Tripod Thursday- Aragon Oil Separating Fact From Hype

While trying to answer a question for my Mother, I searched several web site "reviews"of Aragon oil. I put the word "reviews" in quotation marks, because the ones that I found were eerily similar, and reaked of a sales pitch, complete with a "proof" picture that had a woman clearly frowning in the first view and not in the he wrinkles were supposedly improved due to the oil. I really hate scams, but I know how good some oils truly are, So I set out to determine what was hype and what was real.

Aragon oil is golden colored, with a light, distinctive, slightly nutty and fatty odor. The oil is expeller pressed from the fruit kernels of the argan tree, which is native Morocco. This tree was first reported by explorer Leo Africanus, in 1510. We know that an early specimen was taken to Amsterdam and cultivated by Lady Beaufort, at Badminton House in 1711. However, much of the oil is still produced in Morocco, where the tree grows wild, with a deep root system, making it quite helpful in fighting soil erosion.The tree is extremely well adapted to drought, as well as other environmentally harsh conditions which are natural to southwestern Morocco. While the species Argania once covered the whole of North Africa, it is now endangered, and under the protection of UNESCO. The majority of Aragan oil sales go through a cooperative that shares the profits among the Berber tribe. This cooperative has established an ecosystem reforestation project, ensuring that the supply of oil will not run out and also that the income will continue to be generated. According to the Moroccan Department of Water and Forests, Argan oil production provides 20 million workdays a year, and income for 3 million people in the southern part of the kingdom. Because the vast majority of all Aragan oil sold today comes from a small, specific growing area, it is arguably one of the rarest oils in the world.

Traditionally, the Berbers of Morocco collected undigested Argan  pits from the dung of goats which ate the fruit. The pits were then ground and pressed into oil, which was used in both cooking and cosmetics. Although the videos with many of the "review" sites shows the Berbers hand milling the oil, from what I understand, the oil that is used today has most likely been harvested directly from the tree, and processed with machines. In addition to this method sounding more sanitary, With mechanical presses, the mixing of the dough with water is unnecessary, therefore eliminated. The dough can be directly pressed so production time is sped up. There is one issue though, I have seen references that state that this oil is made by combining crushed roasted almonds with the Aragon pits. This is a potential hazard for someone with a nut oil allergy, and needs more investigation before using.
The shelf life of this oil is anywhere from a year and a half to two years, if it is stored under 77 degrees F. and away from sunlight. Some is for cosmetic use only, and some is safe for food use as well. You will have to trust your vendor as to what you can do with the oil you buy. I would only buy this oil from a TRUSTED vendor though, as I saw many references to adulterated Aragon oil. Not sure if yours is pure? Accordingto Wikkipedia, try placing it in the refrigerator. If it remains liquid and appears cloudy you have an adulterated oil. This oil should become semi-solid when it's refrigerated.

Aragan oil is comprised of about 42-48% fatty acids, 30-38% linoleic acid, and 12-16% palmitic acid. Additionally, it is also rich in Vitamin E, phenols and squalene. It is quickly absorbed by teh skin, and is said to reduce scarring, prevent/decrease stretch marks, strengthen hair and nails, and heal many skin conditions such as psorisis and eczema. While the small growing area plays a part in its cost, I surmise that the attention brought to it by  Oprah helped to propell the cost. The majority of sites that I have seen are selling one ounce of oil for between $18-$48. Since I am unable to confirm studies on this oil, personally, I am looking to other oils to meet my needs.While meadowfoam seed oil is a bit higher than many oils, it is also very high in fatty acids, rich in vitamins and minerals, and the big bonus? It is an economically and ecologically beneficial crop, and is grown in the USA. You can read more about it here. When looking for a great, yet less expenisve alternative to the meadowfoam, I think that where sweet almond oil and jojoba seed oil don't do the job, avocado oil, hemp seed oil, and grape seed oil will. And all at a cost that is significantly less than the Aragon, and they also can be sourced much more easily. Of course it's all up to you, but I urge caution and suggest further research before paying the price for all the hype.

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