Gardenia (Zhi Zi)

Botanical Name: Gardenia jasminoides, G. florida

Gardenia fruit, roots, leaves, seeds, and blossoms can all be used medicinally. The dried fruit and fresh blossoms and leaves make an excellent tea used to calm nerves, treat diabetes, and help you fall asleep at night. The tea is also used to treat Lung and Digestive issues in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine).

Watch a short video, from Ann Christensen, Founder and Creator of White Rabbit Institute of Healing™ – 4 Ways To Use Gardenia Medicinally.

Below is an overview of gardenia, combining the best of Western Science, Oriental Medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Shamanism, Folklore, and a wide range of healing modalities. Gain a balanced and thorough understanding of the healing properties of gardenia.

How to take FULL advantage of Gardenia's healing powers...

JOIN ME in an exploration of the healing herb, Gardenia (Zhi Zi). Explore the benefits and applications of gardenia, from Eastern and Western perspectives, and so much more!


Western Name: Gardenia

Also Known As: Cape Jasmine Fruit

Organs/Systems: Stomach, Heart, Liver

Key Actions: Laxative, Anti-inflammatory, Alterative, Antibacterial, Antifungal, Febrifuge, Hypertensive, Refrigerant, Analgesic, Antispasmodic, Diuretic, Antiseptic, Detoxicant, Aromatic

Medicinal Uses: 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 (a.k.a. San Jiao)

Key Actions: Clears Heat, Drains Fire, Calms Shen (Spirit), Drains Damp Heat, Cools Blood, Reduces Toxins, Stops Bleeding, Reduces Swelling, Moves Blood

Medicinal Uses: fever, insomnia, irritability, delirium, chest constriction, obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, liver disease, anxiety, depression, muscle aches, sprains, colds and flu, digestive disorders, acid reflux, dysuria, jaundice, hepatitis, oozing eyes, swollen painful sinuses, nose bleeds, vomiting blood, blood in the urine or stools, epistaxis, 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 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, Husk (Fruit without the Seed), Root, Leaf, Seed, Flower​

Flavors/Temps: Very Bitter, Cold, Dry

Caution: Considered safe. Not recommended if you are already suffering from diarrhea.

Key Constituents: Iridoid glycosides (mainly Geniposide and Gardenoside), Chlorogenic acid, Ursolic acid, Acrocetin, Flavonoids (including Crocin, Chlorogenic, and Gardenin), Volatile oils (including linalool and terpineol), Tannins

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 can 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.

There are more than 250 different types of gardenia plants. Gardenia jasminoides and G. florida can be used interchangeably for their medicinal qualities. Gardenia essential oil is made from Gardenia jasminoides.

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) are used to clear Heat from the Lung and the surface of the Body.

Gardenia Seeds (Zhi Zi Ren) are used to clear internal Heat and ease the Heart.

A study published in 2014 focused on the compound geniposide, an active ingredient in gardenia, as being effective for inhibiting body weight gain as well as improving lipid levels, rebalancing insulin levels, and improving glucose intolerance, suggesting that gardenia may help treat obesity.

Another study from the Chinese Journal of Natural Medicine found that gardenia extract helped with memory improvement. Two of gardenia’s active compounds geniposide and gardenoside, seem to suppress inflammation associated with memory deficits.

Compounds found in gardenia, including ursolic acid and genipin, have been found to have acid-neutralizing properties. They also have antigastric and antioxidant properties that further support digestive health. Research performed in Korea and published in Food and Chemical Toxicology indicated that these compounds can help treat acid reflux, ulcers, and infections caused by H. pylori activity.

Gardenia is also effectively used to help prevent cold and flu infections. In TCM it is known for Clearing Heat and especially Damp Heat conditions, often associated with Lung and Digestive infections. In the West, it is recognized for important antimicrobial properties that further support the use of gardenia as an important herb for countering infectious Lung and Digestive conditions.

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

Gardenia essential oil is used to fight infections and tumors. Its powerful scent can promote relaxation and is often used in lotions, perfumes, and other topical applications.

Gardenia may also help lower cholesterol, reduce insulin resistance and glucose intolerance, as well as prevent liver disease.

The gardenia’s white flowers are a symbol of purity, innocence, and clarity. They are sacred 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.

A yellow-red dye has been extracted from the pulp of the fruit that is used in textiles and sweets.

Gardenia changes scent throughout the day, becoming more fragrant during the night as an evolutionary measure to attract nocturnal pollinators.

Gardenia flowers can be eaten raw, pickled, or preserved in honey. In China, the petals are popularly used in tea for their aroma and medicinal properties.

Did you know?

Did you know?

Gardenia is named after the eighteenth-century Scottish-born American physician, Alexander Garden.


Treat Injuries and Traumas

Mixed with egg whites 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.

Take FULL advantage of Gardenia (Zhi Zi)!

Connecting Eastern and Western perspectives on HOW and WHY this herb works. Find out how to safely and effectively use this healing herb for treating conditions and for your Body, Mind, and Spirit. Find True Health. Explore uses, safety information, benefits, history, recipes, gardening tips, essential oil information, if it applies, and much, much more in this online course.

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ATTENTION: All material provided on this website is for informational or educational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for the advice of your healthcare professional or physician. Redistribution permitted with attribution. Be Healthy. Be Happy. Be Whole. Be Free.

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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