Jasmine has long been coveted for its powerful aroma and beautiful flowers. It has been used as decoration for centuries and is an important part of many Asian cultures. Jasmine is the national flower of Pakistan where it is known as Chameli. Its powerful and alluring scent has made it a popular choice for products like soap and perfume and ideal for the production of jasmine essential oil.
Jasminum officinale, known as Common Jasmine, is the variety of jasmine from which jasmine essential oil is most commonly distilled. It is native to the Caucasus, northern Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Himalayas, and western China. The plant, which is typically a shrub or bush, can grow to 10-15 feet in height, and the flowers are usually white, with some species having yellow flowers. True jasmine is non-toxic. A plant known as Carolina Jasmine (Gelsemium sempervirens) is poisonous, but it isn't a true member of the jasmine family.
Besides its beauty and fragrance, jasmine has been used for its many medicinal qualities for many years. The oil is not a true essential oil since it is not pressed or distilled directly from the flower; instead, it is extracted either through an alcohol solution or by soaking in animal or plant fats. The resulting solution has been used for everything from sleeplessness to childbirth for centuries. Read on to see just ten of the many proposed uses for this miraculous substance.
What Is Jasmine Essential Oil?
As stated above, jasmine essential oil is not exactly an essential oil. The oil is not directly distilled from the flowers. The typical method of oil extraction, steam distillation, is not viable with jasmine flowers. The process causes the petals to deteriorate and makes oil extraction impossible. Also, the steam removes many of the water-soluble elements from the flower essential in maintaining the integrity of the scent.
In this method, the flowers are exposed to a chemical solvent which extracts the oils from the flower. Different solvents, either hexane, diethyl ether, or ethanol yield different amounts of oil. Some compounds also extract more of the non-aromatic chemicals from the flower, reducing the purity of the oil. This calls for an additional step to further purify the extract.
Once extracted, the waxy residue that results is known as concrete. It takes about 1,000 pounds, or about a million flowers, to create one pound of concrete. This concrete is further treated to remove other impurities with the final product being known as an absolute. The absolute is not pure jasmine extract. There is still some residue left from the extraction process. For this reason, oils made using this method are not used in true aromatherapy treatments.
The essential oils made from this process contain mainly benzyl acetate, linalool, cis-jasmone, indole, and methyl anthranilate. Organic methods of solvent extract are also used, where the plants, alcohols, and oils used are certified organic. This method is said to yield an extract with a softer fragrance. Jasmine essential oils produced via this method can be used for therapeutic purposes.
In this method of extraction, the petals of the jasmine flower are soaked in either animal or plant fat. The fat's properties make it ideal for removing the fragrance molecules from the flower. After several days, the petals are removed and replaced by new petals to further saturate the oil with the scent. Once the oil has fully saturated the substance, known as pomade, alcohol is introduced to extract the scent from the fat. Once the alcohol evaporates, what is left is called jasmine absolute by enfleurage.
The extract made from this process contains benzyl acetate, ∂ - linalool, linalyl acetate, benzyl alcohol, jasmine, indole, methyl anthranilate, 3-hexen-1-ol, 3-hexen-1-ol acetate, methyl benzoate, phenyl actonitrile, benzyl ester, phenyl ethyl acetate, faranesene, cadinene, cis-3-hexenyl benzoate, benzyl benzoate, ferenesol or nerolidol.
Due to the labor-intensive nature of the enfleurage process, this method is used far less than the solvent extract method, even though the essential oil produced via the enfleurage method is said to be a truer representation of the flowers natural aroma. There are other methods of extraction. Some are like enfleurage involving hulled sesame seeds. Newer methods involve extraction via carbon or CO2. The vast majority of jasmine essential oils are made using the solvent extraction method. Oils made by enfleurage can be very expensive, costing $300-500 an ounce.
How To Use Jasmine Essential Oil
Once extracted, the oil has many potential health and wellness benefits. For aromatherapy purposes, an oil diffuser works best to release the aroma into the air. Topical uses, such as rubbing into the abdomen to relieve menstrual cramps, are also thought to be effective. Be sure to test for any adverse effects to topical treatments prior to widespread use. Test on a small area of the body first to ensure there will be no skin sensitization. Ingestion of jasmine essential oil is not recommended.
10 Jasmine Essential Oil Health Benefits
Studies have shown that inhaling jasmine essential oils can have a stimulating effect on the brain. This could be related to the release of serotonin, a neurotransmitter associated with feeling good. Subjects who were tested reported an increase of positive feelings and a decrease of negative feelings.
Stress And Anxiety
The increase of positive feelings mentioned also makes jasmine a potential stress and anxiety reliever. Along with an increase in positive feelings, studies also show an increase in emotions such as confidence and well-being. These effects can lead to a calming sensation, which is why jasmine oil is also lauded as an effective treatment for sleeplessness.
Among its many uses, jasmine essential oil can be used as a topical antiseptic. Some chemical components found in the oil, such as benzyl acetate, are known for their antimicrobial properties. When applied to open wounds, the oil can help reduce chances of infection and also help wounds to heal faster.
There is a long history of using jasmine as an aphrodisiac. In some parts of the world, the flower is used to adorn the bedroom of newlywed couples, and studies have shown jasmine aroma to increase many of the body's physical functions including heart rate, body temperature, and blood-oxygen saturation. The delicate beauty of the flower, the intoxicating scent, and its nature as a night-blooming flower have all led to jasmine being associated with love and love-making.
There are many proposed benefits to the use of jasmine essential oils on the skin. It can hydrate dry skin and relieve several types of skin related maladies, such as eczema. It is also believed that applying jasmine oil to scar tissue can cause the scar, stretch marks, and cellulite to fade. Test using jasmine essential oil on a small part of your body before using it all over your exposed skin.
It is believed that jasmine essential oils can stimulate milk production in new mothers. The same properties that promote lactation are also believed to reduce chances of breast cancer.
Inhaling jasmine essential oil vapors, which can be achieved by adding the oil to a sink full of hot water, has expectorant properties. This can be helpful if you have a cold by helping to loosen up phlegm in the chest and lungs. This same method can help reduce snoring at night.
Jasmine is also effective in the treatment of various ailments related to the female menstrual cycle. The oil can help reduce the pain associated with menstrual cramps. It can help regulate the menstrual cycle. Because of the stimulant and calming effects, jasmine essential oils can also help reduce the fatigue and irritability related to the menstrual cycle. There is also evidence that the oil can delay menopause and that it promotes a healthy uterus.
Jasmine essential oil has been used by midwives as an aid to reduce time spent in labor and also to reduce labor pains. Because of its antidepressant qualities, it is also believed to be helpful in combatting post-partum depression.
The stimulating effects of jasmine have on the brain can facilitate increased cognitive processes. Studies have shown increases in brain activity associated with treatment with the oil.
The healing properties of jasmine essential oil have been known for thousands of years, so it's little surprise that scientific research has produced results that support what natural healers have known for millennia. You can enjoy the health benefits of jasmine without the side-effects often associated with today's pharmaceuticals. If you are looking for a natural alternative to pharmaceuticals that has science and thousands of years of trusted use behind it, jasmine essential oils offer a homeopathic alternative.
However, keep in mind that the essential oil market is not regulated by the United States Food and Drug Administration, so it is possible for manufacturers to fabricate claims involving the purity and nature of the oils they sell. Research where your essential oils come from and only use only trusted brands.