Updated: May 28
Traveling medicine shows became popular in the United States in the mid 1800’s and continued in popularity into the 20th century. The “Medicine Man” would bring a variety of entertainers with him to attract a crowd. Once the crowd assembled and was enjoying the acts, the Medicine Man would step up and entertain the crowd with his storytelling ability and his pitch for an elixir with a miracle cure.
The Medicine Man was not a doctor, although he often referred to himself as Doctor or Professor. He claimed his product would cure everything—from baldness to arthritis to physical disabilities. Unbeknownst to the audience, Medicine Men had sidekicks posing as audience members who would step forward with an ailment, like a limp, ingest the medicine and be cured instantly.
As I was sitting in a spice shop in a Marrakesh market, I couldn’t help but to think of traveling medicine shows. The elixir—Argan Oil. The Medicine Man—a very articulate sales person in a white lab coat. A small group of us were seated in rapt attention as he described the curative powered of the oil. He passed samples around for us to rub on skin spots. Yes, this will make then go away. Arthritic pain? No problem. And on and on. While I don’t dispute the benefits of argan oil for dry skin (it really is a nice oil), the pitch was a bit over the top. He was a great storyteller—quite entertaining.
I later learned that the traditional method for making argan oil is to collect the feces from goats who eat the fruit of the argan tree, pick out the indigestible seeds, and crack the seeds to get oil. Modern production of argan oil is turning more and more to collecting the seeds directly, thus bypassing the goat. If you want to try argan oil, you don’t need to go to Morocco. It is widely available in the US and Europe. However, Morocco is an amazing place, so you might want to get your argan oil at the source!