By Lia Blanchard
Welcome to Aromatherapy 101, a series of articles discovering the reasons for our responses – both positive and negative – to certain scents, and ways to incorporate the beauty of fragrance to enhance your quality of life.
Our fifth and final article in the series looks at jasmine, the tiny night-blooming flower that packs a very fragrant punch.
Jasmine is native to the Himalayans of Western China and Tibet, and so valuable that it was traded on the Silk Road. References to the fragrant plant can be found in ancient writings from Persia, China, and Egypt.
Indian myth says that the plant sprang from the ashes of a beautiful princess who had killed herself after being rejected by the sun god, and this is why the blossoms only flower at night.
The Hindu love god Kamadeva holds jasmine – also known in India as “moonlight of the grove” – sacred, and it is commonly found in Hindu weddings.
Medicinal and Aromatherapeutic Uses
Traditional medicine used jasmine in China to treat dysentery, hepatitis, and cirrhosis of the liver. Western healers used the plant as an aid in childbirth and problems with nerves, reproduction, and respiratory issues.
Modern alternative medicine practitioners, including aromatherapists, use jasmine oil – usually found in a carrier oil, such as jojoba – to alleviate many discomforts:
- Skin care: irritation, dryness, and sensitivity
- Hormonal and reproductive problems: menstrual cramping, uterine disorders, and to reduce the pain of childbirth while strengthening contractions, so it is often classified as a “woman’s oil.”
- Psychological difficulties: anxiety, tension, depression, frigidity, increase mental alertness
Extraction of the oil is a difficult process because the flowers are so small, and only bloom at night. Synthetic jasmine has been attempted, but it is found to be quite harsh, and does not quite duplicate the delicate aroma of “true” essential oil.
Do you have any jasmine plants or jasmine scents in your home?