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What is Jojoba?

Simmondsia chinensis is a desert shrub indigenous to Arizona, California, and northern Mexico. It grows in a number of deserts worldwide. It is a woody evergreen shrub with thick, leathery, bluish-green leaves and dark brown nutlike fruit. An equal number of male and female flowers are borne on separate plants. The plant can withstand extreme daily fluctuations of temperature and thrives in well-drained, desert soils and coarse mixtures of gravel and clay. The mature plant produces about 5 to 10 pounds of seeds, which range in size between the coffee bean and peanut. It is an important forage plant for desert bighorn sheep and mule deer.

Scientific Name(s)

Simmondsia chinensis (Link) Schneider (synonym Simmondsia californica Nutall.). Family: Simmondsiaceae

What is it used for?

Traditional/Ethnobotanical uses

American Indians and Mexicans have long used jojoba oil as a hair conditioner and restorer, and in medicine, cooking, and rituals. In the United States, jojoba is considered a viable cash crop for the southwestern Indians, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs has funded most of the studies in this area.

With the banning of the sale of sperm whale oil in the 1970s, the cosmetic industry turned to jojoba oil for use in shampoos, moisturizers, sunscreens, and conditioners. It has further potential as an industrial lubricant because it does not break down under high temperature or pressure. A disadvantage to its use is its relatively high cost.

General uses

The toxicity of the constituent simmondsin in jojoba seed meal and some oil components limits the likelihood of clinical use. Jojoba oil is commonly used in dermatological preparations.

What is the recommended dosage?

There is no clinical evidence to guide dosage of jojoba or its oil. However, its primary used in ointments.


Although absolute contraindications have not been identified, jojoba should not be ingested by humans due to potential toxicity.


Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking. Adverse effects in rodents and birds have been noted.


None well documented.

Side Effects

Case reports of skin reaction, confirmed by skin patch tests, exist for jojoba oil.


Parts of jojoba are toxic. Studies demonstrate blood toxicity, microscopic cellular abnormalities, and other adverse effects.


1. Jojoba. Review of Natural Products. Facts & Comparisons [database online]. St. Louis, MO: Wolters Kluwer Health Inc; April 2011.

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