By Ansley Hill
Argan oil has been a culinary staple in Morocco for centuries — not only because of its subtle, nutty flavor but also its wide array of potential health benefits.
This naturally occurring plant oil is derived from the kernels of the fruit of the argan tree.
Although native to Morocco, argan oil is now used across the globe for a variety of culinary, cosmetic and medicinal applications.
This article explains 12 of the most prominent health benefits and uses of argan oil.
1. Contains Essential Nutrients
Argan oil is primarily comprised of fatty acids and a variety of phenolic compounds.
The majority of the fat content of argan oil comes from oleic and linoleic acid (1).
Oleic acid, though not essential, makes up 43–49% of the fatty acid composition of argan oil and is also a very healthy fat. Found in olive oil as well, oleic acid is renowned for its positive impact on heart health (1, 2).
Argan oil provides a good source of linoleic and oleic fatty acids, two fats known to support good health. It also boasts high levels of vitamin E.
2. Has Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Properties
The various phenolic compounds in argan oil are likely responsible for most of its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory capacities.
Argan oil is rich in vitamin E, or tocopherol, a fat-soluble vitamin that serves as a potent antioxidant to reduce the damaging effects of free radicals (1).
A recent study revealed a significant reduction in inflammatory markers in mice fed argan oil prior to exposure to a highly inflammatory liver toxin, compared to the control group (6).
Additionally, some research indicates that argan oil can also be applied directly to your skin to reduce inflammation caused by injuries or infections (7).
Although these results are encouraging, more research is needed to understand how argan oil can be used medicinally in humans to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress.
Multiple compounds in argan oil may help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, though more research is needed.
3. May Boost Heart Health
Argan oil is a rich source of oleic acid, which is a monounsaturated, omega-9 fat (1).
In another small human study, a higher intake of argan oil was associated with lower levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol and higher blood levels of antioxidants (10).
In a study on heart disease risk in 40 healthy people, those who consumed 15 grams of argan oil daily for 30 days experienced a 16% and 20% reduction in "bad" LDL and triglyceride levels, respectively (11).
Although these results are promising, larger studies are necessary to better understand how argan oil may support heart health in humans.
Argan oil's fatty acids and antioxidants may help reduce heart disease risk, though more research is needed.
4. May Have Benefits for Diabetes
Some early animal research indicates argan oil may help prevent diabetes.
These studies largely attributed these benefits to the antioxidant content of the oil.
However, such results do not necessarily imply that the same effects would be seen in humans. Therefore, human research is needed.
Some animal studies indicate argan oil may reduce blood sugar and insulin resistance to help prevent diabetes. That said, human studies are lacking.
5. May Have Anticancer Effects
Argan oil may slow the growth and reproduction of certain cancer cells.
One test-tube study applied polyphenolic compounds from argan oil to prostate cancer cells. The extract inhibited cancer cell growth by 50% compared to the control group (14).
In another test-tube study, a pharmaceutical-grade mixture of argan oil and vitamin E increased the rate of cell death on breast and colon cancer cell samples (15).
Although this preliminary research is intriguing, more research is needed to determine whether argan oil could be used to treat cancer in humans.
Some test-tube studies revealed potential cancer-fighting effects of argan oil, though more studies are needed.
6. May Reduce Signs of Skin Aging
Argan oil has quickly become a popular ingredient for many skin care products.
Some research suggests that dietary intake of argan oil may help slow the aging process by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress (16).
Ultimately, more human research is needed.
A few small studies indicate that argan oil may be effective at reducing signs of aging, either when ingested or applied directly to your skin.
7. May Treat Some Skin Conditions
Argan oil has been a popular home remedy for treating inflammatory skin conditions for decades — especially in North Africa, where argan trees originate.
Although there's limited scientific evidence supporting argan oil's ability to treat specific skin infections, it is still frequently used for this purpose.
Keep in mind that more research is needed.
While argan oil has been traditionally used to treat skin infections, there is limited evidence to support this. That said, anti-inflammatory compounds may benefit skin tissue.
8. May Promote Wound Healing
Argan oil may accelerate the wound healing process.
One animal study revealed a significant increase in wound healing in rats given argan oil on their second-degree burns twice daily for 14 days (19).
Although this data doesn't prove anything with certainty, it does indicate a possible role for argan oil in wound healing and tissue repair.
That said, human research is needed.
In one animal study, argan oil applied to burn wounds accelerated healing. However, human research is needed.
9. May Moisturize Skin and Hair
Argan oil is often directly administered to skin and hair but may also be effective when ingested.
In one study, both oral and topical applications of argan oil improved the moisture content of the skin in postmenopausal women (18).
Although there isn't any research on the specific use of argan oil for hair health, some studies indicate that other plant oils with a comparable nutritional profile may reduce split ends and other types of hair damage (21).
Argan oil is popularly used to moisturize skin and hair. Some research indicates the fatty acids in argan oil may support healthy, hydrated skin and reduce hair damage.
10. Often Used to Treat and Prevent Stretch Marks
Argan oil is frequently used to prevent and reduce stretch marks, although no research has been conducted to prove its efficacy.
In fact, there is no strong evidence that any kind of topical treatment is an effective tool for stretch mark reduction (22).
However, research does indicate that argan oil may help reduce inflammation and improve the elasticity of skin — which could be why so many people report success in using it for stretch marks (7, 17).
Argan oil is often used as a remedy for treating stretch marks, although no scientific data supports this.
11. Sometimes Used to Treat Acne
Some sources claim argan oil to be an effective treatment for acne, although no rigorous scientific research supports this.
The oil also may contribute to skin hydration, which is important for acne prevention (18).
Whether argan oil is effective in treating your acne likely depends on its cause. If you struggle with dry skin or general irritation, argan oil may provide a solution. However, if your acne is caused by hormones, argan oil will not likely provide significant relief.
Though some people claim that argan oil is effective for treating acne, no studies support this. However, it may reduce redness and soothe irritation caused by acne.
12. Easy to Add to Your Routine
As argan oil has become increasingly popular, it's easier than ever to add it to your health and beauty routine.
It is widely available in most major grocery stores, drug stores and online retailers.
Argan oil is usually used topically in its pure form — but also frequently included in cosmetic products like lotions and skin creams.
While it can be applied directly to your skin, it may be best to start with a very small amount to ensure that you won't have any adverse reactions.
You can apply argan oil directly to damp or dry hair to improve moisture, reduce breakage, or reduce frizz.
It is also sometimes included in shampoos or conditioners.
If it's your first time using it, start with a small amount to see how your hair responds. If you have naturally oily roots, apply argan only to the ends of your hair to avoid greasy-looking hair.
If you're interested in using argan oil with food, look for varieties specifically marketed for cooking, or make sure you're buying 100% pure argan oil.
Argan oil marketed for cosmetic purposes may be mixed with other ingredients that you shouldn't ingest.
Because of its recent rise in popularity, argan oil is widely available and easy to use for skin, hair and food.
The Bottom Line
Argan oil has been used for centuries for a variety of culinary, cosmetic and medicinal purposes.
It is rich in essential nutrients, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds.
Early research indicates that argan oil may help prevent chronic illnesses, including heart disease, diabetes and cancer. It may also treat a variety of skin conditions.
While current research cannot definitively state that argan oil is effective for treating any of these conditions, many people report desirable results after using it.
If you're curious about argan oil, it's easy to find and start using today.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.
By Dana M Bergstrom, Euan Ritchie, Lesley Hughes and Michael Depledge
In 1992, 1,700 scientists warned that human beings and the natural world were "on a collision course." Seventeen years later, scientists described planetary boundaries within which humans and other life could have a "safe space to operate." These are environmental thresholds, such as the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and changes in land use.
The Good and Bad News<p><span>Ecosystems consist of living and non-living components, and their interactions. They work like a super-complex engine: when some components are removed or stop working, knock-on consequences can lead to system failure.</span></p><p>Our study is based on measured data and observations, not modeling or predictions for the future. Encouragingly, not all ecosystems we examined have collapsed across their entire range. We still have, for instance, some intact reefs on the Great Barrier Reef, especially in deeper waters. And northern Australia has some of the most intact and least-modified stretches of savanna woodlands on Earth.</p><p><span>Still, collapses are happening, including in regions critical for growing food. This includes the </span><a href="https://www.mdba.gov.au/importance-murray-darling-basin/where-basin" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Murray-Darling Basin</a><span>, which covers around 14% of Australia's landmass. Its rivers and other freshwater systems support more than </span><a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/[email protected]/latestproducts/94F2007584736094CA2574A50014B1B6?opendocument" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">30% of Australia's food</a><span> production.</span></p><p><span></span><span>The effects of floods, fires, heatwaves and storms do not stop at farm gates; they're felt equally in agricultural areas and natural ecosystems. We shouldn't forget how towns ran out of </span><a href="https://www.mdba.gov.au/issues-murray-darling-basin/drought#effects" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">drinking water</a><span> during the recent drought.</span></p><p><span></span><span>Drinking water is also at risk when ecosystems collapse in our water catchments. In Victoria, for example, the degradation of giant </span><a href="https://theconversation.com/logging-must-stop-in-melbournes-biggest-water-supply-catchment-106922" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Mountain Ash forests</a><span> greatly reduces the amount of water flowing through the Thompson catchment, threatening nearly five million people's drinking water in Melbourne.</span></p><p>This is a dire <em data-redactor-tag="em">wake-up</em> call — not just a <em data-redactor-tag="em">warning</em>. Put bluntly, current changes across the continent, and their potential outcomes, pose an existential threat to our survival, and other life we share environments with.</p><p><span>In investigating patterns of collapse, we found most ecosystems experience multiple, concurrent pressures from both global climate change and regional human impacts (such as land clearing). Pressures are often </span><a href="https://besjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/1365-2664.13427" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">additive and extreme</a><span>.</span></p><p>Take the last 11 years in Western Australia as an example.</p><p>In the summer of 2010 and 2011, a <a href="https://theconversation.com/marine-heatwaves-are-getting-hotter-lasting-longer-and-doing-more-damage-95637" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">heatwave</a> spanning more than 300,000 square kilometers ravaged both marine and land ecosystems. The extreme heat devastated forests and woodlands, kelp forests, seagrass meadows and coral reefs. This catastrophe was followed by two cyclones.</p><p>A record-breaking, marine heatwave in late 2019 dealt a further blow. And another marine heatwave is predicted for <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/dec/24/wa-coastline-facing-marine-heatwave-in-early-2021-csiro-predicts" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">this April</a>.</p>
What to Do About It?<p><span>Our brains trust comprises 38 experts from 21 universities, CSIRO and the federal Department of Agriculture Water and Environment. Beyond quantifying and reporting more doom and gloom, we asked the question: what can be done?</span></p><p>We devised a simple but tractable scheme called the 3As:</p><ul><li>Awareness of what is important</li><li>Anticipation of what is coming down the line</li><li>Action to stop the pressures or deal with impacts.</li></ul><p>In our paper, we identify positive actions to help protect or restore ecosystems. Many are already happening. In some cases, ecosystems might be better left to recover by themselves, such as coral after a cyclone.</p><p>In other cases, active human intervention will be required – for example, placing artificial nesting boxes for Carnaby's black cockatoos in areas where old trees have been <a href="https://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/factsheet-carnabys-black-cockatoo-calyptorhynchus-latirostris" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">removed</a>.</p><p><span>"Future-ready" actions are also vital. This includes reinstating </span><a href="https://www.abc.net.au/gardening/factsheets/a-burning-question-fire/12395700" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cultural burning practices</a><span>, which have </span><a href="https://theconversation.com/australia-you-have-unfinished-business-its-time-to-let-our-fire-people-care-for-this-land-135196" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">multiple values and benefits for Aboriginal communities</a><span> and can help minimize the risk and strength of bushfires.</span></p><p>It might also include replanting banks along the Murray River with species better suited to <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/gardening/factsheets/my-garden-path---matt-hansen/12322978" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">warmer conditions</a>.</p><p>Some actions may be small and localized, but have substantial positive benefits.</p><p>For example, billions of migrating Bogong moths, the main summer food for critically endangered mountain pygmy possums, have not arrived in their typical numbers in Australian alpine regions in recent years. This was further exacerbated by the <a href="https://theconversation.com/six-million-hectares-of-threatened-species-habitat-up-in-smoke-129438" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2019-20</a> fires. Brilliantly, <a href="https://www.zoo.org.au/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Zoos Victoria</a> anticipated this pressure and developed supplementary food — <a href="https://theconversation.com/looks-like-an-anzac-biscuit-tastes-like-a-protein-bar-bogong-bikkies-help-mountain-pygmy-possums-after-fire-131045" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Bogong bikkies</a>.</p><p><span>Other more challenging, global or large-scale actions must address the </span><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iICpI9H0GkU&t=34s" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">root cause of environmental threats</a><span>, such as </span><a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41559-018-0504-8" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">human population growth and per-capita consumption</a><span> of environmental resources.</span><br></p><p>We must rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero, remove or suppress invasive species such as <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/mam.12080" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">feral cats</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-buffel-kerfuffle-how-one-species-quietly-destroys-native-wildlife-and-cultural-sites-in-arid-australia-149456" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">buffel grass</a>, and stop widespread <a href="https://theconversation.com/to-reduce-fire-risk-and-meet-climate-targets-over-300-scientists-call-for-stronger-land-clearing-laws-113172" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">land clearing</a> and other forms of habitat destruction.</p>
Our Lives Depend On It<p>The multiple ecosystem collapses we have documented in Australia are a harbinger for <a href="https://www.iucn.org/news/protected-areas/202102/natures-future-our-future-world-speaks" target="_blank">environments globally</a>.</p><p>The simplicity of the 3As is to show people <em>can</em> do something positive, either at the local level of a landcare group, or at the level of government departments and conservation agencies.</p><p>Our lives and those of our <a href="https://theconversation.com/children-are-our-future-and-the-planets-heres-how-you-can-teach-them-to-take-care-of-it-113759" target="_blank">children</a>, as well as our <a href="https://theconversation.com/taking-care-of-business-the-private-sector-is-waking-up-to-natures-value-153786" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">economies</a>, societies and <a href="https://theconversation.com/to-address-the-ecological-crisis-aboriginal-peoples-must-be-restored-as-custodians-of-country-108594" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cultures</a>, depend on it.</p><p>We simply cannot afford any further delay.</p><p><em><a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/dana-m-bergstrom-1008495" target="_blank" style="">Dana M Bergstrom</a> is a principal research scientist at the University of Wollongong. <a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/euan-ritchie-735" target="_blank" style="">Euan Ritchie</a> is a professor in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, Centre for Integrative Ecology, School of Life & Environmental Sciences at Deakin University. <a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lesley-hughes-5823" target="_blank">Lesley Hughes</a> is a professor at the Department of Biological Sciences at Macquarie University. <a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/michael-depledge-114659" target="_blank">Michael Depledge</a> is a professor and chair, Environment and Human Health, at the University of Exeter. </em></p><p><em>Disclosure statements: Dana Bergstrom works for the Australian Antarctic Division and is a Visiting Fellow at the University of Wollongong. Her research including fieldwork on Macquarie Island and in Antarctica was supported by the Australian Antarctic Division.</em></p><p><em>Euan Ritchie receives funding from the Australian Research Council, The Australia and Pacific Science Foundation, Australian Geographic, Parks Victoria, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, and the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC. Euan Ritchie is a Director (Media Working Group) of the Ecological Society of Australia, and a member of the Australian Mammal Society.</em></p><p><em>Lesley Hughes receives funding from the Australian Research Council. She is a Councillor with the Climate Council of Australia, a member of the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists and a Director of WWF-Australia.</em></p><p><em>Michael Depledge does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.</em></p><p><em>Reposted with permission from <a href="https://theconversation.com/existential-threat-to-our-survival-see-the-19-australian-ecosystems-already-collapsing-154077" target="_blank" style="">The Conversation</a>. </em></p>
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