Jasmine is a vining or shrub-like plant that worships the sun and can be found abundantly in the tropical and subtropical regions of Asia, Europe, and Africa. Her flowers are either white or yellow and in rare instances, slightly reddish. The precise origin is under debate as some botanists argue Jasmine is from India, while others claim Egypt.
Known botanically as Jasminum officinale, this shrub belongs to the Oleaceae family and is comprised of approximately 600 species. The name “jasmine” is derived from a Persian word meaning “fragrant flower” and is the primary reason the plant is so widely cultivated. The aroma is captivating and heavily sought after.
The Jasmine plant is unique and has flowers that bloom only at night. Jasmine tea is made of Jasmine flowers added to dry tea leaves for consumption. In preparation for tea-making, unopened flowers are removed and stored overnight in a bag where they open and scent the dry leaves. Pretty neat technique!
While Jasmine flowers are most popular for their fragrance, they also offer a wide variety of health benefits and can be consumed as a tea or essential oil. Here are some benefits and uses you can obtain from using Jasmine:
Strengthen the Immune System
Jasmine contains active compounds (flavonoids, phenolics, and saponins) that have high antioxidative and immune boosting properties. When consumed by humans, saponins assist the immune system to protect against viral, fungal, and bacterial assault. Antioxidants are powerful free-radical scavengers and lend help to repair oxidized (damaged) cells, effectively strengthening the immune system.
A strong immune system prevents simple infections such as the common cold or flu but also ensures a life devoid of disease, cancer, and other ailments. At Wild Foods, we are huge proponents of food as medicine and anything that supports health and longevity gets two thumbs up from us!
Several species of Jasmine are said to have anti-carcinogenic properties. Carcinogens are substances capable of causing cancer in living tissues. Quite disturbingly, they are found everywhere, including foods you eat, products you apply to your skin, and clothes you put on your children.
The base of most Jasmine tea is Green tea (the flowers are added for flavor) and Green tea is abundant in polyphenols, which are a known cancer-preventing compounds. While current studies are still ongoing, the Methanolic extract from Jasmine flowers has caused inhibition of cancer cell growth.
Jasmine is known to be very effective as an antiseptic or disinfectant and may be used as a topical ointment for open wounds. With constituents like Benzoic Acid, Benzaldehyde, and Benzyl Benzoate, Jasmine has high germicidal, bactericidal, and fungicidal properties. When applied externally, wounds are prevented from becoming septic and the possibility of contracting tetanus is eliminated.
Jasmine essential oils are used primarily in the cosmetic industry for the sweet aroma, but their therapeutic properties are a huge bonus (say hello, women)! Jasmine oil is a known cicatrisant and highly effective at treating and eliminating scars. Cicatrisant means skin or wound healing and works on a cellular level to repair damage and stimulate cellular proliferation.
This is especially important for new or soon-to-be mommies, as Jasmine oil can diminish the appearance and prevent the onset of scar tissue. You may have earned your tiger stripes, but with Jasmine oil, you can heal them right up!
As a Calming Sedative
Sleeping pills are one of the most frequently prescribed psychotropic drugs on the market with benzodiazepines (a type of sedative) topping the most prescribed drugs overall. Benzodiazepines (like Xanax) are highly addictive (given the typical prescription length) and cause serious side effects such as lack of coordination, dizziness, slurred speech, blurred vision, and confusion.
Skip the sleeping pills and drink some Jasmine tea. Studies have proven the mere scent of the jasmine flower is equally effective as sleeping aids in enhancing the inhibitory neurotransmitter known as GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). GABA is essential for deep sleep and is responsible for calming down brain activity and inducing the onset of sleep.
As an Antidepressant
Jasmine is advised in the treatment of depression and anxiety for not only the calming effects but for its capability to uplift and please the spirit. Jasmine’s aromatic effect stimulates specific hormones, like serotonin, which boost energy and mood.
While the serotonin-depression link is nearly 50 years old and seems increasingly implausible, serotonin does facilitate in every appetitive, autonomic, cognitive, emotion, and motor behavior. Low levels of serotonin can present within these systems as depression or other unwanted conditions.
As an Aphrodisiac
The fragrance of the jasmine flower is also believed to react with other human hormones that help improve the function of the sexual organs. In fact, some communities in Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent decorate the bride with jasmine flowers and spray the bridal room with jasmine essential oil to enhance the wedded couple’s libido!
Female Reproductive Health
In general, the Jasmine plant helps balance hormone levels and improves bodily functions. With known emmenagogue properties, Jasmine helps regulate period cycles and provides relief from other symptoms associated with the menstrual cycle, such as mood swings and hot flashes - particularly for women undergoing menopause.
Jasmine oil is also a Galactagogues and uterine tonic. Uterine tonics tone and strengthen the tissues of the entire reproductive system and galactagogues are substances that increase milk flow. Jasmine oil is a wonderful natural remedy to boost and strengthen female health.
How to Use
Jasmine can be used as a tea or an essential oil, both of which are safe for consumption, and the oil can be used topically as well.
As mentioned before, the jasmine flower is suffused in dry tea leaves (typically green) to become a beverage. To make your own Jasmine tea at home, simply combine our Jasmine flowers with Sencha green tea. Scoop 1 tsp into 8 ounces of boiling water and steep for 2-3 minutes.
The ratio of tea leaves to flowers will depend solely on your preference for aroma. A 1:1 ratio will yield the most fragrant Jasmine tea. (Click here to try our Green Jasmine tea blend.)
Disclaimer: Always test for allergic reactions before using Jasmine for treatment. If you are pregnant or nursing, consult your physician before incorporating Jasmine into your routine.