Gardenia (Zhi Zi)Gardenia (Zhi Zi)

Botanical Name: Gardenia jasminoides, G. florida

Gardenias are used to treat all forms of febrile diseases, hot reckless blood conditions, damp-heat jaundice, and conditions of damp-heat urinary obstruction. Gardenias are beautiful flowers grown the world over for their beauty and wonderful sweet scent. They can be used to calm nerves and ease stress.

Below is an overview of Gardenia (Zhi Zi), combining and interpreting the best of Western Science, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Shamanism, Folklore and more. Gain a balanced and thorough understanding of the healing properties of Gardenia (Zhi Zi).

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Western Name: Gardenia

Also Known As: Cape Jasmine Fruit

Organs/Systems: Stomach, Heart, Liver

Key Western Actions & Medicinal Uses: Laxative, Anti-inflammatory, Alterative, Antibacterial, Antifungal, Febrifuge, Hypertensive, Refrigerant. Irritability, restlessness, tight chest, insomnia, nose bleeds, hematemesis, blood in the urine, jaundice, urinary difficulties, rheumatism, swollen injuries, sprains, cystitis, headaches, hepatitis, hypertension, rectal bleeding.


Pin Yin: Zhi Zi

Also Known As: Shan Zhi Zi

Meridians: Heart, Lung, Triple Warmer (San Jiao)

Key TCM Actions & Medicinal Uses: Clears Heat/Drains Fire/Calms the Spirit (Shen): fever, insomnia, irritability, delirium, chest constriction. Drains Damp-Heat: dyseria, jaundice, hepatitis, oozing eyes, swollen painful sinuses. Cools Blood/Reduces Toxins/Stops Bleeding: nose bleeds, vomiting blood, blood in the urine or stools, epistaxis. Reduces Swelling/Moves Blood: used to treat injuries and traumas.

Basic Habitat/Botany:

Gardenia is a perennial shrub that is a member of the coffee family, Rubiaceae. Today there are over 200 different species, mostly hybrids.  The leaves are oval in shape and very shiny. The flowers vary in color from pale yellow with purple markings to creamy white with a heavy sweet scent, similar to green apples.  The blossoms have a wax-like appearance and typically flower in the winter or early spring, with the large yellowish-red fruit or berry emerging after the blossoms die away.

Indigenous to Southern China and Japan, now widely cultivated all over the world.

Parts Most Frequently Used: Fruit, Roots, Leaves, Seeds

Flavors/Temps: Very Bitter, Cold, Dry

Caution: Not recommended if already suffering from diarrhea.

History/Folklore: In China, gardenias are a key herb for dispelling Dampness and Heat. It is a gentle herb that slowly directs heat downwards, promoting urination, and in this way pulling heat out of the heart and lungs. As the herb moves through the Triple Warmer (San Jiao) meridians it is able to clear Heat and Dampness from the top, middle and lower parts of the body. The Chinese also describe it as treating both ends of the Liver’s Channels, so oozing eyes, bloating, nausea, and urinary dysfunction can all be treated with gardenia.

Most herbalists use the whole dried fruit which is crushed before using. Other preparations include:

  • Raw Gardenia (Sheng Zhi Zi) which is used to drain Fire.
  • Stir-fried Gardenia (Chao Zhi Zi) or Charred Gardenia (Zhi Zi Tan) which is used to stop bleeding and help reduce the plant’s very cold properties that might cause vomiting.
  • Gardenia Husks (this is the fruit without the seeds, called Zhi Zi Yi in Chinese) is used to clear Heat from the lung and the surface of the body and,
  • Gardenia Seeds (Zhi Zi Ren) are used to clear internal Heat and ease the heart.

Gardenia jasminoides and G. florida can be used interchangeably for their medicinal qualities.

Both saffron and gardenia contain the yellow pigment crocin and are used as yellow food colorants.

The gardenia’s white flowers are a symbol of purity, innocence and clarity. They are scared to Morpheus, the Greek god of dreams for their wonderful scent which was thought to transport a person to the heavenly land of Elysium where joy could be found. In Victorian England the English viewed the flower as a symbol of a new and promising friendship and in France men wore a gardenia to express their sincere wishes to find a mate. Magically, it is known for its ability to clear and calm the mind.

Gardenias can also deter certain insects from your garden, though they are difficult plants to cultivate outdoors and are now mostly cultivated in greenhouses.

Key Constituents:

Iridoid glycosides (mainly Geniposide and Gardenoside), Chlorogenic acid, Ursolic acid, Acrocetin, Flavonoids (including Crocin, Chlorogenin, and Gardenin), Volatile oil, Tannins.

Did you know?

Named after Alexander Garden

The flower was named after the eighteenth-century Scottish born American physician, Alexander Garden.


Treat Injuries and Traumas

Mixed with eggs white and vinegar, gardenia can be applied topically to treat injuries and traumas.

Fun fact!

Essential Oil Warning

The essential oil made from gardenia is not to be used internally.


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ATENCIÓN: Todo el material proporcionado en este sitio web es sólo con fines informativos o educativos. No es sustituto del consejo de su profesional de la salud o médico. Esté sano. Sea feliz. Siéntase completo. Sea libre.

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