Jasmine Monograph

Download the Jasmine Monograph PDF here

No other essential oil is capable of changing our mood so intensely and that it offers little choice other than optimism. The fragrance penetrates the deepest layers of our soul, opening the doors to our emotions.1

Fischer-Rizzi perfectly describes the effect of jasmine on our psyche.

Synonyms

Jasminum officinale, Jasminum officinale L. var. grandiflorum

Family

Oleaceae

Botany and origins

The Jasminum species are evergreen deciduous shrubs or shrubby climbers with white, pink or yellow very fragrant flowers. Jasmine is native to the Indian and South East Asian region.2

There are more than 200 species of jasmine cultivated in the subtropics worldwide. The three most important commercially cultivated species used for essential oil production are:

J. auriculatum
J. grandiflorum
J. sambac.2

J. auriculatum is native to southern India and has adapted to regions with high temperature and above average rainfall.2

J. grandiflorum is native to northern Iran, Afghanistan and Kashmir, and has been introduced and is commercially cultivated in many countries, principally around the Mediterranean. It has adapted to a milder climate.2

Grasse, a town in the south of France, became the principal supplier of jasmine absolute, however, due to the high costs of production most jasmine cultivation is now in countries such as Algeria, Morocco, Egypt and India.2 The major jasmine absolute producing countries are Egypt and India. Egypt produces approximately 70-80% of the world’s jasmine absolute.3 J. sambac is native to southern India and has a long history of cultivation in India. It is commonly referred to as mogra.2

Method of extraction

Jasmine absolute is produced by alcohol extraction of jasmine concrete, which is prepared by extraction with hydrocarbon solvents or by enfleurage. The enfleurage process has been beautifully described In Patrick Suskind’s novel, Perfume:

Jasmine season began at the end of July, the perfume of this flower was both so exquisite and so fragile that not only did the blossoms have to be picked before sunrise, but they also demanded the most gentle and special handling. Warmth diminished their scent; suddenly to plunge them into hot macerating oil would have completely destroyed it. The souls of these noblest of blossoms could not be simply ripped from them, they had to be methodically coaxed away. In a special impregnated room, the flowers were strewn on glass plates smeared with cool oil or wrapped in oil soaked clothes, there they would die slowly in their sleep. It took three or four days for them to wither and exhale their scent into the adhering oil. Then they were carefully plucked off and new blossoms spread out.

This procedure was repeated a good, ten, twenty times, and it was September before the pomade had drunk its fill and the fragrant oil could be pressed from the clothes. The yield was considerably less than with maceration.

But in purity, it was unequalled, the jasmine oil radiated the sticky sweet, erotic scent of the blossoms with lifelike fidelity.4

This well-known method of extraction which has been employed for over 200 years is today becoming increasingly impractical and uneconomical due to the high costs of labour.5

Today, most jasmine absolute is commonly obtained by solvent extraction, via the concrete from the flowers of J. grandiflorum cultivated in Egypt, Italy, Morocco and India, and of J. sambac from China and India.2

The flowers open in the early morning and there is a rapid and significant loss of essential oil once the buds have opened. For example, one of the constituents, indole dropped by 0.6-0.8 mg/100 g of flowers in the first hours after the buds open.2

Flowers are usually picked by hand as a suitable method for mechanical harvesting has not been commercially developed. Flowers must be processed without delay. Approximately 1,000 kg of jasmine flowers will yield 2.5 – 3.5 kg of concrete, and half this amount as an absolute.2

Weiss states that a large cheap workforce is essential to harvest jasmine flowers.2 This is one of the reasons that Egypt and India have become  significant suppliers of jasmine.2

Characteristics

Jasmine absolute is a dark orange (on aging reddish-brown), somewhat viscous liquid, and it possesses an intensely floral, warm, rich and highly diffusive odour with a peculiar waxy-herbaceous, oily-fruity and tea-like undertone.5

Chemical composition

The chemical composition of jasmine absolute was reported as follows:

benzyl acetate (22.09%), linalool (6.44%), benzyl alcohol (0.92%), farnesene (1.86%), indole (2.5%), benzyl benzoate +phytol (24.55%), cis-jasmone (2.6%), methyl anthranilate (2.04%), methyl jasmonate (2.99%), phytol acetate (10.25%), eugenol (1.66%), isophytol+jasmone lactone (9.77%).2

While the main volatile component of jasmine is benzyl acetate, minor constituents such as indole and cis-jasmone significantly contribute to the typical jasmine fragrance.

There is a significant difference between the main volatiles emitted by living and picked flowers. For instance, indole and benzyl acetate, which occurred in relatively high concentration in the headspaces of living jasmine flowers, decreased significantly in the headspace of picked flowers. The linalool content also rose from 3% to 30% of the total volatiles.2

Jasmine absolute produced from a pomade varies in odour from jasmine absolute produced from concrete. Generally, the indole note is more pronounced in the pomade-absolute than in the absolute from concrete.5

Adulteration

Because of jasmine absolute’s high price and very low yield during extraction, adulteration is very common. It is commonly adulterated with synthetic components such as indole, cinnamic aldehyde, cis-jasmone, farnesene, benzyl benzoate, benzyl acetate and fractions of ylang ylang.5,6

History

Jasmine’s fragrant flowers have been used since antiquity for personal adornment and in religious ceremonies.2

The word jasmine is derived from the Arabic word meaning Yasmin or ‘gift from God’. In India, jasmine sambac is commonly known as ‘Queen of the Night’, because the scent is stronger during the hours of darkness. The importance of the jasmine flower has been symbolically used throughout the centuries.

In the Philippines, J. sambac is traditionally called sampaguita meaning ‘I promise you’ and its flower is a symbol of fidelity, purity and eternal love.3

In China, the jasmine flower symbolises the sweetness of women, while in India it symbolises divine hope. In the 15th century jasmine was cultivated for its fragrant flowers in the gardens of the emperors of China, Afghanistan, Iran and Nepal. It was not until around 1600 when jasmine was brought to Spain by the Moors that it first made its appearance in Europe.

J. sambac, also known as Tuscan jasmine, was introduced into India by the Duke of Tuscany about 1691. Jasmine reached China along the Silk Road and the use of its flowers to flavour tea, mo-li-hau-cha, originated there. Such teas now use J. paniculatum flowers.2

Traditional medicine

As a medicinal plant jasmine has traditionally been considered an aphrodisiac and relaxant.6

Jasmine species were mentioned in ancient Indian Ayurvedic literature. The oil was traditionally used in treatment of various conditions such as arthritis, hepatitis, conjunctivitis, gastritis and diarrhea.3

In China, the flowers of J. officinale var. grandiflorum are mainly used to treat hepatitis, pain due to liver cirrhosis, and abdominal pain due to dysentery, while the flowers of J. sambac are used to treat conjunctivitis, skin ulcers and tumours, as well as abdominal pain due to dysentery.7

Pharmacology and clinical studies

Many pharmacological studies involving jasmine absolute have been published. A systemic review of these studies will not be attempted. Rather, I have chosen a selection of studies that support the traditional and clinical uses.

Antimicrobial activity

A limited number of studies have investigated jasmine absolute’s antimicrobial activity. An in vitro study confirmed that J. sambac oil showed good antifungal activity against Aspergillus flavus, Trichophyton mentagrophytes, T. tonsurans, T. verrucosum, Epidermatophyton floccosum and Microsporum nanum. The antimicrobial activity of jasmine absolute is often associated with the linalool content.3

Antispasmodic activity

An in vitro study utilising guinea pig ileum demonstrated that jasmine absolute had a spasmolytic activity. It was suggested that the spasmolytic activity was mediated through cAMP.7

Childbirth

A six-month trial was conducted involving 500 women at a maternity hospital using essential oils such as chamomile, clary sage, eucalyptus, jasmine, frankincense, lavender, lemon, mandarin, peppermint and rose. The oils were administered by inhalation, bath and massage. A high level of overall satisfaction by mothers and midwives was noted on the use of essential oils during labour.8

Neurophysiological activity

The effect on the pentobarbital sleep time by olfactory stimulation using various odorants was investigated in mice. The study found that jasmine shortened the sleep time. The researchers concluded that olfactory stimulation associated with odour inhalation influences pentobarbital sleep time.9

A study clearly identified jasmine has excitatory effect and sedative effects for lavender in a human vigilance test.10

During the vigilance test taken by 24 subjects, lavender significantly increased reaction time whereas jasmine significantly decreased reaction time compared to control group in which no essential oil was inhaled. The results confirmed that lavender had a sedative effect while jasmine had an excitatory effect on behaviour.11

Jasmine oil shortened the pentobarbital-induced sleeping time of mice to 77% of the control group. The researchers identified cis- and trans-phytol as the components responsible for this effect.12

A study investigating the effect of aromatherapy massage with jasmine oil on humans found that jasmine oil caused significant increases in breathing rate, blood oxygen saturation and systolic and diastolic blood pressure, which indicated an increase of autonomic arousal. At an emotional level, subjects in the jasmine group rated themselves as more alert and less relaxed than subjects in the control group. The author notes that this provides evidence for the use of jasmine for the relief of depression and uplifting mood in humans.13

A single-blind clinical trial found that ten-pin bowling in the presence of the odour of jasmine improved scores by 26.7%. The authors stated that the possible mechanisms of action include mood regulation, enhanced alertness and concentration, anxiolysis, increased self-confidence and improved hand-eye coordination.14

Another study was designed to determine if certain odours could increase human’s ratings and tolerance of pain. The results indicated that peppermint and jasmine odour significantly decreased ratings of pain over time and increased overall pain tolerance. The participants reported reduced mental, physical and temporal workload requirement, decreased effort and frustration, and increased performance and vigor.15

Properties

Antidepressant, antiseptic, antispasmodic, aphrodisiac, parturient, sedative, uterine16,17,18

Aromatherapy Uses

Psychological

The therapeutic value of jasmine absolute is inseparable from the exquisite, comforting sweetness of its aroma, and the effect it has on the mind and emotions. Jasmine is considered one of the most effective essential oils for nervous anxiety, restlessness and depression.19

The fragrance of jasmine diminishes fear; it is helpful in enhancing self-confidence and defeating pessimism.

Mojay explains that jasmine is ideal whenever fear and vulnerability, or anxiety and depression, cut us off from our ability to share physical pleasure and affection. Jasmine can reawaken our passion and reunite it with love, providing us with support and reassure us.19

Holmes describes jasmine as a depression fighter equal to melissa, basil and ylang ylang. Jasmine acts best on depression of the Yang deficiency. This includes symptoms such as apathy, chilliness, fatigue, weakness and restlessness.20

Jasmine absolute has been described as a powerful antidepressant of a stimulating nature. It is recommended when depression has given rise to lethargy.21

Reproductive system

Jasmine absolute is one of the most useful oils to use during childbirth. If it is used as a massage oil on the abdomen and lower back in the early stages of labour it will relieve the pain and strengthen the contractions. It helps with the expulsion of the placenta after delivery and aids postnatal recovery.16,21 It can be used to relieve spasms of the uterus and delayed and painful menstruation.1,16

Skin care

Jasmine absolute is particularly useful in skin care and is used to treat dry and irritated skin.16,20

Energetics

Jasmine absolute regulates the Qi of the Heart and harmonises the Shen. Whenever we experience disharmony of the Shen we may experience feelings of moodiness, anxiety, irritability, restlessness and insomnia. We lack inspiration and insight and there is no ‘heart and soul’ to life.

According to the principles of Five Elements, jasmine strengthens the Fire Element.

According to the principles of Ayurveda, jasmine has a strong affinity with Pitta dosha, it reduces excess Kapha dosha and stimulates the Vata dosha.

Personality

Worwood describes the jasmine personality as the passionate seductress, gentle and charismatic, bewitching all those who come into her presence.22

While Worwood is describing the female jasmine personality, she states that the male jasmine man is equally charming, charismatic and at ease with his femininity. Jasmine is a no-holds-barred personality, the passionate seductress, gentle and charismatic, bewitching all who come into her presence. Jasmine personalities are joyful, happy people, comfortable with themselves. They can be unnerving if you are not used to them, particularly at work.22

According to Myers-Briggs personality types, the jasmine personality is likely to be an ESFP. ESFPs are friendly, witty, charming and talkative. They value and nurture their relationships, give generously, without expecting anything in return. They are spontaneous, playful and enjoy everything they do and see. People who share their sense of fun and adventure are their favourite companions. They turn everything into a fun-filled event. They enjoy good things in life – music, dance, food, drink and entertainment. They avoid being alone. They like working in a lively and stimulating atmosphere with friendly, energetic people. They can be good at dealing with the public. They like variety and frequent change of tasks or jobs. They are enthusiastic, high-spirited and have lots of energy.

Subtle

Lavabre best summarises the subtle qualities of jasmine when he says that it releases inhibition, liberates imagination, develops exhilarating playfulness and has the power to transcend physical love fully releasing both male and female sexual energy.16

Mojay recommends jasmine for depression which results from unconscious restraint and repression – an approach to life based on values discordant with the individual soul and its true desires.19

Zeck recommends using jasmine when you are faced with seemingly unresolved emotional challenges and feeling fearful. She states that the exotic beauty of jasmine will dissolve those fears and provide divine inspiration.23

Worwood states that jasmine softly embraces the spirit and the heart. This promotes a greater understanding of the conscious mind. She explains that jasmine’s purpose is to provide us with our personal haven – this allows us to find a greater resonation with our higher self. She explains that our aspirations may not always be what is required to follow a spiritual journey. Often our dreams and wishes for others may deflect them from our spiritual journey. Jasmine helps us to understand and accept this.24

According to Keim Loughran & Bull, Jasmine promotes love and sensuality. It also connects our spirituality and sexuality, and promotes creativity and artistic development.25

Blending

Aromatherapy

To alleviate depression consider blending jasmine absolute with essential oils such as bergamot, black pepper, coriander seed, geranium, ginger, grapefruit, lavender, sweet orange, rose absolute, sandalwood or ylang ylang.

For the relief of anxiety, stress and nervous tension, consider blending jasmine absolute with essential oils such as bergamot, coriander seed, geranium, lavender, neroli, sweet orange, patchouli, sandalwood or ylang ylang.

For the relief of PMS and dysmenorrhoea consider blending jasmine absolute with essential oils such as Roman chamomile, clary sage, sweet fennel, geranium, lavender, sweet marjoram or ylang ylang.

Perfumery

Arctander states that whenever a floral note is required eight times out of ten cases the perfumer will use a jasmine base. Jasmine is often blended with rose to create the heart and soul of any floral based perfume. He gives us some practical advice when he explains that the practising student perfumer is often surprised when they learn how little jasmine absolute has to be used to create a floral note.5

Perfect Potion classics with Jasmine

There is something very sensual about jasmine. Novelist Tom Robbin’s description of Jasmine in his classic novel Jitterbug Perfume, describes the intense uplifting and sensual nature of jasmine:

Ah, yes, leave it to jasmine to soothe the savage beast, for jasmine in its delightful way performs an olfactory pantomime of glad animal movements from times gone by. A few other flowers may be as sweet, but jasmine is sweet without sentiment, sweet without effeteness, sweet without compromise; it is aggressively sweet, outrageously sweet: ‘I am sweet’ says jasmine, ‘and if you don’t like it, you can kiss my sweet ass.’ Expansive, yet never cloying; romantic, yet seldom melancholy.26

This pretty much describes what will happen to your blend when you add jasmine to it. It is therefore not surprising that Lust Pulse Point and Perfect Passion Massage Oil contain jasmine. These blends make use of rose absolute, patchouli and a small amount of sandalwood to tame the evocative jasmine.

Jasmine blends perfectly with ylang ylang, cardamom, patchouli, sandalwood and mandarin in Allure Chakra Blend to promote creativity and passion and help balance the sacral chakra. With 22 essential oils in Green Goddess Blend, jasmine plays an important role in creating the quintessential Perfect Potion blend.

The spirit of India is perfectly captured in Shanti Peace Perfume with jasmine, champaka, sandalwood, coriander seed, and clove bud – all essential oils from India. Sweet orange and ylang ylang have been delicately balanced with jasmine to create a warm, comforting floral scent of Green Tea and Jasmine Range which includes a double cream, body lotion and body perfume.

Full Bloom Birthing Oil combines jasmine with clary sage and lavender to help one prepare for the miracle of birth.

How to use

Bath

Full body bath, foot bath

Topical

Compress, massage, ointment, skin care

Inhalation

Direct inhalation, diffuser, oil vaporiser

Safety

Jasmine absolute is non-irritating, non-sensitising and non-toxic. However, Khan & Abourashed have cited coniferyl acetate coniferyl benzoate as allergenic components of the jasmine absolute.7

IFRA recommends a dermal limit of 0.7% for jasmine absolute.27

References

Please download the PDF for full list of references.

 

Pretty LotusPretty Lotus