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Jojoba nuts are harvested for jojoba oil

What is Jojoba Anyway?

What are the benefits of jojoba?

This distinctively named oil first went mainstream as it entered popular culture in the 1980s. But what is jojoba anyway?

Jojoba oil has been used for both medicinal and cosmetic purposes for centuries. Native Americans have been using it to treat various ailments such as skin and scalp disorders, superficial wounds, sore throat, obesity, and cancer. The O'odham people of the Sonoran Desert treated burns with an antioxidant salve made from a paste of the jojoba nut.

Jojoba oil is reported to have anti-inflammatory activity, as well as antimicrobial and anti-fungal/insecticidal properties. It has a long-standing history for promoting wound healing.

Jojoba oil is widely used in the pharmaceutical industry, especially in cosmetics for topical, transdermal, and parenteral preparations. It is considered among the top-ranked oils due to its wax, which constitutes about 98% (mainly wax esters, few free fatty acids, alcohols, and hydrocarbons). In addition, sterols and vitamins with few triglyceride esters, flavonoids, phenolic and cyanogenic compounds are also present.

The jojoba plant (Simmondsia chinensis) is a drought-resistant shrub that is native to the Sonoran Desert in the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico. It is a perennial plant that can grow up to three meters tall and has a deep root system that can reach up to 30 meters in depth. The plant has a woody stem and grey-green leaves that are oval-shaped and leathery in texture. Jojoba produces small, greenish-yellow flowers that are either male or female. The female flowers develop into a fruit that contains one to three seeds.

Jojoba foliage provides year-round food for many animals, including deer, javelina, bighorn sheep, and livestock. Its nuts are eaten by squirrels, rabbits, other rodents, and larger birds.

 Jojoba farm in southwestern United States

Jojoba is grown (farmed) for the liquid wax, commonly called jojoba oil, in its seeds. The oil is rare in that it is an extremely long (C36–C46) straight-chain wax ester and not a triglyceride, making jojoba and its derivative jojoba esters more similar to whale oil than to traditional vegetable oils.

Some modern-day uses of jojoba oil in skincare and beauty:

  • Moisturiser: Jojoba oil is a natural moisturiser that can help hydrate the skin and prevent dryness. It is easily absorbed by the skin and does not leave a greasy residue.
  • Anti-inflammatory: Jojoba oil has anti-inflammatory properties that can help soothe irritated skin and reduce redness.
  • Anti-aging: Jojoba oil is rich in antioxidants that can help protect the skin from free radical damage and slow down the signs of aging.
  • Acne treatment: Jojoba oil has natural antimicrobial properties that can help fight acne-causing bacteria and prevent breakouts.
  • Makeup remover: Jojoba oil can be used as a natural makeup remover that is gentle on the skin and effective at removing even waterproof makeup.
  • Hair conditioner: Jojoba oil can be used as a hair conditioner to help moisturise and nourish the hair. It can also help prevent dandruff and promote hair growth.
  • Cuticle oil: Jojoba oil can be used as a cuticle oil to help moisturise and soften the cuticles.
  • And of course, massage oil: Aside from being a very reliable lubricant, jojoba also makes an excellent carrier oil for essential oils in aromatherapy. It is nearly unique among plant based oils as it does not go rancid, even after several years, if stored in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight.

In summary, the therapeutic properties of jojoba include anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anti-fungal/insecticidal, and wound healing properties. It has been used in history and culture for treating various ailments such as diverse as skin and scalp disorders, superficial wounds, sore throat, obesity, and cancer.

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