Essential Oil Files: Jasmine

The scent heralding spring to many people, jasmine's light, sweet and exotic scent drifting through the air is like an olfactory beam of sunlight. Cultivated or growing wild (as weeds – can you believe some people call them weeds?) just about everywhere worldwide, these pretty white flowers come into bloom in early spring, with the daffodils. Their aroma drifts easily, flooding whole streets, flavouring the air with delicious honeyed scent.

Despite our modern conception of jasmine as a carefully tended garden flower, it has its roots growing wild in the tropics of Southeast Asia, not Arabia or India as is commonly believed. It is fast-growing and hardier than it looks: it's one of the most widely cultivated of the aromatics, and also happens to be one of the most expensive to extract oil from. The process for producing the essential oil is laborious: the delicate blooms must be hand-picked at night, when the scent is released, and like other florals, a copious amount of the flowers must be exposed to solvent extraction (steam distillation destroys the delicate scent), carbon-dioxide extraction, or enfleurage (massaging flowers into a layer of fat, which absorbs the scent, before alcohol is added to remove the fat, which then evaporates, leaving pure organic oil. Very time-consuming, but producing divine, solvent-free oil.).

Jasmine shines when it comes to emotional matters. The oil is a powerful self-confidence booster and is thought to help one feel more attractive (its application as an aphrodesiac is well-known!). As a result, it is a useful anti-depressent and helps reduce feelings of anger, fear, frustration, hopelessness and guilt. One study has shown how the use of jasmine oil increased feelings of stimulation in the participants, as well as elevated heart rate, respiration and blood oxygen concentration.

Jasmine is a very feminine oil: it follows that the substance is often used to treat menstrual problems like irregular periods, heavy bleeding, pain and emotional upset. It is excellent for use during childbirth: its emmenagogue action (encouraging regular periods) will bring on contractions.

In terms of skin care, the oil is excellent for sensitive and pale skins, on eczema, dermititis, and dry skin. Blend with a sweet almond or apricot oil for a light finish, and never apply neat, as it can be sensitising. Dilution is 2 drops to 10mL of carrier oil. The oil has also been shown to have bacteriacidal effects, especially on the superbug MRSA.

Sample blends:

For self-confidence: 2 drops jasmine, 1 drop bergamot, 3 drops drop sandalwood to 10mL of sweet almond oil.

To burn on a romantic evening: 3 drops jasmine, 5 drops sandalwood, 2 drops cedarwood, 4 drops geranium to 30mL of water. Alternatively, add 1 drop jasmine, 2 drops sandalwood and 2 drops geranium to 10mL of sweet almond oil to make a luxurious, moisturising massage oil.

To make a soothing skin cream: 2 drops jasmine, 4 drops geranium, 2 drops patchouli to 20mL of sorbolene or aqueous cream.

Make scent bags for your wardrobe by adding 3 drops of jasmine and 5 of lavender to some cotton wadding, and adding to a small drawstring bag, then hanging it up in your cupboard.