No, I am not talking about a character from Aladdin! Rather the pretty flower from where the name originates.
Known as Queen of The Night, (while also being known as the King of Flowers) the intoxicating scent of this flower is released after the sun goes down – an unusual characteristic, believed to be a symbol of the plant's modesty - and it came to symbolise such by many cultures. The name Jasmine – and the plant - is of Persian origin and means ‘gift from God’. The word is derived from the Persian word Yasmin, appropriately meaning ‘fragrant flower’.
It has come to represent the qualities of beauty, purity and innocence – as well as sensuality, which explains its inclusion in bridal bouquets. In fact, the Spanish word for Jasmine, Sampaguita, comes from the Philipino words ‘sumpa kita’, which means ‘I promise you’. In earlier times, a bride and groom exchanged necklaces of sampaguita in much the same way as wedding rings are today.
There is a legend along this vein in Tuscany, whereby a Persian trader gifted a Tuscan gardener a Jasmine plant. He planted it in his private garden, refusing to let anyone take cuttings from it. On the day it bloomed, he presented it to his love, who was so enchanted by the scent that she agreed to marry him. Thus the Tuscan tradition of jasmine flowers at weddings was born. The Grand Duke of Tuscany even had a special recipe for chocolate that included jasmine flowers as an ingredient. It included cinnamon, vanilla and ambergris – it sounds delectable indeed.
Jasmine, as well as being ubiquitous at wedding celebrations, has been used in other religious ceremonies – such as burials – by many ancient cultures. The Egyptians, who would bath in hot water scattered with jasmine flowers, also used to decorate mummies, as well as tombs and statues – proving how highly this flower was regarded, given that statues were only built to represent and honour gods or pharaohs.
It has been said that jasmine was one of the first plant cultivated purely for its scent – since it is considered an aphrodisiac, perhaps this is no surprise (it surely wasn’t to the Tuscan gardener).
Just as the Scotch Pine is the national tree of Scotland, the Jasmine flower is the national flower to several countries - Hawaii, Indonesia, Pakistan and the Philippines. It is also the national flower of Tunisia, and here we see a slight deviation in themes of purity and innocence. The uprising in 2011, known as the Arab Spring, was dubbed the Jasmine Revolution by foreign press, which also used this term to refer to the change in Tunisian presidency in 1987. Pro-democracy protests in China in 2011 also used jasmine as a symbol, in reference to and empathy with the Tunisian Revolution.
Jasmine is first made into an absolute – it is not steam distilled as many essential oils are. The 3% in jojoba blend is then made from this absolute.
A very heady, sensual oil, and a well-known aphrodisiac, Jasmine essential oil is also wonderful for pain relief during childbirth (and so it should be, potentially being responsible for it!). It is also one of the best oils for uplifting the spirits, making it excellent for addressing states of anxiety, depression (including post-natal) and fear, as well as boosting our self-confidence.
Both as an aphrodisiac and anti-depressant, it works where there are inhibitions and repressed feelings, indeed Holmes says that ‘possibly the key function of Jasmine by olfaction is its disinhibiting and integrating effect on the personality, with the net result of bolstering self-esteem’.
This is summed up perfectly by Lavabre, who states that Jasmine ‘releases inhibition, liberates imagination, and develops exhilarating playfulness.’ What an exquisite, delightful oil.
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Holmes, P. Aromatica, Volume 2. (2019). Singing Dragon
Lavabre, M. Essential Oils and Aromatherapy Workbook. 2020. Healing Arts Press.
Wikipedia. July 2022. Tunisian Revolution. Accessed 15/8/22. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tunisian_Revolution
Britannica. 2021. Jasmine Revolution. Accesssed 15/8/22.
Saje. 2022. Jasmine Oil Uses, Benefits, and History. Accessed 15/8/22.
Top Tropicals. 2022. Jasminum Sambac - History and Facts. Accesses 15/8/22.
Little Flower Hut. 2019. All About Jasmine - History, Meaning, Facts, Care and More. Accessesd 15/8/22.
Known Insiders. 2020. 19 Interesting FACTS about Jasmine. Accessed 15/8/22.