Argan – designation
The argan tree, or spiny argania (Argania spinosa) is also known as Elaeodendron argan or Morocco ironwood and belongs to the Argania genus, itself part of the Sapotaceae family. As a monotypic tree, it is unique in the true meaning of the word, because it has no relatives.
By the standards of our limited human imaginations, the argan tree is unbelievably ancient, a relic from the Tertiary, the first period of the Cenozoic Era. Scientists hypothesize that the argan tree was also widespread in southern Europe and across North Africa during the Cretaceous period.
Today, the argan tree grows only in southwest Morocco, within an area of approximately 8000 square kilometres, which was reason enough for UNESCO to protect the entire area and declare it as a Biosphere Reserve in 1998. The argan tree, with its gift of this special, healthy oil, is one of the oldest in the world.
Argan – description
The argan tree grows up to 15 metres tall and the crown can have a circumference of nearly 70 metres. The picturesque argan tree with its small red-yellow fruits makes a lasting impression. One single argan tree can live for between 150 and 200 years; the Moroccan Berbers reverentially call it the tree of life.
The argan is a survival wizard: its roots grow up to 30 metres deep, meaning that it can find water in its dry homeland at any time. The deeply branched root system also strengthens the ground and prevents desertification and soil erosion.
It also successfully uses less water during the long dry season by powering down its “activities”; fruit development slows a little. If the climatic conditions change, its life force fully reawakens.
Argan – processing
Precious organic argan oil is extracted from the hard seeds of the argan fruit, as soon as they ripen in June, July and August, though the fruits need to fall from the tree themselves. Harvesting must wait until they do.
The lion’s share of the healthy oil is still extracted by hand, as it always has been; the painstaking and careful work done by the women of the region. Only in this way will the precious active substances be retained in the synergy that nature intended. To produce 1 litre of argan oil, you need the fruit from 6-8 argan trees and two whole working days.
The knowledge passed down over centuries was recognized as intangible cultural heritage by the UNESCO Convention in 2014. This relates to this impressive tree and the mindful processing of its fruit. This is why the Berber women are treated with the greatest of respect. They work tirelessly to ensure that the seeds are harvested gently and processed carefully.
How it works and how it is used
Precious organic argan oil has many uses: in naturopathy, medicine, cosmetics and even in cooking. The healthy oil contains over 80% unsaturated fatty acids, such as the linoleic acid which is very helpful for skin irritations caused by neurodermatitis, psoriasis, acne and sun-damaged skin, acting as a natural cell protector. When used for rheumatic and arthritic complaints, the anti-inflammatory active substances may also have a positive effect on the symptoms.
Argan oil is rich in vitamin E, an antioxidant. Antioxidants capture free radicals, leaving the skin’s vitality and elasticity unaffected. Organic argan oil is a fountain of youth for your skin and hair.
Argan – traditional uses
Morocco’s Berbers have used this healthy oil for medicinal purposes since time immemorial: for stomach and bowel problems, cardiovascular issues, sunburn and to disinfect wounds. Traditional medicinal knowledge also uses argan oil on acne, eczema, neurodermatitis, rheumatism, painful joints and haemorrhoids. It was indispensable in the kitchen and very popular in skincare.