Jojoba oil is derived from the seeds of shrubs in the Simmondsia family found in deserts around the world, and has been used by Native Americans for centuries to treat burns and to condition hair. Because jojoba oil is similar to whale oil, when sales of sperm whale oil were banned in 1973, the cosmetics industry started using jojoba instead in skincare and haircare products. Jojoba oil has several health benefits with very few side effects, and even shows promise for treating cholesterol.
Scientists at the Ain Shams University Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology in Egypt investigated jojoba extracts for their ability to treat inflammation. In studies performed on laboratory animals, the scientists found that jojoba was an effective anti-inflammatory, reducing swelling, white blood cell proliferation and levels of nitric oxide, a marker of inflammatory and allergic conditions. Check with your health care provider before using jojoba as an anti-inflammatory.
As an Antioxidant
The leaves of the jojoba plant contain high levels of alpha-tocopherol, or vitamin E, a known antioxidant, according to a study published in a 1994 issue of "Food Chemistry." Antioxidants are found in plants and food, and help prevent or slow the oxidative damage to your body that can lead to disease.
Researchers conducting a New Zealand study in 1981 fed rabbits a 2 percent dietary supplement of jojoba oil, which led to a 40 percent reduction of blood cholesterol levels, as compared to a similar supplement of safflower oil, which had no such effects. However, since these studies haven't been performed in human trials and there is no proven safe or effective dose for jojoba ingestion in humans, you should avoid ingesting jojoba unless indicated by your doctor.
Although generally safe, there have been a few reports of contact dermatitis, a red itchy rash with blisters, in people using shampoos or hair conditioners containing jojoba oil. If you have sensitive skin, you should use jojoba products with caution or check first with your dermatologist.
Jojoba oil has a chemical composition that has been compared favorably to the human sebum oil found in skin. According to an article from "Cosmetic Dermatology" in 2008, jojoba oil can actually help acne by reducing oil production and dissolving excess natural oil in the pores. Dry skin can also benefit from topical jojoba oil, which serves as an effective moisturizer.