, garlic, and carrots and stir for 5 minutes.
- Add salt, cumin powder, coriander powder, chili powder, turmeric powder and black pepper powder. Stir and cook for a minute.
- Add lentils and 1 ½ cups of water, stir and bring to a boil. Cook covered for 20-30 minutes till lentils are soft.
- Add lemon juice and stir properly. Garnish with coriander leaves.
- Drizzle remaining argan oil on the soup before serving.
Precautions while taking Argan Oil
Argan oil is safe for consumption and topical use, but precautions are required for certain people.
Always use pure argan oil or extra virgin argan oil which is unrefined and not treated chemically. Contamination in oil can cause adverse effects on health and allergies.
Pure argan oil is rare and quite expensive, so if you are purchasing a cheap product, the chances are that it might not be 100% pure.
Cosmetic products which claim to contain argan oil usually have it in small concentrations, which might not be adequate to confer the proposed health benefits.
Argan oil is obtained from tree nuts and thus could cause allergy in some persons with tree nut allergies.
Argan oil should be stored in dark-colored bottles or metal containers to avoid degradation by light.
While using argan oil in dishes and recipes, one should not use it for deep frying, as overheating could damage the nutrients present in it.
Argan oil should not be directly applied to deep wounds.
(Read more: Possible Side Effects of Argan Oil)
Argan oil consists of potent antioxidants and healthy fats which are extremely useful for health. It has anti-inflammatory properties which could help in the prevention of inflammatory disorders.
It is beneficial for patients who have diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, obesity, cancer, epilepsy, neurological disorders, skin ailments, postmenopausal disorders, and male infertility issues.
It increases immune cells and promotes faster wound healing.
However, more studies need to be conducted in these regards to ascertain the therapeutic use of argan oil.
If taken with precautions and in pure form, it is most likely to have a positive impact on one’s health.