Queen of the night

PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 October, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 19 October, 2009, 12:00am

Jasmine is used for everything from tea to aphrodisiacs, and it comes as no surprise that the versatile flower is known in Persia as a 'gift of God'.

In ancient times, the Chinese drank jasmine tea on a daily basis and also used the flower in sick rooms to cleanse the air.

The Egyptians used it to relieve nervous disorders, insomnia and headaches.

Also known as the 'queen of the night', because it blooms only at nightfall, this white star-shaped flower is often used as a base note for perfumery due to its penetrating floral aroma.

But therapeutically, the flower is more sought after for its powerfully relaxing and stimulating characteristics that aid the body as an antidepressant, sedative and powerful aphrodisiac. The sensual, rich aroma soothes nerves while boosting confidence, optimism and euphoria.

Jasmine oil is also used as a great toner for dry, greasy and sensitive skin. It can be blended in lotions and creams to encourage cell growth and increase skin elasticity, reducing possibilities of stretch marks and scarring.

This useful oil doesn't come cheap. Although jasmine grows and flowers relatively easily in rich and moist soil, it only produces a few delicate flowers per plant.

To produce a mere ounce of essential oil requires thousands of waxy petals, which accounts for the oil's exorbitant price tag.