Gardenia is a genus of flowering plants in the coffee family, Rubiaceae, native to the tropical and subtropical regions of Africa, southern Asia, Australasia and Oceania. The genus was named by Carl Linnaeus and John Ellis after Dr. Alexander Garden (1730-1791), a Scottish-born American naturalist.
They are evergreen shrubs and small trees growing to 1–15 metres (3.3–49.2 ft) tall. The leaves are opposite or in whorls of three or four, 5–50 centimetres (2.0–19.7 in) long and 3–25 centimetres (1.2–9.8 in) broad, dark green and glossy with a leathery texture. The flowersare solitary or in small clusters, white, or pale yellow, with a tubular-based corolla with 5-12 lobes (petals) from 5–12 centimetres (2.0–4.7 in) diameter. Flowering is from about mid-spring to mid-summer, and many species are strongly scented.
Gardenia plants are prized for the strong sweet scent of their flowers, which can be very large in size in some species.
Gardenia jasminoides (syn. G. grandiflora, G. Florida) is cultivated as a house plant. This species can be difficult to grow because it originated in warm humid tropical areas. It demands high humidity to thrive, and bright (not direct) light. It flourishes in acidic soils with good drainage and thrives on [68-74 F temperatures (20-23 C)] during the day and 60 F (15-16 C) in the evening. Potting soils developed especially for gardenias are available. G. jasminoides grows no larger than 18 inches in height and width when grown indoors. In climates where it can be grown outdoors, it can attain a height of 6 feet. If water touches the flowers, they will turn brown.
In China and Japan, Gardenia jasminoides is called zhīzi (栀子) and kuchinashi (梔), respectively. Its blossom is used as a yellow dye, used on fabric and food (including the Korean mung bean jelly called hwangpomuk). Its fruits are also used in traditional Chinese medicine for their clearing, calming, and cooling properties.
In France, gardenias are the flower traditionally worn by men as boutonnière when in evening dress. In The Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton suggests it was customary for upper-class men from New York City to wear a gardenia on their buttonhole during the Gilded Age.
Sigmund Freud remarked to the poet H.D. that gardenias were his favorite flower. It is the national flower of Pakistan. Several species occur on Hawaii, where gardenias are known as naʻu or nānū. Crocetin is a chemical compound usually obtained from Crocus sativus, which can also be obtained from the fruit of Gardenia jasminoides.
What is Gardenia Essential Oil?
Another essential oil fragrance that has for a long time been used in perfumery, the exotic, sweet scent of Gardenia has long been said to have aphrodisiac qualities. Gardenia flowers are sometimes used in bridal bouquets, and in many cultures are considered to have a “feminine” scent, however in some places they are traditionally worn as buttonhole flowers by men.
Gardenia essential oil is used in aromatherapy, and as a scent in lotions, candles and other products. As with Jasmine, Gardenia has a delicate scent that would be ruined by steam distillation; therefore the essential oil was traditionally produced by the labour-intensive process of enfleurage – and such oils (if you can find them) are still considered to be of high quality.
Gardenia essential oil is listed on aromatherapy websites as having a wide array of therapeutic qualities: It is considered to have calming, antidepressant/uplifting qualities, and be good for headaches or dizziness. A few drops of gardenia added to a bath are thought to be beneficial for insomnia.
Gardenia essential oil is considered useful in wound healing – in addition to being considered antibacterial, it has been reported haemostatic – able to assist stopping bleeding when applied (diluted).
Gardenia jasminoides has been listed by the USDA Agricultural Research Service phytochemical and ethnobotanical database as being helpful with pain, nose bleeds, fever, and influenza; in healing wounds and reducing swelling; and in treating mastitis, hepatitis and the hematuria that accompanies bladder infection.
Benefits of Gardenia Essential Oil
Gardenia Essential Oil is a major essential oil in aromatherapy. The aroma is so sweet and strong smelling, which can induce feelings of deep attraction by smell alone. Aromatherapy is one of the most widely practiced alternatives of healing systems today. Aromatherapy allows the many different types of aromatic compounds. These compounds aid to cure various ailments. Gardenia Essential Oil is a concentrated, hydrophobic liquid that is the main ingredient for the more popular aroma compounds used in aromatherapy.
- Treating infections
- Blood clotting
- Reducing swelling
- Menopausal imbalances
- Cooling the blood
- Bladder infections
- Reducing tumors
- Interstitial Cystitis
- Sinus Infection
- Nervous tension
- Skin disorders
One also often sees Gardenia Absolute; meaning that the oil was extracted by solvent extraction (typically hexane or cyclohexane). Absolutes were originally intended for use in perfumery, however, they are increasingly being used in aromatherapy despite concerns over residues of chemical solvents, and even over the addition of synthetic ingredients.
As different species of Gardenia are sometimes used in the derivation of the essential oil, it is to be expected that the fragrance may vary somewhat. Gardenia jasminoides, Gardenia grandiflora, Gardenia taitensis or other Gardenia varieties may be observed in Gardenia essential oil on the marketplace.
Like many of the other fragrant essential oils made from flowers, the price of the genuine essential oil is high, and so synthetic imitations and adulterations abound. It’s said that true Gardenia, even as an absolute, is hard to find – although I have seen Gardenia for sale online which is stated to have been extracted via enfleurage using palm oil and cane sugar alcohol. It’s important to ascertain whether a Gardenia essential oil is genuine, especially if it is intended for use in aromatherapy – and many products that claim to be Gardenia or Gardenia-scented, are not suitable for aromatherapy due to either adulteration or chemical solvent extraction.
As with other essential oils, the use of certified organic products is considered good practice, as pesticide residues have been known to taint non-organic essential oils. This has been said to be a serious safety issue although many of the effects remain unknown and difficult to ascertain.
Uses of Gardenia Essential Oil
- Chinese herbal medicines commonly use Gardenia essential oil to treat infections, especially bladder infections; abscesses; jaundice; and blood in the urine, sputum, or stool.
- Candles are a popular use for Gardenia Essential Oil for its wonderful fragrance. The strong aroma is present whether the candle is lit or not. Add a few drops on your less scented candles for an added aroma.
- Potpourri is another wonderful use for Gardenia Essential Oil. The dried flowers, pine cones, and other dry components absorb the flowery scent of the Gardenia. You can keep refreshing your potpourri with a few drops as needed.
- For that relaxing bath and shower Gardenia Essential Oil added to our soap makes your bath so much more enjoyable.
- Gardenia Essential Oil can be added to perfumes for a strong flowery aroma.
- The best ways to utilize your Gardenia Essential Oil iclude:
- Inhalation – Gardenia Essential Oil can be inhaled from hot compress, hot water (steam), or diffuser. The recommended dose is ten drops for respiratory, headaches, and sinus afflictions.
- Baths – regarding baths and essential oils, it is best to mix them with salts or an emulsifier to aid in the dispersing of the oil. Usually five to ten drops of Gardenia Essential Oil mixed with ½ to one cup of salt or emulsifier. These baths are great for skin problems, respiratory symptoms, circulatory issues, nervous tension, stress, insomnia, muscular pain, and menstrual pain as well.
- Compress – Take a soft cloth and soak it in this solution of ten drops of Gardenia Essential Oil and four ounces of hot water. Apple the compress to the affected area for a few minutes, then soak the cloth and apply again. The compress swill help muscle aches, bruises, wounds, skin problems, and dysmenorrhea.
- Facial Steam – Get a towel and heat water in a pot. Add five drops of Gardenia Essential Oil into the hot water. Place the towel over your head and let the steam hit your face and inhale. This method is especially productive for opening headaches, sinuses and facial skin health.
- Massage – For a stress relieving healthy massage, add a few drops of Gardenia Essential Oil to a moisturizing lotion. If the lotion tends to be too cold try rubbing your hands together to generate heat prior to putting the lotion in your hands for the massage.
- Direct Palm Inhalation –Take one to two drops of Gardenia Essential Oil in your palm and rub gently together, then inhale deeply. This is a quick and easy method when needed.
Side Effects of Gardenia Essential Oil
Gardenia essential oil does not seem to produce any side effects, but like many essential oils, it is not recommended for use with pregnant women or children. Some essential oils may cause irritation or allergic reactions in people with sensitive skin so it is wise to do a patch test before using regularly.
Scientific Studies and Research of Gardenia Essential Oil
Turning to the world of science and medicine, we find that Gardenia has been the subject of some scientific investigation – and a search of Pubmed yielded 363 results from medical papers that included Gardenia.
Gardenia Essential Oil as sedative and anti-seizure
Gardenia shows some interesting qualities and medical potential. A 2008 study from the Department of Pharmacology at Yan’an University, China, showed that Gardenia Essential Oil produced sedative, hypnotic and antiseizure effects in mice, and that these effects were increased by combining the oil with jujube (Zizyphus zizyphus) seed oil.
Gardenia Essential Oil as anti-inflammatory
Koo, Lim, Jung, and Park (2006) had investigated the anti-inflammatory activities of geniposide and genipin, the two main constituents of gardenia with promising anti-inflammatory action in carrageenan-induced rat paw edema. The two were identified and obtained from the ethanolic extract of gardenia (Gardenia jasminoides) fruits. Gardenia jasminoides is an evergreen flowering species recognized in Chinese medicine as a treatment for hepatic and inflammatory diseases. In this study, the ethanolic extract of gardenia fruits dose-dependently inhibited acetic acid–induced vascular permeability. Both geniposide and genipin inhibited, on the other hand, the production of exudate and nitric oxide in the rat air pouch edema model, although it was concretely established that genipin has stronger anti-inflammatory activity than geniposide. Because of the two’s outstanding anti-inflammatory effect, geniposide and genipin may be considered as potential candidates in the treatment of several diseases related to causes of inflammation, such as jaundice, headache, edema, fever, and hepatic disorders.
Gardenia Essential Oil vs. Interstitial Cystitis
Gardenia, along with herbs Cornus, Curculigo, rhubarb, Psoralea, and Rehmannia, in tea given twice a day for 6 days a week for 3 months and then once a day was explored in a pilot study. Of the 25 patients with interstitial cystitis who completed the study, 82% had reported a significant decrease in bladder and pelvic pain after three months, and 80% had decreased frequency. Such an herbal tea can be used to treat interstitial cystitis in patients who are referred for herbal therapy as a treatment alternative.
Gardenia Essential Oil as Antibacterial
Gardenia essential oil possesses promising bactericidal activity, especially against Campylobacter jejuni and Listeria monocytogenes. The bactericidal activity (BA50) values of gardenia essential oil against C. jejuni and L. monocytogenes were reported to be ranging from 0.003 to 0.009 and from 0.057 to 0.092, respectively.
Gardenia Essential Oil as Antioxidant
A number of research studies focus their investigations on antioxidants, chemicals that can inhibit the formation of, or at least neutralize, reactive molecules such as reactive oxygen species (ROS) and reactive nitrogen species (RNS). An excess or overaccumulation of such reactive molecules results in oxidative stress and, by extension, several diseases associated with it. In connection with this, the study of Kalim, Bhattacharyya, Banerjee, and Chattopadhyay (2010) evidenced the antioxidant activity of Gardenia gummifera, one of the plants routinely employed in the Unani system of medicine. Free radical scavenging is a defensive mechanism wherein a vitamin, mineral, or enzyme eliminates the free radicals in the body before they can cause significant cell damage.
A variety of free radical scavengers have been identified and screened in gardenia fruit extracts. Of these free radical scavengers in gardenia fruit extract, caffeoylquinic acids, dicaffeoylquinic acids, and 4-sinapoyl-5-caffeoylquinic acid were recognized as dominant, with 3,5-dicaffeoylquinic acid being the most potent antioxidant with a Trolox equivalent antioxidant capacity (TEAC) value of 1.1 mM. Furthermore, geniposide from the fruits of G. jasminoides has also been shown to enhance the glutathione content in rat livers and to inhibit P450 3A monooxygenase. Glutathione is an important immune system peptide and antioxidant that aids in determining the modulation of immune response, including cytokine production. It helps prevent the damage induced by ROS such as free radicals and peroxides to cellular components.
Chemistry of Gardenia Essential Oil
Gardenia essential oil contains a good amount of geniposide and genipin, its chief components.  It also contains crocin, an antioxidant that suppresses the formation of peroxidized lipids and the oxidative stress in neurons. Novel terpenoids, namely, gardenate A; 2-hydroxyethyl gardenamide A; (1R,7R,8S,10R)-7,8, 11-trihydroxyguai-4-en-3-one 8-O-beta-D-glucopyranoside; and jasminoside F, can also be isolated from gardenia.
Blending for Gardenia Essential Oil
How to Make Gardenia Essential Oil
- Get your freshly harvested gardenia fragrance flowers and remove any damaged parts such as withered petals and other brown and green parts of it. Make sure you have chosen gardenia flowers that are either at the peak of blooming or just before that.
- With a clean spatula, make an even 1/8 to 1/4inch layer of vegetable fat on your glass plate. Over this layer of fat, spread one layer of the petals you picked earlier.
- With a clean plastic wrap, cover this plate and ensure that it is airtight. Have this stored in a cool, dark, and dry place for a couple of days.
- Your gardenia petals will normally turn into a bright yellow color after around two days. When it does, you will need to carefully remove the plastic wrap and slowly get the gardenia petals.
- Then scrape off the fat from the plate and put them in clean jars. To keep the fat from sticking altogether in the jar, you may alternate putting them with vodka or grain alcohol. Be sure however that your fat will be completely covered in alcohol at the end of this process.
- Put the lid on the jar and have it sealed airtight. Have this stored in a cool, dark, and dry place for as long as 4 months if refrigerated or just around 3 months if not refrigerated. Shake the jar every few days.
- When you are satisfied that the gardenia scent has fully saturated the liquid, you can strait it with the use of coffee filter or cheesecloth. Pour the content into airtight bottles and they will be ready for use.