- Latin Name:
Simmondsia sinensis (Links.) C K Schneider,
Named after Mr Simmonds, sinensis means from China and buxus refers to the box plant. It is also known as the goat nut, and coffeeberry.
The Plant and it's Environment
This perennial leathery-leaved shrub grows well in arid and semi-dry areas, growing naturally in the desert regions of Southern California, Arizona and north-west Mexico. The plant, which is either male or female, grows slowly and the female bush only begins to bear seeds in its fifth year.
- It takes twelve years to achieve maturity, when it reaches a height of 0.5-2.0 meters (2-7) feet):it is characterized by the blue-green leaves with a thick cuticle which limits water loss.
- The hulls of the fruit turn from green to brown before they crack and allow the seed to fall to the ground. The seeds are similar in appearance to coffee beans and are protected in the summer. Jojoba seeds were originally hand picked from bushes growing in the wild but the plant has been grown commercially since 1979; it can be planted to help prevent arid land from becoming desert.
- Jojoba is not a oil but a golden colored liquid wax. This is because it is not composed of triacylglycerols but of esters formed from long chain fatty acids (average chain length C20) and long chain fatty alcohols (average chain length C21).
- The oil does not oxidize easily, has good thermal stability and does not become rancid, therefore it has a long shelf life and remains chemically unchanged for a period of years.
- The oil even remains essentially unchanged after repeated heating to temperatures above 285°C or after being heated to 370°C for four days (anon 1983). If left in a very cold place or a fridge it will solidify, but will quickly liquefy at a room temperature of 10 C. The oil can be used as an alternative to sperm whale oil (spermaceti) (cf camelina oil qv).
- Method Of Extraction
The seeds are crushed, yielding about 50-60% by weight of jojoba oil, a mixture of wax esters.
- Principal Constituents
Type Name Content - % Saturated fatty acid units C16:0 palmitic acid 11 C18:0 stearic acid 71 C20:0 arachidic acid 14 C22:0 behenic acid 1 Other 2 Typical saturated fatty acid unit content 93 Monounsaturated fatty acid units: C16:1 palmitoleic acid 0.1 C18:1 oleic acid 6.7 Typical monounsaturated fatty acid unit content 6 C18:2 linoleic acid 0.3 C18:3 linolenic acid 0.2 Typical polyunsaturated fatty acid unit content 0.5 C18:0 octadecanol 1 C20:9 eicosanol 44 C22:0 docosanol 45 C24:0 tetracosanol 9 Other trace Typical fatty alcohol unit content 100
- Physical Properties
- Odour A faint, slightly sweet smell
- Acid value <1,o
- Specific gravity 0.863-0.865
- Folk-Lore Traditional Plant Uses
- Members of the Pueblo tribe, native to Mexico and south-western USA, crushed the jojoba seeds to produce an oil to use on their skin and hair to combat the drying effects of the desert sun. Warm jojoba oil eased their aches and pains, and was also used on skin abrasions.
- The Seri used jojoba to care for inflamed eyes, cold and sore throats, and it was used for indigestion and wounds that refused to heal; it was topically applied to head sores (Duke 1985).
- Early Spanish missionaries also became jojoba users, with Father Valardes in 1716 referring to the plant as the 'wonderous gift of the desert'. Early settlers used the seeds as survival food and the seeds were roasted as a coffee substitute (Leung & Foster 1996.
Therapeutic Properties - Internal Use
- The seeds have the reputation of being appetite depressant. The oil is not readily broken down by the digestive huices, thus it has a more direct beneficial action on the intestines (Bartram 1996). ( Bruneton 1995) notes that if rats are fed jojoba oil, there are changes in histological and enzymatic activity observed in the small intestine, which probably preclude any dietary use.
- Therapeutic Properties - External Use
Contains myristic acid which is an anti-inflammatory agent, thus the oil can be beneficial in mixes for arthritis and rheumatism.
beneficial to all types of skin
chapped skin and nappy rash (Bartram 1996)
molecular structure similar to sebum which makes it useful in cases of acne vulgaris
control accumulation of excessive sebum and reportedly prevent its build-up (Anon 1983).
There is evidence that jojoba can permeate the skin. Photographs have been produced showing the oil in a " pool" at the base of a hair and moving through the follicle wall into the corneal layer (Anon 1985).
- Cosmetic Use
Jojoba conditions the hair and is an ingredient in many commercial soap and shampoos. Beneficial for use in epilation, it is balancing to the acid mantle of the skin and so is useful for both dry and oily skins.
- Cosmetology uses jojoba after hydrogenation, when it remains solid up to 65°C, second in hardness only to carnauba wax, for creams, lotions, soaps, and lipsticks as it is a good non-greasy lubricant; forms a matrix with other waxes for holding pigments and oils in lipsticks; replaces petroleum waxes (Wilson 1992).
- Cautionary Notes
Jojoba oil may cause an allergic reaction (Winter 1984) and contact dermatitis has also been reported (Scott & Scott 1982).
Reference: Carrier Oils for Aromatherapy & Massage: Len Price with Ian Smith & Shirley Price