Jojoba is a drought tolerant shrub native to the deserts of the southwest. The jojoba plant produces seeds that look like nuts, but contain about 50% of its weight in oil. Jesuit priests who visited the Baja California region during the 18th century reported on the many ways local natives used the jojoba seed and its oil. “Two to three jojoba seeds taken in the morning are said to be good for the stomach” Mexican historian Francisco Clavijero wrote in 1789. He said the natives would put the jojoba seeds in hot ashes until the oil began oozing out of the seed. “They were then ground on rocks and the resulting salve would be applied to wounds”.
Scientists have recently learned the unique nature of jojoba oil. For one that it is not an oil at all, but rather a liquid wax. The significance of this is that the major molecules that make up jojoba oil are about two thirds the size of an oil like coconut oil or almond oil. This means it absorbs in to your skin much more quickly than other oils. Consequently it improves the lubricity of your skin without creating an oily feeling. Jojoba oil is also a better solvent than other oils and is very useful for carrying active ingredients down deep in to your skin.
Scientists have recently confirmed what Native Americans already knew; that jojoba oil is good for treating wounds. In 2011, scientists reported in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, that they had performed scratch wound experiments and concluded “Jojoba liquid wax notably accelerates the wound closure”. Jojoba oil has also been found to have an anti-inflammatory effect on skin. It’s also anti-fungal and anti-microbial and seems to help hinder skin ageing.
The magic of lanolin can be seen in how it is used in nature. Lanolin is produced by the skin of sheep and coats their skin and wool, protecting them from the weather. It makes them waterproof. Imitating their own flock, Hampshire shepherds would coat their smocks with lanolin to protect them from the English rain. Thomas Burberry noted this and invented Gabardine fabric in 1879 in which wool is coated with lanolin before weaving. Gabardine fabric has since found its way on many historic expeditions to the Antarctic, the North Pole and to the top of Mount Everest.
The magic of lanolin is not in the activity of any of its chemical components. Its just that they form a perfect water barrier. It doesn’t just repel water, but it remains in place, remains flexible so it doesn’t crack and doesn’t easily rub away. It’s not like a typical oil. If a fabric were covered with coconut oil it would feel slippery and the oil would come off on you and everything it touched. If you have ever felt a Gabardine jacket, it doesn’t feel slippery like oil or grease. It’s actually more like beeswax. And that is because lanolin is actually a wax. Whereas jojoba oil is a liquid wax, lanolin contains more cholesterol as part of its wax, and therefore is more rigid. But it’s not too rigid, like typical waxes are. If fabric were coated with beeswax it would flake off. Lanolin was design by nature to adhere, remain flexible but stay put on sheep as they went along their daily business.
That is why lanolin is the best moisturizing emollient. It forms a flexible film on your skin and really holds the moisture in. It’s particularly useful for areas like your heels and elbows in which oils like coconut oil can easily be rubbed away. And it’s better on your hands and knuckles because it doesn’t come off on everything you touch.
Since lanolin is prepared from sheep wool, it’s important that it is produced without harming the sheep. The lanolin of Native Nutraceuticals is prepared by shepherds in Australia and is certified cruelty free.
White Willow Bark
You can tell that a plant or tree has strong medicinal effects when cultures from around the world have used it for centuries and for the same reason. Willow bark, and particularly white willow bark, is a perfect example. Though its skinny, flexible twigs have been used by cultures around the world to make baskets, extracts of its inner bark have been universally used to kill pain. The Cherokee tribe would make a tea of the white willow bark to pain, chills and fever. White willow was used by the Chinese to treat pain as far back as 700 BC. And Hippocrates recommended chewing on white willow bark to patients suffering from fever and pain. He recommended a tea made from the white willow bark be given to women during childbirth to lessen the pain.
Scientists during the 19th century discovered that the active ingredient in the extract of white willow bark is salicylic acid and its cousin salicin, which is the same molecule with a sugar attached. Salicylic acid has since been proven to have pain-relieving, anti-inflammatory, and fever reducing effects on people. Because it is an acid, it can upset your stomach and can also create ulcers if ingested too much. Because of this acetyl salicylic acid, a less acidic and less irritating molecule, was developed by chemists at the Bayer Corporation during the end of the 19th century. They called it Aspirin.
Interest in salicylic acid is rising again though. The acidity of salicylic acid has been found to have benefits in cosmetics. It acts as a gentle exfoliator, to remove surface skin, while at the same time giving pain relief. It’s consequently used in formulas to treat such ailments as warts, psoriasis or seborrheic dermatitis. It’s also helpful in removing calluses.
Aside from pain relieving and skin exfoliation, the water extract of white willow bark has also been found to reduce the effects of ageing on the skin. This is believed to be specifically due to the salicin in the extract.
There are a wide variety of mallow plants that grow through the temperate and tropical regions of Europe, Africa, Asia and North America. Their leaves, buds and flowers are often eaten as a substitute for lettuce. But they have also been used medicinally for millennium. The Greek Physician of the 3rd century BC, Diphilus of Siphnus said “mallow juice lubricates the windpipe, nourishes and is easily digested”.
Mallow has been used by Native Americans for centuries also. Navajo have used crushed desert globemallow to heal wounds. The Dakota tribe used marshmallow, which grows in the marshes and lakesides of Minnesota, to sooth inflammation. The crushed roots were used to make a paste to treat bruises, sprains and muscle aches. A tea or syrup of the root has been used in many cultures to sooth a sore throat or treat a cough.
A 2019 study found that marshmallow root can offer quick relief from throat and respiratory problems by coating the through and esophagus and reducing inflammation. It reduces swelling and irritation. Marshmallow root, as with most all other mallows, contains mucilage, which is a large polymer that forms a slippery gel in water.
Aside from reducing inflammation marshmallow root extract helps to hydrate the skin. Because mucilage is a large polymer it can be used to coat the skin and keep it hydrated. Small molecules like glycerol can hydrate the skin, but are quickly absorbed or are rubbed away. Mucilage from marshmallow root remains on the skin and keeps water from escaping your skin. The mucilage of marshmallow root extract can also be used to hold other water soluble molecules like salicylic acid or vitamin C, and keep them from being rubbed away.
Though mucilage is obtained from the water extract of the marshmallow root, the oil extract of marshmallow root contains a molecule called quercetin. A 2020 study showed that this molecule helps reduce the negative effects of UV radiation by having strong anti-oxidant properties. Marshmallow root is a perfect example of how important it is to know the solubility of active ingredients in a plant. An oil extract and water or ethanol extract of plants does not yield the same active molecules.
Licorice root is a perennial legume found in Asia, Europe and North America. It is a perfect example of how serendipitous discovery by our ancestors should not be ignored. The root of the licorice plant has been used in folk medicine of a wide range of cultures from the Egyptians, the Chinese and Native Americans. Licorice root contains the water soluble molecule Glycyrrhizin, which is a saponin; this means it can act as a soap.
Glycyrrhizin has also been found to be very anti-microbial and anti-viral. It has also been found to help heal wounds, heal sunburn, stop tumor growth, cure atopic dermatitis and smooth pigmentation of the skin. Aside from that it’s also very hydrolyzing. In a nutshell, it is one of the few plants that is somewhat of a cure-all when applied to the skin. The fact that it is a saponin also makes it useful as an emulsifier when formulating cosmetics.
Undecylenic Acid and Castor Oil
Undecylenic acid is a naturally derived anti-fungal molecule approved by the FDA for topically treating toenail fungus, athlete's foot, jock itch and other diseases caused by fungus. Undecylenic acid is derived from castor oil, one of the world's oldest herbal medicines. Castor oil is derived from the beans of the castor plant that grows in the rich soils of the tropical regions. Cultures from around the world, going back thousands of years, have used its medicinal properties; which includes use as an anti-inflammatory and whitening of the eyes. It's said that Cleopatra would use drops of castor oil as an eye brightener.
The undecylenic acid derived from castor oil, aside from killing fungus and bacteria, has also been found to reduce the itching and inflammation that commonly occurs with fungal infections. Though very active, the problem with undecylenic acid is that it is small and easily worn away before it actually penetrates your skin to perform its action. Consequently, at Native Nutraceuticals we team it together with chitosan which holds and slowly releases the undecylenic acid into the skin or nails.