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Gardenia Essential Oil Uses and Benefits for Health

Gardenia Essential Oil Uses and Benefits

What is Gardenia Essential Oil?

Gardenia essential oil or gardenia absolute, is the volatile pale yellow, sweet-floral scent extracted by enfleurage method of the flowering tops of Gardenia jasminoides Ellis. Although nowadays, the main extraction methods of G. jasminoides oil are solvent extraction, ultrasound, and microwave-assisted extraction.

Like patchouli essential oil, gardenia absolute can be worn alone as a perfume. Its characteristic sweet-floral aroma, is also rich and heady, and is widely used in the perfume industry.

The essential oil of gardenia blends well with cinnamon, clove, anise, cardamom, lavender, melissa, tea tree, lemongrass, Peru balsam, rosewood, vanilla, benzoin, sandalwood, ylang ylang, jasmine, rose, nutmeg, most citrus oils (such as orange, lemon, mandarin, bergamot, grapefruit, etc.), ginger and turmeric essential oil.

About Gardenia jasminoides

Gardenia jasminoides Ellis, also known as Cape jasmine or Cape jessamine is a fragrant flowering evergreen tropical plant. 

The name Gardenia was given to commemorate Dr. Alexander Garden (1780-1791).

This plant originated in the tropical and subtropical regions of Africa, Southern Asia, Australia, and Oceania with its shiny green leaves and fragrant white summer flowers. It has been cultivated in China for at least ten centuries and was introduced to English gardens in the middle of 18th century.

Some varieties have been bred for horticulture, with low growing, and large and long flowering forms.

The genus Gardenia belongs to Rubiaceae family and there are about 200 species of this genus.  It is cultivated in multiple areas in China, with a Chinese name of Zhi Zi.

G. jasminoides is a flowering evergreen shrub that grows up to 2-5 ft. high.  It is popular around the world due to its fragrant flowers, and is widely sold by florists and grown as an ornamentals.

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The plant has glossy emerald leaves that usually are arranged oppositely or in whorls. Its white or yellow strong scented flowers bloom in summer, and are borne singly or in small clusters.  Whereas the large berry-like fruits contain a sticky orange pulp.

Other names for Gardenia jasminoides in different parts of the world include:

    • Gandhraj (Bengali)
    • Chih-tzu (Chinese)
    • Gandhraj (Hindi)
    • Suvasane malle (Kannada)
    • Kaboklei (Manipuri)
    • Gandroya (Marathi)
    • Rosal (Spanish)

Traditional Uses of Gardenia jasminoides

Gardenia fruits and other parts of the plant have been a part of the folklore of East Asian cultures for centuries, and it is commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine.

The flowers are often used as ornamental plants and for decorative purposes. However, the plant with aromatic flowers, mainly has been applied for the cure of various diseases and physical conditions as well as psychological.

Below, we will learn a little more about its most common traditional uses that have been recorded throughout history.

Gardenia and its traditional uses

The roots were used to treat fever with delirium, and decoction of roots were used for flatulence, dyspepsia, and nervous disorders due to dentition.

Decoction of leaves and flowers were used for dyspepsia, flatulences, nervous disorders and abdominal pains.
  Likewise, decoction of bark were used for menorrhagia and uterine problems.  Flowers decoction, also were used as wash for inflamed eyes.

In addition, poultice of leaves were applied for swollen breasts and relieve headaches. It  was normally  mixed with violets and other herbs to enhance the effectiveness of the remedy.

Decoction of bark, stems and branches were used for intermittent fevers, dysentery, and abdominal pains. Also, as a tonic and to treat jaundice and hepatitis

The fruit of Gardenia jasminoides were used as an antiseptic, specially for toothaches and foul sores.
 Besides, it was useful to treat conditions such as cough, fever. bacillary dysentery, nephritic edema, epistaxis, painful outgrowth on the tongue, mastitis, furuncle, and lymph node tuberculosis

Pulverized fruit blended with water or alcohol, was applied to regions with furuncle, sprains and lymph node tuberculosis.

Resin or paste made from the resin exudate of the fruit, were applied to aching teeth, foul sores, and callous ulcers; also, to keep flies away from sores.

Internally, gardenia helped to expel worms and its resin was consumed to relieve spleen inflammation.

In China, gardenia extract were used traditionally to treat diabetes, and  also for the treatment of inflamed eyes, tumors, painful urination and hematuria.

Infusion of flowers were used as emollient and as an antiophthalmic.  Fruits have been used as emetic, stimulant, and diuretic. Likewise, smaller fruits were used for fever, fluxes, dropsies, lung disease, and jaundice.

Externally, pulp of larger fruits were used as poultice applied to swellings and injuries, and to various ailments like wine-nose, dog-bite, slight burns and scalds. 

Malays consider it a cooling agent.

In Oriental medicine, fruit has been used for inflammation, jaundice, headache, fever, liver disorders and hypertension.

Another traditional use for gardenia has been as decorative. In the Philippines, was used in making wreaths and bouquets.  Besides, in the USA, it was used for making corsages, surpassed only by Cattleya orchid.

In China, gardenia was used to perfume tea and cosmetic preparations

Finally, gardenia is famous due to its natural dye obtained from the yellow fruit. It is identical to the dye of madder (Rubia) and chay root (Oldenlandia), in part because of the crocin constituent, characteristic of Saffron Crocus.

Dye was also used in Thailand for coloring cloth. In China, the dye is used as food coloring.

Chemical Composition of Gardenia Essential Oil

The main volatile compounds in essential oil of Gardenia jasminoides are aliphatic acids, ketones, aldehydes, esters, alcohols and aromatic derivatives.  While its principal constituents are: 

      • Benzyl acetate
      • Phenyl acetate
      • Linalool
      • Linalyl acetate
      • Terpineol
      • Methyl anthranilate

Other major bioactive compounds in gardenia oil are: geniposide, genipin, gardenoside, crocin, and iridoid.

Properties of Gardenia Essential Oil

Among the properties of gardenia oil are: antiophthalmic, emollient, emetic, carminative, cicatrisant, stimulant, diuretic, antiperiodic, expectorant, galactagogue (promotes milk production), parturient (aids childbirth), uterine tonic, cathartic, anthelmintic, alterative, antispasmodic, antiseptic, sedative, analgesic (mild), hypotensive, febrifuge, antidiabetic, anti-inflammatory, antidepressant, antioxidant, aphrodisiac, and promotes the improvement of sleep quality.

Uses of Gardenia Essential Oil

Due to the many medicinal properties that gardenia essential oil possesses, there are also an extensive list of therapeutic and industrial uses which include:

Therapeutic uses

  • Fights infections such as bladder infection and abscesses.
  • Helps in the treatment of jaundice and blood in the urine, sputum or stool.
  • Calms anxiety.
  • Stimulates blood clotting.
  • Promotes restful sleep and fights insomnia.
  • Controls menopausal imbalances.
  • Aids labor.
  • Natural sedative.
  • Enhances circulation.
  • Soothes inflammation, bruises and muscular pain.
  • Alleviates swelling.
  • Reduces arthritis symptoms.
  • Helps interstitial cystitis.
  • Relieves sinus infection.
  • Relaxes spasms and contracted muscles.
  • Relieves menstrual disorders.
  • Improves digestion and relieves discomfort causes by excessive gas.
  • Diminishes stress and nervous tension.
  • Alleviates headaches.
  • Helps treat wounds and skin conditions such as irritations, dryness and inflammations.
  • Massage oil for stress relieving.
  • Alleviates injuries to the muscles, joints and tendons.
  • Lifts mood and fights depression.

Industrial uses

Perfume industry

Gardenia absolute is an important ingredient in the perfume industry and is one of the main component in famous perfumes like Gardenia (Chanel), Flora Gorgeous Gardenia (Gucci), Velvet Gardenia (Tom Ford), Ylang 49 (Le Labo) and Fleurs de Gardenia (Creed), among others.

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Because its intense floral aroma, it is also a favorite ingredient in the confection of soaps, candles, aromatic spritzers, etc.

Food industry

The pulp of the gardenia fruit contains three major groups of water soluble pigments: crocins, iridoids and flavonoids, and in the color industry they are used to impart yellow and blue shades.

Gardenia pigments are used and approved as an edible food colorant in countries of East Asia. Gardenia colors has great light and thermal stability at all pH range.

For example, gardenia red is used as coloring agent for general food, such as noodle, stuffings, cold snacks, red bean & rice, beverages, sweet wine etc.

Gardenia green, as coloring agent or complementary color in mixing wine, soft drinks, fruit juice (flavored) drinks, jams, candies, cakes, jellies, puffed food, pastry, ice cream, etc.

Yellow gardenia is used in coloring for cakes, pastries, candy, wine, fruit juices, beverages, and also in pharmaceutical, cosmetics and other industries.

Finally, gardenia blue is mainly used as a food coloring in confectioneries, beverages, jams, etc., and can be used together with other natural pigments. Besides, it may be added to cosmetics due to its safety.

Benefits of Gardenia Essential Oil

The chemical analysis of G. jasminoides has been mainly focused on extraction technologies in recent years. Obtained extracts have exerted certain biological activities both in vitro and in vivo.

Gardenia essential oil has various biological effects, such as antidiabetic, anti-inflammatory  and antioxidant properties, and also promotes an improvement of the quality of sleep.

In addition, recent research showed that the oil extract from the G. jasminoides had antidepressant activity.  That is how science constantly helps us discover the benefits that nature can provide to our health.

Next, we will review some of the most known benefits that gardenia oil possesses and that have been supported by scientific research.

Hepatoprotective activity

Gardenia jasminoides extract significantly reduced liver damage. Genipin increased hepatoprotection markedly against d-galactosamine/lipopolysaccharides induced hepatic damage related with its anti-oxidative, anti-apoptotic activities, and inhibition of NF-kappaB nuclear translocation and nuclear p-c-Jun expression.

The hepatoprotective effects of geniposidic acid, alleviated galactosamine /lipopolysaccharides-induced liver injury through enhancing antioxidative defense system, and involving apoptotic signaling pathways, which was analogous to that of genipin.

Sleep Benefits

A pilot study was carried out using crocetin, a pharmacologically active carotenoid compound of Gardenia jasminoides.

In the double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover trial of 21 healthy adult men with mild sleep complaints the results showed that crocetin may contribute to improving the quality of sleep.

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Neuroprotective activity for Alzheimer’s disease

Microglia is the prime effectors in immune and inflammatory responses of the central nervous system. Brains of Alzheimer’s disease patients are characterized by large deposits of amyloid beta peptide (Abeta). Abeta is responsible to increase free radical production in nerve cells, leading to cell death that is characterized by lipid peroxidation, DNA/RNA and protein oxidation.

Oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction contribute to the disease progression in Alzheimer’s disease, which geniposide compound found in gardenia oil, exerts protective effects on mitochondrial dysfunction (in APP/PS1 mice), through suppressing the mitochondrial oxidative damage to attenuate memory deficits, and increasing the mitochondrial membrane potential and activity of cytochrome c oxidase through the suppression of mitochondrial oxidative stress. Thus, geniposide regarded to be a potential therapeutic reagent for halting and preventing Alzheimer’s disease progress.

Enhances insulin sensitivity and antidiabetes activity

Insulin resistance leads to type 2 diabetes. G. Jasminoides improve insulin sensitivity in steroid-induced insulin-resistant rats.

Genipin ameliorated age related insulin resistance, which had a close relationship with the improvement of hepatic oxidative stress and mitochondria dysfunction and insulin signal impairment.

Geniposide alleviated abnormal glucose tolerance and hyperinsulinemia, which are recognized in genetic type 2 diabetes patients caused by visceral fat accumulation.

The compound geniposide found in gardenia essential oil, was shown to be an effective hypoglycemic agent in diabetic mice, that significantly decreased blood glucose, insulin, and triglyceride levels in a dose-dependent manner.

Also, geniposide demonstrated beneficial effects on diabetic vascular injury by inhibiting the adhesion of monocytes to human umbilical vein endothelial cells and the expression of cell adhesion molecules induced by high glucose.

It was suggested, that crocetin might prevent dexamethasone-induced insulin resistance by lowering serum insulin, free fatty acids, and blood triglyceride.

Gardenia Essential Oil Uses and Benefits

Gastro-protective activity

Ethanolic extract of Gardenia jasminoides Ellis, exhibited potential anti gastric diseases activity, such as gastritis and gastric cancer due to free radical scavenging activities.

Ursolic acid and crocin compounds in gardenia extracts, showed acid-neutralizing property by less inhibition of NaOH consumption amount, whereas genipin inhibited ethanol-induced gastric lesion in rats.

Gardenia ethanolic extract, ursolic acid and genipin, showed the acid-neutralizing capacities and inhibitory effects on the growth of Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), in which the ethanolic extract and ursolic acid had cytotoxic activity against gastric cancer cells, while genipin and ursolic acid inhibited significant 97.1% ethanol-induced gastric lesions.

Antimicrobial effects

Gardenia essential oil exhibited antimicrobial activities against Candida albicans, Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus and S. epidermidis.

Antidepressant activity

The oil extracted from Gardenia jasminoides by supercritical fluid extraction and geniposide showed antidepressant activity, which was evaluated by tail suspension test and forced swim test.  

Gardenia jasminoides showed an antidepressant effect in the tail suspension test at 24 hours.

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Genipin play an antidepressant role through regulating the glycolysis/gluconeogenesis TCA cycle and lipid metabolism of liver.

The mechanism of antidepressive in geniposide may be linked to the increase of serotonin level in the striatum and hippocampus of mice and monoamine oxidase B.

It is hoped that, in the near future, oil from G. jasminoides could be developed as a kind of therapeutic agent in fighting depression.

Anti-inflammatory effects

Gardenia jasminoides Ellis has been used to cure inflammation in Korean folk medicine for a long time.  Nowaday, research show that several components in gardenia such as geniposide, genipin, crocetin and crocin are risponsable for its antiinflammatory activity.

Geniposide, markedly inhibited the lipopolysaccharide-induced tumor necrosis production both in vitro as well as in vivo.

Also, geniposide acts as anti-asthmatic agent due to its anti inflammatory properties, which prevented eosinophilic pulmonary infiltration, attenuated the increases in interleukin, and reduced eotaxin and vascular cell adhesion molecule expression.  It substantially inhibited the lipopolysaccharide-induced alveolar wall changes, alveolar hemorrhage, and neutrophil infiltration in lung tissue.

The constituent genoposide, also facilitates to restructure the ligament tears by proliferating ligament fibroblasts and promoting the synthesis of collagen in case of ankle sprain.

Genipin, on the other hand, which possessed stronger anti-inflammatory activity than geniposide, exhibited anti-inflammatory effects via down regulation of chemokine ligand, chemokine receptor, and IFN-induced protein productions in lipopolysaccharide-induced acute systemic inflammation.

Gardenia Essential Oil

Anti-arthritis activity

Geniposide healed arthritis through different mechanism:

  • inhibiting the colonic inflammation damage in through decreasing the expression level of tumor necrosis factor-alpha, interleukin-1 and interleukin-6;
  • increasing the production of interleukin-10, and
  • restraining the expression of phospho-p38 related proteins in fibroblast-like synoviocyte proliferation.

Besides, geniposide relieved significantly paw swelling and arthritis index and exerted immunoregulatory effects by inducing cell immune tolerance and enhancing cell-mediated activities. Thus, geniposide in gardenia oil, has great potential for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. 

Antioxidant effect

In terms of free radical scavenging activities, aqueous extract of Gardenia jasminoides fruit exhibited higher antioxidant activity than that of its ethanolic extract. The antioxidant potential of methanolic extract of Gardenia jasminoides, contributed due to phenolics and flavonoids in leaves.

Genipin quenched effectively 1, 1-diphenyl-2-picryl-hydrazyl, a stable free radical, suggesting that genipin and crocetin act as a direct free radical scavenger.

In addition, gardenia glycoprotein proved as a preventive and therapeutic agent for the ulcerative colitis, neutrophil infiltration and colonic lipid peroxidation due to its scavenging properties.

On the other hand, a novel antioxidant water-soluble polysaccharide was isolated from Gardenia jasminoides Ellis, which also proved significant scavenging abilities.

Warnings and Precautions When Using Gardenia Essential Oil

Even though gardenia essential oil is normally considered safe, there are a few recommendations to keep in mind:

  • Avoid the use of gardenia oil if you are pregnant. However, in the third trimester, it can be useful to stimulate labor and milk production.
  • Do not use in children under 6 years old.
  • For topical application, is better (as with any other essential oil), perform a patch test to avoid unwanted effect such as itching, irritation or allergic reactions.

Gardenia Essential Oil

Where to Buy Gardenia Essential Oil?

Gardenia essential oil or gardenia absolute is one of the most precious oils in the world.  It is not an easy product to find, and is more likely that you have to resort specialized online stores to get a good quality gardenia oil.  

Usually, it is an expensive oil, since too many flowers are needed for a minimum yield. However, a single drop contains all its concentrated therapeutic properties, therefore you will need a minimum amount of gardenia oil to obtain its benefits.

On the other hand, if what you are looking for is just gardenia fragrance for making soaps or aromatic candles, for example, it is better to opt for an aromatic extract of gardenia, which is much more economical and suitable for your crafts.

Celestial – Gardenia Absolute Therapeutic Grade 15ml (eBay)

Tips for better performance and duration of your oils:

  • Store them in a dark glass bottle, never plastic, not even when blended with a carrier oil.
  • Keep them in cool, dark places, away from sources of heat and light.
  • Maintain the container that holds it tightly closed, since they are very volatile and also, their properties would be lost or modified.

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