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Argan Oil

Health Benefits, Uses, Side Effects & More

By

Updated May 16, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Argan Oil
Laura Johansen Collection/Photodisc/Getty Images

Argan oil is a natural product sourced from the kernels of the Argania spinosa tree (a species native to Morocco). Rich in essential fatty acids and antioxidants (including vitamin E), argan oil is often marketed as an anti-aging aid for the skin. In addition, consumption of argan oil is said to help with certain health conditions.

Uses for Argan Oil

Here's a look at some common uses for argan oil:

1) Skin

Proponents claim that argan oil can treat a broad range of skin conditions, including acne, eczema, infections, and psoriasis. Additionally, argan oil is said to prevent and/or reverse aging-related damage when applied to the skin. Argan oil is also frequently used as a massage oil.

2) Hair

Argan oil is touted as a natural treatment for dry hair, split ends, and scalp-health issues (such as dry scalp and dandruff).

Also learn about Biotin for Hair.

3) Nails

Thought to strengthen nails, argan oil is sometimes recommended for treatment of brittle nails.

Related: Biotin for Nails.

4) Health

Some proponents suggest that consumption of argan oil can help treat or prevent certain health conditions, including osteoarthritis, high blood pressure, diabetes, and atherosclerosis.

Benefits of Argan Oil

To date, few scientific studies have tested the effects of argan oil. While there is a lack of research on argan oil's benefits for skin, hair, and nails, preliminary studies indicate that argan oil may enhance health when taken orally. In tests on rats, for instance, scientists have shown that consumption of argan oil may fight insulin resistance, protect against obesity-related health problems, and lower blood pressure.

One of the few clinical trials to test the potential benefits of argan oil, a 2005 report from Nutrition, Metabolism, and Cardiovascular Diseases found that use of argan oil supplements may aid in the prevention of heart disease. For the study, 60 young men consumed 25 ml of either argan oil or extra virgin olive oil every day for three weeks. Study results showed that both oils helped improve participants' antioxidant status (an effect that could help reduce cardiovascular risk, according to the study's authors).

However, more research is needed before consumption of argan oil is recommended for prevention or treatment of any health condition.

Forms of Argan Oil

Since argan trees are native to Morocco, argan oil products are frequently referred to as "Moroccan Argan Oil." In Morocco, argan oil has long been used as a topical treatment for skin problems.

Argan oil is used as an ingredient in a variety of personal-care products, including creams, lotions, serums, facial masks, shampoos, and conditioners. You can also purchase pure argan oil that includes no added ingredients.

Where To Find Argan Oil

Argan oil and argan-oil-based products can be found in many natural-foods stores and specialty beauty stores, as well as in some drugstores.

Sources

Berrougui H, Alvarez de Sotomayor M, Pérez-Guerrero C, Ettaib A, Hmamouchi M, Marhuenda E, Herrera MD. "Argan (Argania spinosa) oil lowers blood pressure and improves endothelial dysfunction in spontaneously hypertensive rats." Br J Nutr. 2004 Dec;92(6):921-9.

Cherki M, Berrougui H, Drissi A, Adlouni A, Khalil A. "Argan oil: which benefits on cardiovascular diseases?" Pharmacol Res. 2006 Jul;54(1):1-5.

Cherki M, Derouiche A, Drissi A, El Messal M, Bamou Y, Idrissi-Ouadghiri A, Khalil A, Adlouni A. "Consumption of argan oil may have an antiatherogenic effect by improving paraoxonase activities and antioxidant status: Intervention study in healthy men." Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2005 Oct;15(5):352-60.

Monfalouti HE, Guillaume D, Denhez C, Charrouf Z. "Therapeutic potential of argan oil: a review." J Pharm Pharmacol. 2010 Dec;62(12):1669-75. doi: 10.1111/j.2042-7158.2010.01190.x.

Samane S, Christon R, Dombrowski L, Turcotte S, Charrouf Z, Lavigne C, Levy E, Bachelard H, Amarouch H, Marette A, Haddad PS. "Fish oil and argan oil intake differently modulate insulin resistance and glucose intolerance in a rat model of dietary-induced obesity." Metabolism. 2009 Jul;58(7):909-19.

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