Argan Oil

January 18, 2012 Written by JP       [Font too small?]

If you’re a consumer of natural hair and skin care products, you’ve probably noticed more and more creams, lotions and shampoos containing argan oil. And, while this may be a relatively new development in your part of the world, it’s actually old news in select Mediterranean countries such as Algeria and Morocco. There, argan oil has been used therapeutically for more than eight centuries. But, what does modern science have to say about this economically and historically important beauty aid and nutritional oil?

According to the September 2011 issue of the journal Alternative Medicine Review, “Traditionally, argan oil was used extensively in Morocco as a topical oil to treat various ailments such as dry skin, acne, psoriasis, eczema, wrinkles, joint pain, and skin inflammation”. Recent inquiries into the chemical composition of argan suggest that these historical observations may be attributable to various antioxidants (polyphenols and Vitamin E) and fatty acids (mostly linoleic and oleic acid). In addition, in November 2011, a report presented in the Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry revealed that virgin argan oil contains melatonin and CoQ10, potent free radical fighters. Both of these antioxidants have been shown to benefit skin quality when applied topically. However, I could only find one published study examining the topical effects of this revered oil. Nonetheless, the results of this solitary trial demonstrated a positive effect of a cream containing argan oil, saw palmetto extract and sesame seeds in volunteers with oily skin.

What’s most interesting about argan oil is that the vast majority of the research conducted on it doesn’t pertain to hair or skin conditions at all. Rather, cardiovascular disease is the usual consideration. Several, controlled studies report that supplementing with 1 to 2 tablespoons of virgin argan oil daily decreases various risk factors associated with heart disease including high LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, oxidized cholesterol and triglycerides. A marked elevation in HDL (“good”) cholesterol and improved plasma and cellular antioxidant profiles have also been noted. Collectively, these findings have lead some researchers to conclude that, “VAO (virgin argan oil) offers an additional natural food supplement to reduce cardiovascular risk”.

Presently, VAO isn’t widely available as a culinary oil or edible-grade ingredient. Cost and sustainability issues are the primary factors that currently limit its commercial viability. Fortunately, the health benefits conferred by argan oil can also be attained by eating other similar foods and oils (avocados, virgin olive oil) that are easier to find and less expensive. As for the promise of argan-based hair and skin care products, there appears to be some basis for their consideration. My hope is that further studies will help to separate the facts from the hype.

Note: Please check out the “Comments & Updates” section of this blog – at the bottom of the page. You can find the latest research about this topic there!

To learn more about the studies referenced in today’s column, please click on the following links:

Study 1 – Argan Oil (PDF File) (link)

Study 2 - Therapeutic Potential of Argan Oil: A Review (link)

Study 3 – Determination of Coenzyme Q10, Coenzyme Q9, and Melatonin(link)

Study 4 - Novel Formulation and Evaluation of a Q10-Loaded Solid Lipid (link)

Study 5 - Modern Approach to Topical Treatment of Aging Skin (link)

Study 6 - Clinical and Instrumental Study of the Efficacy of a New Sebum (link)

Study 7 - Argan Oil Exerts an Antiatherogenic Effect by Improving Lipids (link)

Study 8 - Argan Oil Improves Surrogate Markers of CVD in Humans (link)

Study 9 - Consumption of Argan Oil May Have an Antiatherogenic Effect (link)

Study 10 - Nutritional Intervention Study with Argan Oil in Man (link)

Virgin Argan Oil Lowers Cardiovascular Risk Factors

Source: Int J Endocrinol. 2011; 2011: 747835. (link)

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Posted in Alternative Therapies, Food and Drink, Heart Health

4 Comments & Updates to “Argan Oil”

  1. JP Says:

    Update: 04/13/15

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4321565/

    Clin Interv Aging. 2015 Jan 30;10:339-49.

    The effect of dietary and/or cosmetic argan oil on postmenopausal skin elasticity.

    BACKGROUND: During menopause, the decrease of estrogenic secretion induces the disruption of skin functioning, thus causing the decline in skin elasticity characteristic of skin aging. The purpose of this study was to evaluate in postmenopausal women the effect of daily consumption and/or application of argan oil on skin elasticity.

    MATERIALS AND METHODS: Sixty postmenopausal women consumed butter during the stabilization period and were randomly divided into two groups for the intervention period: the treatment group of 30 participants received dietary argan oil, the control group of 30 participants received olive oil, and both groups applied cosmetic argan oil in the left volar forearm during a 60-day period. Assessments of skin elasticity parameters, ie, the three R-parameters (R2 or gross-elasticity of the skin, R5 or net elasticity of the skin, and R7 or biological elasticity), and the resonance running time (RRT) at both volar forearms of the two groups were performed during three visits: before starting oils consumption and application, after 30 days of oils consumption and application, and after 60 days of oils consumption and application.

    RESULTS: The consumption of argan oil led to a significant increase of gross-elasticity of the skin (R2) (P<0.001), net elasticity of the skin (R5) (P<0.001), biological elasticity (R7) (P<0.001), and a significant decrease of RRT (P=0.002). The application of argan oil led to a significant increase of gross-elasticity of the skin (R2) (P<0.001), net elasticity of the skin (R5) (P<0.001), biological elasticity (R7) (P=0.001), and a significant decrease of RRT (P<0.001).

    CONCLUSION: Our findings suggest that the daily consumption and/or topical application of argan oil have an anti-aging effect on the skin demonstrated by the improvement of skin elasticity, characterized by an increase of R-parameters (R2, R5, and R7) and a decrease of RRT.

    Be well!

    JP

  2. JP Says:

    Update 06/30/15:

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ptr.5405/abstract

    Phytother Res. 2015 Jun 23.

    Consumption of Argan Oil Improves Anti-Oxidant and Lipid Status in Hemodialysis Patients.

    OBJECTIVE: Virgin Argan oil (VAO) is of interest in oxidative stress and lipid profile because of its fat composition and antioxidant compounds. We investigated the effect of VAO consumption on lipid profile and antioxidant status in hemodialysis patients after a 4-week period of consumption.

    METHODS: In a crossover, controlled trial, 37 patients (18 men, 19 women) with end-stage renal disease on maintenance hemodialysis, were randomly assigned to a 4-week VAO diet. Fasting plasma lipids, vitamin E and oxidized LDL (ox-LDL) were analyzed. Malondialdehyde (MDA) was determined before and after hemodialysis session.

    RESULTS: There was no significant change in serum total cholesterol and ox-LDL. However, VAO consumption decreased the levels of triglyceride (p = 0.03), total cholesterol (p = 0.02) and low-density lipoprotein (p = 0.03) and increased the levels of high-density lipoprotein (p = 0.01). Plasma vitamin E contents significantly increased from baseline only in VAO-group (p < 0.001). Hemodialysis session increased MDA levels, but the increase in VAO group was less than in control group.

    CONCLUSION: VAO consumption improved lipid profile and oxidative stress status in hemodialysis patients.

    Be well!

    JP

  3. JP Says:

    Updated 06/17/16:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4520377/

    Prz Menopauzalny. 2014 Oct;13(5):280-8.

    Skin hydration in postmenopausal women: argan oil benefit with oral and/or topical use.

    THE AIM OF THIS STUDY: The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of daily consumption and/or application of argan oil on skin hydration in postmenopausal women.

    MATERIAL AND METHODS: Sixty postmenopausal women consumed butter during the stabilization period and were randomly divided into two groups for the intervention period: the treatment group absorbed alimentary argan oil (n = 30) and the control group olive oil (n = 30). Both groups applied cosmetic argan oil in the left volar forearm during a sixty days’ period. Evaluation of skin hydration, i.e. transepidermal water loss (TEWL) and water content of the epidermis (WCE) on both volar forearms of the two groups, were performed during three visits at D0, D30 and after sixty days (D60) of oils treatment.

    RESULTS: The consumption of argan oil has led to a significant decrease in TEWL (p = 0.023) and a significant increase in WCE (p = 0.001). The application of argan oil has led to a significant decrease in TEWL (p = 0.01) and a significant increase in WCE (p < 0.001).

    CONCLUSIONS: Our findings suggest that the daily consumption and application of argan oil have improved the skin hydration by restoring the barrier function and maintaining the water-holding capacity.

    Be well!

    JP

  4. JP Says:

    Updated 12/09/16:

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27917705

    Curr Rheumatol Rev. 2016 Dec 4.

    Efficacy of Argane oil on metabolic syndrome in a Moroccan knee osteoarthritis population.

    Five medical conditions characterizes metabolic syndrome: abdominal obesity, elevated blood pressure, elevated fasting plasma glucose, high serum triglycerides, and low high-density lipoproteins cholesterol. When a patient has three of the five above parameters, he is called to have metabolic syndrome, and these conditions represents a key element in cardiovascular diseases. On the other hand, knee osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease which was shown to be affected by some of the parameters of metabolic syndrome. Edible Argane oil is used in Moroccan folk medicine against several health conditions, such as knee osteoarthritis, though, evidence-based medical data about the above health benefit from Argane oil treatment are lacking. In the present clinical controlled study, we have found that consumption of Argane oil by 38 patients who have knee osteoarthritis and metabolic syndrome can improve several of their metabolic syndrome parameters and decrease their blood lipid atherogenic ratios. The present clinical study, to the best of our knowledge, is the first one to show that Argane oil consumption could be a therapeutic preventive tool against key cardiovascular risk factors of metabolic syndrome in knee osteoarthritis patients.

    Be well!

    JP

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