Jojoba is a weed species found naturally in the dry, arid regions of southern California and adjoining areas of Mexico. It was valued by the Indians as a source of food with the nuts being eaten straight from the bush. the nuts, either raw or roasted, were also ground into a flour and boiled in water. The resultant liquid provided a wholesome drink. It is said they also used it to treat sores and bruises.
Jojoba was, and still is, used for feeding cattle and other animals. Jojoba once had a reputation for restoring hair and is still occasionally recommended for this purpose.
This herb has long been recognised as a source of a liquid wax and has been subjected to periodic trials over the past fifty years. It was first introduced into Australia in 1953 by the Faulting Pharmaceutical Company with a view to researching the properties of the oil and biology of the plants, but the experiment was short-lived. During the 1970’s interest again surfaced with the search for substitutes for sperm what oil and fossil fuel lubricants.
Jojoba nuts consist of about fifty percent oil, which needs little refining, and stable under the pressures and temperatures of high-speed machinery. Chemically, it is said to be practically identical to sperm whale oil, with the added advantage that it does not go rancid. It has been estimated that one acre of jojoba would produce a quantity of oil equivalent to that produced from thirty sperm whales.
Jojoba oil also has potential for use in a wide range of products, including cosmetics, plasticisers, varnishes, adhesives and evaporation retardants.
Since the 1970’s experimental plantations have been established in America, Israel, the Sudan and Australia. Periodically jojoba is the focus of much media attention in ‘get-rich-quick’ schemes, but this should in no way detract from the potential value of this plant.
Today, it’s commonly used to treat acne, psoriasis, sunburn and chapped skin. It’s also used by people who are balding because it encourages hair regrowth. Because jojoba is an emollient, it soothes the skin and unclogs hair follicles. Many people know jojoba oil to be a carrier oil for essential oil uses, such as making skin and hair products, but it’s actually an effective skin moisturiser and healer on its own. the wax esters found in Jojoba are identical to the natural sebum produced by our own skin.
Jojoba has a potential as a soil conservation plant as it is drought resistant, low maintenance, lives up to one hundred years or more and has a deep root system that can stabilise soil. It is particularly suited to arid coastal or inland regions as it will tolerate high temperatures and saline soil.