Jasmine belongs to the Oleacea family. Its fragrant white or yellow star shaped flowers play an important role in modern perfumery. While this is a genus that includes over 300 species of hardy evergreen shrubs or vines, the two varieties of Jasmine that are generally used to extract an aromatic absolute from are Jasminum officinale var. grandiflorum, which according to Guenther grows wild in the higher altitudes of the Maritime Alps andJasminum sambac, which is the national flower of both the Philippines and Indonesia. J. grandiflorum was first introduced into France from Spain and has been extensively grown in the Grasse region of Southern France for over two hundred years. In addition to growing in Southern France, Jasmine is also grown in Italy, Egypt and Morocco. Jasmine is native to Northern India, Persia and China and is now widely cultivated throughout the Mediterranean and North Africa.
Jasmine is a classic example of a flower, which even after having been detached from the plant, continues to develop and emit its natural perfume. The greatest challenge to extracting oil from Jasmine is to capture the full amount of perfume, which exists when the plant is picked, as well as to capture the perfume, which develops after it has been picked. For a long time the only way that Jasmine oil was extracted was by enfleurage. However as this is a very delicate procedure, involving a great deal of hand labor, it is a very expensive method and in modern times enfleurage has, for the most part, been replaced by solvent extraction. Solvent extraction results in the production of a concrete and an absolute. This is a far more economical way of producing the oil. Although there are some who do not think that absolutes have any part in true aromatherapy, when it comes to perfumery Jasmine certainly has a very strong place. Jasmine flowers are picked at night when the aroma is at its strongest and the oil can be pale-yellow to orange-yellow and even sometimes brown in colour. Jasmine blends well with all florals, citrus, clary sage, oakmoss and sandalwood.
Psychologically, Jasmine has aphrodisiac, calming and sedative properties and its use can be considered for dispelling fear, uplifting one’s mood, emotional suffering, lightening of depression and stress related disorders.
On the physiological level it has antispasmodic and calming properties and it is thought to regulate and deepen breathing. It is also thought to be useful both during and after childbirth.
Contraindications: Avoid in pregnancy and use with caution on those who are hypersensitive or allergic to perfumes and cosmetics.
Ernest Guenther, The Essential Oils Vol. V, Krieger Publishing, Malabar, Florida, 1952, reprinted 1976.
Beverley Hawkins, Aromatherapy 201 Course 2000