Each flower has its own unique beauty that offers great pleasure for many people, but not many reveal medicinal properties. Gardenias are known for their powerful floral smell scent and because of that commonly used in candles and lotions. But, this popular flower is highly appreciated in traditional Chinese medicine where each flower, root, and leaf is used for a particular health purpose.
Gardenia is a part of the Rubiaceae plant family and commonly grows in Asia and the Pacific Islands such as China and Japan. This plant can be found under many names like Gardenia jasminoides, Danh Danh, Gardênia, Gardenia augusta, Cape Jasmine, Cape Jessamine, Gardenia florida, or Gardenia radicans.
This plant is named in the in honor of Alexander Garden (1730–1791), who was a well-known botanist, zoologist and physician who made the distinction of the gardenia species. Historically, gardenias have been often used as a symbol of purity, trust, love, devotion, and refinement.
Nowadays, this plant is grown everywhere in the world, but this dark green evergreen shrub loves and thrives well only in warm climates. It produces fragrant white flowers that can turn yellow, beige or orange. The shrub can be very wide and reach a height of 3 to 6 feet high.
There are more than 250 different types of gardenia plants; however the essential oil is derived only from one type named as Gardenia jasminoides Ellis.
The herbal medicine and aromatherapy frequently uses the ethanol extract of gardenia fruit and flowers. Thanks to its incredible and seductive aroma it offers body relaxation and because of that it is commonly added in lotions, perfumes, and body wash products.
Health Benefits of Gardenias
This plant acts as a natural antibacterial, analgesic, diuretic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antifungal, and detoxicant agent. The gardenia essential oil is widely used for medicinal purposes, especially in the treatment of tumors and infections.
Here it is what gardenia plants and their essential oil can treat:
- Anxiety and depression
- Jaundice, liver damage and disease
- Acid reflux, vomiting, gas IBS and other digestive concerns
- Slow-healing wounds
- Bloody urine or stools
- Infections like bladder and urinary tract infections
- Protection against tumors by neutralizing the free radical damage
- Muscle spasms
- Insulin resistance, glucose intolerance, and other heart and diabetes-related risk factors
- Brain fog and fatigue
- Low libido
- Menstrual pains
- Low milk production in lactating women
Gardenia reveals powerful antioxidant action thanks to the content of numerous antioxidants and at least 20 active compounds such as ursolic acid, rutin, stigmasterol, benzyl and phenyl acetates, linalool, terpineol, crociniridoids (including coumaroylshanzhiside, butylgardenoside, and methoxygenipin) and phenylpropanoid glucosides.
Let us specifically explain what can gardenia extracts, flowers, and essential oil offer to your body:
- Battle against colds, respiratory/sinus infections and congestion – thanks to the content of antibacterial, antioxidant and antiviral compounds. The topical use of gardenia essential oil will support the healing and battle against the infections.
- Treat pain – namely gardenia extracts, oil and tea have been proven to be effective in the treatment of pain caused by headaches, PMS, arthritis, and injuries such as muscle cramps and sprains. Gardenia can be used for the treatment of chronic pains, fatigue and various illnesses.
- Help with high cholesterol, insulin resistance/glucose intolerance, liver damage, diabetes, heart disease and liver disease – due to high content of antioxidants the gardenia essential oil can neutralize the harmful effect of the free radicals. Plus, the content of geniposide and genipin boost the anti-inflammatory effect.
- Deal with various gastrointestinal issues – including lesions and infections caused by H. pylori action, gastritis, acid reflux, and ulcers. This is due to the presence of ursolic acid and genipin that provide powerful antigastritic activities, antioxidant activities and acid-neutralizing properties. In addition to this, the genipin promotes good digestion of fats by improving the production of certain enzymes.
- Lower stress, anxiety, depression, and restlessness – and because of that widely used in various herbal formulas and aromatherapies in the traditional Chinese Medicine. Most benefits are being derived from an extract named as the Gardenia jasminoides Ellis that has the ability to the fight against depression by stimulating the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) expression in the limbic system, which is considered the “emotional center” of the brain.
- Fight Alzheimer – because Gardenia extracts enhance the memory in the older generation and as well as in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. The compounds, geniposide and gardenoside, can suppress the expression of immune-related genes in the brain.
How to use and dose different forms of gardenia?
- Gardenia Supplements/Capsules
Safe dosage is 3-12 grams per day, and these supplements are available online or in health stores.
Make certain to use solely 100% pure organic gardenia essential oil and as such can be diffused in your home. In terms of topical use, it is being diluted with a carrier oil like almond, coconut, or jojoba oil. It can get easily included into perfumes, baths, lotions, and body sprays. In order to alleviate stress diffuse it throughout your bedroom or add several drops into your bath.
The sticky pulp of this plant is being dried out and then ground in order to make a concentrated powder. The Gardenia resin is made from the plant’s stems and branches.
It acts as a natural diuretic and although it reveals light and sweet taste you can enhance its flavor with herbs like rosemary, oregano, basil, and thyme.
Children, pregnant or nursing women should avoid this plant.
The use of gardenia capsules or essential oil may trigger diarrhea or loose stools, appetite loss, and skin irritation and inflammation.
Gardenia in Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda
According to the beliefs of the traditional Chinese Medicine the strong, bitter and cold properties of gardenia protect the heart, lungs, and stomach. This plant is commonly used for the treatment of high blood pressure, bleeding, swellings, urinary tract infections, pain and insomnia. In addition to this, the Chinese use it to purge excess heat, dispel damp heat and cool the blood.
Their recommended dosage is around 3-12 grams a day.
On the other hand, Ayurveda uses it in the treatment of fever, wounds, indigestion, stomach pain, and skin diseases. The resin of gardenia is commonly used in Ayurveda in the treatment of intestinal worms, bloating and constipation, coughs, and inflammation of the gums. The resin can be taken in a powder form or applied topically.
The recommended dosage is 200-500 milligrams of powder on daily basis.
The gardenia flavor offers unique flavor and because of that it is easily included into the cooking process. Here are some interesting recipes:
A Recipe of Chestnut Kinton for Osechi
- 10 ounces of sweet potatoes
- 2 dried gardenia fruit
- 10 candied chestnuts
- 4 tablespoons of chestnut syrup
- 3 tablespoons of sugar
- 2 tablespoons of Mirin
- 5 tablespoons of cooking broth
- A pinch of salt
Method of Preparation:
Start by nicely peeling the sweet potatoes by removing about 1cm of their peel, and then cut them into round slices (1 inch thick). Place them in water to soak for 10 minutes. Next, cut the gardenia fruit in half and wrap the halves in gauze. Place both ingredients in a saucepan, on a medium heat, and boil them till they become soft. Remove the gardenia fruit from the pan and then strain the potatoes.
Put the potatoes in a food processor along with the cooking broth, and add half of the chestnut syrup. Mix till the mixture becomes homogenous. Transfer the resulting mixture in a saucepan, and then include the rest of the chestnut syrup, the mirin, and the sugar. Combine everything for a few minutes on low heat. Season it with salt and then add the candied chestnuts and leave it to simmer for 2 minutes.
A Recipe of Goji Berry Hot Beverage with Gardenia flower Liquor
- 1 tablespoon of dried Goji berry
- ¾ cup of boiled water
- 1 teaspoon of homemade Gardenia liquor
Method of Preparation:
Pour the boiled water in a cup, and then add the Goji berry. Allow it to soak for a few minutes till the dried goji berry softens. In the end, add the gardenia flower liquor.
A Recipe of Glossy ‘Kurikinton’ Chestnut Paste
- Half a kilo of sweet potatoes
- 1 Gardenia flower with its seeds
- 1/3 cup of candied chestnut syrup
- 16 sweet chestnuts in syrup
- ½ cup of castor sugar
- 2 tablespoons of Mirin
Method of Preparation:
Nicely peel off the potato skin by removing around 1 cm of the sweet potato skin. Cut it into round pieces and rinse them in water.
In a saucepan pour the water and then add the cracked gardenia seeds, and sweet potatoes. Place it over medium heat and boil till they turn soft. Leave it aside to cool off, strain the liquid and the rest of the content make it smooth by using a hand mixer, or a masher.
Transfer the mixture into the pot, and then add the syrup and sugar. Place the pot on heat once again and cook till the mixture thickens and becomes amber. Turn off the heat, and stir carefully without cracking the candied chestnuts.
Serve it and enjoy its taste!
How to grow gardenia at home?
You can have gardenia always in your home by planting them at home, but always plant fresh gardenia flowers. In order to grow optimally, plant your gardenia plants where there is full sun or light shade, but best bloom in moist, acidic soil. If your flowers turn yellow, then this means that they are overheated, and in such case place it where there is some shade.
In this way you will always enjoy the unique aroma of gardenia and all its amazing benefits.