By Hwaa Irfan
‘Jasmine’ comes from the Arabic, which in turn comes from the Persian yasmin, which means a “gift from God”. Jasmine oil is considered the “scent of all scents” as it has been the centre of the perfumery industry for eons. In India it symbolizes divine hope, in China the sweetness of women, and in Hindu and Arab traditions, it is looked upon as the perfume of love.
The plant Jasminum grandiflorum is a member of the Oleaceae family, and is native to Iran, and Kashmir. It is also the national flower of Tunisia. It arrived in Europe via Moorish Spain in the 17th century. There are 43 varieties, but only Jasminum grandiflorum/officinale are the most important in Aromatherapy. Jasminum grandiflorum and Jasminum officinale are two not one variety, but they are very similar therapeutically.
With a preference for tropical/subtropical environments, Jasminum grandiflorum is a hardy, deciduous and evergreen climbing shrub with woody stems that loves the sun. Although the plant is a thirst quencher, it cannot tolerate water logging, and prefers well drained soil. The ovate deep green leaves are positioned in opposition to one another, and each leaf can have seven leaflets.
The flowers bloom in clusters in the early summer or early autumn with complex petal formation ranging from 4 to 8 petals. After the flowers bloom, tiny black berries appear. The Jasmine is picked at night through till morning, which is how it earned the name “Queen of the night” because the flower tends to open at night.
There is no Jasmine essential oil – what is used is effleurage, or a solvent extraction. Effleurage is a traditional method which involves placing layers of fresh flowers on top of a blend of fats. The fats then absorb what is released by the flowers. Each day old flowers are replaced with fresh flowers, the process of which produces a pomade. The pomade is then washed with alcohol to remove the fats , then the alcohol is removed via vacuum distillation leaving the final product, the absolute. An absolute has over 7 million flowers producing 1 kg! Absolutes have a stronger scent, and greater therapeutic value. The downside of solvent extraction is that it is weaker in aroma, and in therapeutic value.
Today commercial production of Jasminum grandiflorum takes place mainly in Egypt, and India, Iran, with smaller production in Afghanistan, Algeria, Cape of Good Hope, France, Italy, Turkey, and Morocco. However, when buying the nose plays a very important role as it is far from uncommon to find inclusions of petrochemical-based extractions. Jasmine absolute is brown, and quite viscous. It is strongly floral, and sweet unlike solvent-extracts which do not carry the full fragrance. The solvent extraction is thin and colourless – a yellowish brown viscous liquid. The aroma has a masculine quality that is strong, floral, sweet, warm, and sensual
Unfortunately, one can find adulterated products on the market readily, usually adulterated with synthetics and can be mainly reconstructions. Synthetic essential Jasmine oil has a sweet sickening smell that smells as if it has oxidized, i.e. gone rancid. Jasmine absolute is prone to oxidation once exposed to the air, so it should be kept in a dark glass container in a cool place. It has a shelf life of 12 – 15 months.
The essential oil of Jasminum grandiflorum contains over 100 different chemical compounds, which includes:
- Benzoic Acid
- Benzyl acetate
- Benzyl alcohol
- Linalyl acetate
- Phenylacetic acid
- Methyl anthranilate
- Methyl jasmonate
- Salicylic acid
The scent plays an important therapeutic role as it uplifts the spirit, balances, soothes, and aligns with the higher purpose of sexuality, thus helping to release mental blockages pertaining to intimacy. The scent stimulates beta rhythms in the brain, thus increasing mental alertness while calming the autonomic nervous system.
It is worth noting that Egyptian jasmine has a more floral top notes, while Italian jasmine has a more fruity note.
Some of the therapeutic properties are as follows:
For glossary see It All Makes Good Scents!
In research carried out at the St. Xaviers College, India, was found to demonstrate antimicrobial properties that were most effective against the bacteria Salmonella typhii…
As an expectorant, Jasmine calms and eases irritating coughs.
Used as an emollient in the cosmetic industry because its rich lipophilic properties penetrates bodily tissues easily.
As a spasmolytic, it strengthens the contractions of labour, and relieves pain at the same time. It also relieves uterine spasms, and spasms of the bronchi.
As a tonic for the uterus easing spasms and menstrual pains
As a vulnerary the oil helps to stem blood loss, and promotes cell regeneration in the case of wounds and scar tissue
Jasmine is a strong oil, and in general more than one drop is too much per application. Over-use can result in having the opposite effect. It should not be used in pregnancy until about to give birth, after one has given birth.
The oil can only be used for external use, and when used it should be diluted by means of Carrier Oils like Jojoba/Almond Oil (i.e. 1 drop to 1 oz.). Drops of no more than 1 should be used for:
Head – Headaches, loose teeth, otorrhoea, otalgia, ulcerative stomatitis,
Mind – Dejection, depression (related to emotional repression), despair, fear, emotional shock/trauma, grief, guilt, insecurity, loss of self confidence, nervous/mental fatigue, paranoia, post-natal depression, stress, withdrawal symptoms (addiction)
Musculoskeletal – Bone cancer, inflammation, muscular spasms/sprains.
Reproductive – Breast cancer, eases childbirth, insufficient breast milk, irregular menses, menstrual cramps, weak uterus,
Respiratory – Bacterial infections, upper respiratory tract infections,
Skin – All types, dermatitis (stress-related), dry aggravated skin (stress related), inflammation, scars leprosy , wounds,
Sexual – Poor libido, reciprocity
Spiritual – Inhibitions (ability to experience pleasure within not physical), reciprocity in intimacy, alignment of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd chakras, weak heart, small intestine and pericardium meridians, syphilitic miasm.
- Vapor therapy – Anxiety, eases traumatic experiences (especially in children), psychosomatic conditions, stress, respiratory conditions, and spiritual development
- Massage oil – Balance skin’s oil production, keeps skin supple, heal wounds, eases blockages in the spiritual body
- Bath – 1 drop added before filling the bath, helps to calm the mind, bruises, ease depression, mood swings, PMS, stress, eczema, abscesses, musculoskeletal, mind, sexual inhibitions, ability to receive.
- It can be added to creams, oils, shampoos, mists and facial masks. It can be used in a bath to ease the tension of the day.
- Before giving birth, rub one drop on the lower abdomen and back to ease pain, and strengthen uterine contractions
Burfield T. “The Adulteration of Essential Oils and the Consequences to Aromatherapy & Natural Perfumery Practice.” London. 2005
Lavabre, M. “Aromatherapy Workbook.” Healing Arts Press, Canada. 1990.
Gurudas. “Spiritual Properties of Herbs.” Casssandra Press, U.S. 1988.
Priya, J, and Raja D. “Anti-Bacterial Activity Studies of Jasminum grandiflorum and Jasminum sambac.” Ethnobotanical Leaflets 12: 481-483. 2008.