We all know jasmine as that seductive fragrance from the evening blooming flower used in Hawaiian leis and in expensive perfume.
Although there are about 200 species of jasmine, only 2 of them are used frequently to make essential oils or create fragrances for perfume. Jasminum Sambac is the evening blooming jasmine that is often used in perfume. Jasminum officianale var. grandiflorum blooms in the early morning, so must be harvested in the morning before the bloom loses its fragrance.
Jasmine only grows in warm climates where there is no chance of frost, such as in U.S. zones 9 and 11. It was originally found in southeast Asia and was cultivated in India for its exquisite fragrance. In 1753 Linneaus called it Nyctanthes sambac. We often associate it with Persian princesses, and its Persian name “Yasameen” is the source of our English name “Jasmine.”
It is the national flower of Indonesia, symbolizing purity, sacredness and sincerity, used often as the flower of choice for brides. In the Philippines and in Hawaii jasmine is used in leis to greet visitors and impart importance to individuals. In Hawaii the jasmine flower is called “pikake.”
Jasmine is not only fragrant, but has anti-fungal properties that help to clear up some skin problems. An article in the Journal of Mycology indicates that skin irritations in the upper layers of skin caused by Pityriasis versicolor, folliculitis and atopic dermatitis are reduced or cured by jasmine. These skin problems usually occur in the sebaceous areas of the scalp, face, chest and upper back and less frequently on the hands. Jasmine can reduce skin irritation and tone the skin by repairing skin cells, encourage cell growth and increase the elasticity of skin.(1)
Jasmine is often used as an anti-depressant because of its fragrance, which lifts the spirits. It has been shown to have vasodilation effects that tend to relax the body.(2) It is unclear whether vasodilation also effects the anti-depressant effects of Jasmine.
Jasmine is also an emenagogue and should not be used by pregnant women.
Jasmine flowers are distilled to create essential oils and floral water. The flowers are also pressed into wax, which creates floral wax that can then be processed as perfume and other fragrant products. The essential oil is considered a middle note for its use as an essential oil.
Flowers have also been used to create Jasmine Tea. Jasmine tea is an antioxidant that has been shown to help protect the membranes of red blood cells.(3) Jasmine tea leaves are picked in the spring when the leaves are young and are stored until the late summer when the flowers are blooming. The flowers are added to the tea leaves to impart their fragrance and health benefits. Depending on the quality of the tea, flower infusion may occur several times for several hours each time. The more times fresh flowers are added, the higher the quality of the tea.
I am working now to create a Singing Flower Daytime Facial Moisturizer that will have jasmine as one of its main essential oil components. Hopefully, it will be available before the end of August for your use this autumn.
Jasmine is an under-appreciated flower in Western culture and deserves more attention and appreciation.
(1) Santhanam, Jacinta, Farhana Nadiah and Ghani, Dayang Fredalina Basri, Antifungal Activity 1 of Jasminum sambac against Malassezia sp. and Non-Malassezia sp. Isolated from Human Skin Samples, Journal of Mycology, November 10, 2014.
(2) Kunhachan, Phanukit, Chuleratana Banchonglikitkul, Tanwarat Kajsongkram, Amonrat 2 Khayungarnnawee, and Wichet Leelamanit, Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, March 26, 2012.
(3) Zhang, Anqi, Qin Yan Zhu, Yan Shun Luk, Ka Yan Ho, Kwok Pui Fung, Zhen-Yu Chen (June 3 20, 1997). “Inhibitory effects of jasmine green tea epicatechin isomers on free radical-induced lysis of red blood cells”. Life Sciences. 61 (4): 383–394.