Would Michael Jackson still be alive if he had smelled Jasmine?

August 31, 2010
Volume 07    |   Issue 35

Very possibly. At the very least, he could have used aromatherapy instead of barbiturates or propofol. They could have removed some of his anxiety and helped him sleep. And aromatherapy has never killed anyone.

Smelling a spice isn’t a strong enough tranquilizer, you say? A group of German scientists would disagree. They tested hundreds of fragrances on the GABA receptors in both people and mice. They discovered that Vertacetal-coeur, the fragrance in Jasmine, has the same molecular action and strength as barbiturates or propofol. In fact, when the researchers exposed mice to this fragrance, they stopped running around and quietly laid down.

GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) is your brain’s master neurotransmitter. It’s essential for your brain and central nervous system to function. It also helps produce “feel good” endorphins. When you have enough GABA, your brain — and you — can relax and rest.

These scientists found that Jasmine fragrance works by enhancing the activity of GABA. None of the other fragrances they tested worked as well as Jasmine. It increased GABA as much as pharmaceuticals. It looks like Jasmine could be a drug-free replacement for some benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and even anesthetics like propofol.

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But before you throw away your tranquilizers you should know that this study was a laboratory study, not one conducted on people. We don’t know that it will work the same way in humans. That said, it can’t hurt to try it. You might want to try sniffing Jasmine essential oil before going to bed at night to see what effect it has on you.

If smelling this essential oil doesn’t work, you can take a GABA supplement, available in health food stores and on the Internet. Begin with 100 mg taken half an hour before going to bed. If that’s not enough, try 200 mg.

Getting enough sleep is essential to your ability to get and stay healthy. But that doesn’t mean you need drugs to get your zzz’s. Jasmine could be all you need.

Your voice of reason in Women's Health,


Sergeeva, O.A., O. Kletke, A. Kragler, A. Poppek, W. Fleischer, S.R. Schubring, B. Goerg, H.L. Haas, X.R. Zhu, H. Luebbert, G. Gisselmann, and H. Hatt. “Fragrant dioxane derivatives identify 1 subunit-containing GABA receptors.” Journal of Biological Chemistry, 2010; DOI: 10.1074/jbc.M110.103309.

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