Jasmine (Jasminum officinale) is a gorgeous and wonderfully fragrant garden plant and a surprisingly potent medicinal herb with several impressive health benefits. Aside from anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties, jasmine boasts mild sedative effects and offers antioxidant protection against free radical molecules and oxidative stress as a result of its phytochemical content. Jasmine has a long history of use for nervous disorders and sleep problems.
Infusions, decoctions or tinctures made from jasmine flowers were traditionally used for the treatment of a great variety of illnesses, including diarrhea, stomach ulcers, galstones, diabetes, fatigue, nervousness, headaches, rashes, leprosy and tumors, to name a few. While more research is needed to fully comprehend the mechanism of action of jasmine flowers, existing research suggests the extracts from various jasmine plant varieties are useful alternative treatments.
What does jasmine look and smell like? The common jasmine (Jasminum officinale), also called poet’s jasmine, white jasmine, jessamine or simply jasmine is a bushy, climbing flowering plant from the same family as olives. It has elongated, pointy, shiny leaves arranged in the shape of a feather and beautiful, star-like, waxy white flowers with an almost overwhelming perfume. Jasmine flowers open at dusk and release a strong, sweet scent that can easily envelop an entire garden.
Another popular jasmine variety employed for medicinal uses is Jasminum sambac, alternatively known as Arabian jasmine. Arabian jasmine can grow up to 3 meters in height and flowers throughout the year, producing clusters of tiny waxy white flowers that open at dusk and close in the morning, releasing a strong sweet perfume.
What does jasmine tea taste like? Jasmine tea was originally prepared with a green tea or white tea base. Overall, it should have a mellow, soft and rich taste with the distinctive sweet, floral jasmine scent. Jasmine flowers have a bitter taste.
Research on jasmine and its health benefits is scarce. Nonetheless, the studies conducted so far reveal the flowers (and sometimes roots) hold quite impressive antioxidant, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, resulting in a variety of health benefits. So what does jasmine do for your health? Here are some of its most prominent medicinal properties:
1) Offer antioxidant protection. Jasmine has been found to contain a variety of polyphenols, natural compounds with fierce antioxidant properties. Alkalloids, flavonoids, emodine, anthocyanins, coumarins and saponins are some of the biologically active compounds in jasmine (Comparative preliminary phytochemical studies pf jasminium multiflorum and jasminum officinale).
Alkaloides, for example, have shown anticancer, vasodilatory, antibacterial and mildly sedative properties. Flavonoids boast antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic and anticancer activity. Emodine is believed to improve insulin resistance and diabetes associated symptoms. Antioxidants in general protect cells and DNA against harmful free radical molecules and prevent damage that could disrupt normal cell activity, causing them to turn malignant.
2) Calming effects. Jasmine boasts quite impressive calming effects and the use of jasmine oil in aromatherapy has been shown to induce relaxation and reduce stress levels considerably. The use of jasmine essential oil in aromatherapy is believed to help treat headaches. These effects are a result of the plant’s mild sedative properties and pleasant, sweet scent. Although rarely used, jasmine root also boasts soothing and calming properties.
3) Endocrine benefits. Animal studies have shown that jasmine flowers may help reduce serum progesterone levels, contributing to hormonal balance when there is a progesterone upsurge. However, this may contribute to reduced fertility in women enjoying hormonal balance (Antifertility activity of the floral buds of Jasminum officinale Var. grandiflorum in rats).
4) Great for skin care. The volatile essential oils responsible for the sweet, soothing aroma of jasmine flowers together with bioactive anti-inflammatory compounds appear to recommend the plant for skin care. Jasmine is believed to help soothe sensitive skin and act as a local antiseptic.
5) Natural antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal agent. The bioactive compounds in jasmine flowers have potent antimicrobial properties. This would explain the traditional uses of jasmine for treating hepatitis, cirrhosis or dysentery. However, it is best to refer to a medical professional in such cases.
6) Other uses. Folk medicine recommends the use of jasmine flower extract for gastrointestinal problems (diarrhea, constipation, flatulence, intestinal parasites), skin care (wounds, ulcers, leprosy), hormonal imbalances and associated problems (high progesterone levels), tumors, mouth eruptions, tooth aches and vascular health. However, solid research is required to prove the effectiveness of the plant for such purposes.
Overall, jasmine is safe for use by the general population, with the exception of pregnant women and individuals particularly sensitive to specific compounds in the plant. Jasmine oil for aromatherapy is a recommended alternative solution to easing labor pains, but is not recommended before the actual birth as it can encourage blood flow to the pelvic area and potentially cause a miscarriage.
Also, some people are naturally sensitive to constituents in the plant and may display mild allergic reactions. Such side effects are believed to be a result of the flowers’ benzyl acetate content, a principal constituent of jasmine essential oil. Used since tribal times, jasmine is more of a medicinal herb than an ornamental garden plant and preliminary research regarding its health benefits encourages its medical use.