|Profile For Jojoba Oil|
Latin name: Simmondsia sinensis. Aroma: A faint, and slightly sweet smell. Colour: It has a yellow, golden colour.
Method of extraction: The seeds are crushed to produce the oil.
About the plant and its 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 female bush only begins to bear seeds in its fifth year. It takes 12 years to achieve maturity, when it reaches a height of 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 coffe beans and are produced in the summer.
About the oil: Jojoba is not an oil but a golden coloured 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 a good thermal stability and does not become rancid, therefore it has a long shelf life and remains chemically unchanged for a period of years. .
Therapeutic properties (internal use): The seeds have the reputation of being appetite depressant. The oil is not readily broken down by the digestive juices, thus it has a more direct beneficial action on the intestines.
Therapeutic properties (external use):
- contains myristic acid which is an antiinflammatory agent, thus the oil can be beneficial in mixes for arthritis and rheumatism.
- beneficial to all types of skin.
- dry scalp.
- chapped skin and nappy rash.
- molecular structure similar to sebum and reportedly prevent its build-up.
- control accumulation of excessive sebum and reportedly prevent its build-up.
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. Jojoba conditions the hair and is an ingredient in many commercial soaps and shampoos.
Folk-lore and 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, colds and sore throats, and it was used for indigestion and wounds that refused to heal; it was topically applied to head sores. Early Spanish missionaries also became jojoba users, with Father Valardes in 1716 referring to the plant as the 'wonders gift of the desert'. Early settlers used the seeds as a survival food and the seeds were roasted as a substitute for coffee.
Carrier Oils General Information
Essential oils are concentrated and powerful and most cannot be used directly on the skin or they will cause irritation. Because of there concentration they need to be diluted in what are called 'carriers'. Most carrier oils are simply used for lubrication, but a few have therapeutic properties of their own, which can be chosen to complement those of the essential oils used with them. For example, peach kernel, apricot kernel and particularly avocado oil are all rich and nourishing and help dry and ageing skins. Wheatgerm oil (rich in Vitamin E) is used to reduce scar tissue after injury or operations and also facial scarring caused by severe acne. Wheatgerm is also a natural antioxidant which helps to prevent other oils from becoming rancid (i.e. oxidising). Small amounts (up to 10%) will improve the keeping ability of any other oil by two or three months.
Cold Pressed Oils - Cold pressed vegetable oils are the best and are generally superiour oils. In the cold pressing process, excessive heat is avoided in order to minimise changes to the natural characteristics of the oil.
Traditionally, there are two methods of cold pressing. In one, the raw material (seeds, nuts or kernels) is simply pressed with a hydraulic press and the oil is squeezed out. This process is only used for soft oily seeds and plant material such as olive, sesame and sunflower etc.
Harder seeds, such as safflower, require more force and a large, powerful screw device known as an expeller is used to crush the plant material, which may be passed through the expeller more than once. The crushed shells, etc are removed from the oil by a succession of filters, the last of which is made of paper. The oil obtained is usually clear (avocado is an exception as it is usually cloudy, especially in cold conditions) and has its taste and nutritional properties intact.
Macerated Oils - Macerated oils have additional properties to all the vegetable oils described because of the way they are produced. Particular parts of certain plants are chopped up and added to a selected carrier oil (usually sunflower or olive) and the mix is agitated gently for some time before placing in strong sunlight for several days. All of the oil-soluble compounds present in the plant material (including the essential oil chemicals) are transferred to the carrier oil, which consequently contains extra therapeutic properties. The macerated mixture is then filtered carefully to remove all the added plant material.
Organic Vegetable Oils - Strictly speaking, organic oils can only be produced from organically grown plant material using approved processes. The rules for organic processing generally exclude the use of chemicals, and a truly organic fixed oil is obtained only from plants which are both organically grown and organically processed.
Vegetable Oils - Vegetable oils constitute the bulk of the mix used to perform an aromatherapy massage. There function is to carry or act as a vehicle for administering the essential oils to the body, hence the term carrier oil. They also act as a lubricant, making it possible to carry out massage movements. All carrier oils are emollient, to a greater or lesser degree.
Basic Vegetable Oils - Sweet almond, apricot kernel, grapeseed, peach kernel and sunflower are among the most common carrier oils, and can be used with or without essential oils for a straightfoward body massage. They are generally pale in colour, not too thick and have very little smell.
Special Vegetable Oils - Certain vegetable oils tend to be more viscous and heavier than basic ones, and can be rather expensive. These include avocado, olive, sesame, rose hip and wheatgerm. The really rich oils such as avocado and wheatgerm are seldom, if ever used on their own. It is more usual to add 10-25% of these two to 75-90% of a basic carrier oil.
Massage Carrier Oils
For massage with essential oils use a carrier oil made specifically for that use. These are all extracted by cold-pressing, ie they are put under high pressure in their natural, raw state when first harvested to squeeze out the oil, and neither heat nor steam is used in the process. This retains the nutrients in the oils ( the proteins, minerals, vitamins, etc) that allow them to be readily absorbed by the skin. Virtually any vegetable oil can be used as a carrier, but anything other than a specific massage carrier will have several drawbacks. All will be too heavy to be easily absorbed by the skin, and most are not cold-pressed and will often contain additives, flavorings or colouring. Ordinary vegetable oils have little or no therapeutic value in themselves, whereas massage carriers will have their own benefits. Baby oils and other mineral oils are not suitable for aromatherapy massage as they are specifically made to lie on the surface of the skin and will not be absorbed.
There are several different massage carrier oils produced, but we have detailed here the most often used carrier oils:
- Sweet Almond
- Peach Kernel
- Evening Primrose
Carrier Oils Storage Information
All oils, essential and carrier, have a limited 'shelf life' and over time will degenerate by oxidisation and become rancid. Adding Wheatgerm to any blend will extend its life, and a blend with essential oils will keep for longer than the carrier alone. The best method is to mix only as much as you will use for one treatment.