A trip to Morocco led me to the door of a leading herbalist who after some questioning welcomed me as a colleague.
My introduction to the oil at breakfast started me on my journey through the customs, festivals, folklore and harvest of this magical nut.
I learned that Argan oil is used topically to restore dry skin and to soothe eczema and acne. It is taken internally to protect the heart, liver and gall bladder, lower cholesterol and relieve joint pain. In the countryside new born babies are fed an infusion of Argan oil and herbs for their first 40 days of life to enhance their immune systems.
Believed to date back to the Tertiary period and once to have covered north Africa, the argan grows wild in semi - desert soil and is protected by UNESCO as a Biosphere Heritage. The trees fall under the remit of the Moroccan Forestry Commission and its guards who patrol the forests to ensure no damage is done by the hardy goats who clamber up the trees for the fruit or by camels munching the leaves and stunting their growth. In previous years a decline of 50-60,000 hectares per year has been common. This has been halted by the creation of reserves and fencing around seedlings leading to no losses for 3 years and the beginnings of a slight increase. The Argan was first mentioned in 1219 by a leading Egyptian physician and by Leo Africanus the explorer who gave Africa its name.
Here I relate my experiences, the history of this ancient tree and explain the properties of Argan oil. You will find recipes for the food oil, information on its uses for skin care and research articles. I do hope you enjoy this book, Ruth Hajioff