Gardenia (Gardenia jasminoides, Gardenia Enfleurage; Gardenia Essential Oil; Gardenia Absolute, Gardenia Augusta,Gardenia Florida, Gardenia Grandiflora)
| Gardenia is primarily valued for its highly scented blossoms, although gardenia flowers have culinary and medicinal uses as herbs. Gardenia fruits contain yellow pigments and are used as a spice and substitute for saffron. This herb is nutritious, being a source of antioxidants. |
Although gardenia is principally known as a pot plant and for its flowers, which are often included in bridal bouquets and used as a perfume for cosmetics, gardenia is also considered as an herb because both the flowers and fruits produced by Gardenia are edible and have culinary, medicinal uses.
The attractive gardenia plant is one of over 200 genera of evergreen shrubs in the Rubiaceae botanical family, which numbers over 10,000 species. Possibly its most famous relative being Coffea arabica, better known as coffee.
Gardenia is a shrub that can grow to a height of 10 feet and has uneven, oval shaped leaves; 2-4 inches long. Gardenia flowers appear in summertime and are white with a waxy appearance and a sweet, highly scented, captivating aroma. Some cultivars produce double flowers, for example Fortuniana and Veitchiana or Veitchii. By mid to late summer gardenia flowers cease to blossom and small yellow oblong, shaped fruits appear.
Gardenia originates from the warm and tropical regions of Asia and does not tolerate sudden changes in temperature or cold drafts, although there are gardenia cultivars that are more cold-hardy, such as Summer Snow and Shooting Star, which grow in temperate climates, if protected from frost.
Dr. Alexander Garden (1730-1791) must be one of the few people privileged enough to have had a plant genus (Gardenia) named after him by Linnaeus. The Scottish born physician who lived and worked in South Carolina from 1752 had a passion for flora and fauna. In his spare time Garden collected plant specimens which he sent to the Swedish botanist and naturalist Carl Linnaeus. In 1754 gardenia plants were first introduced to Britain and were mistakenly classified as related to the Jasminum species, which is native to South Africa and not Asia. This confusion in taxonomy led to a popular alternative name for the herb, Cape Jasmine and its former botanical name, Gardenia jasminoides.
Medicinal Uses: The first documented use of gardenia in Chinese herbology, or herbal medicine, was from the Han dynasty ( AD25-AD220). Gardenia leaves, flowers and fruits were included in several canon or formulas, which are mostly remedies for the common cold. In Asia, gardenia is known as the 'happiness herb' because it is said to detoxify the liver, thereby releasing negative emotions. This may have led to the association between gardenia and love, healing and spiritually.
In China, gardenia flowers are used to flavor herbal teas, often in combination with other herbs and flowers such as chrysanthemums. Gardenia infused teas are known to detoxify the blood, relieve congestion and help lower LDL, or bad, cholesterol. Externally, gardenia is used for skin inflammation, sprains and has blood staunching properties. It is still used in the traditional medicine of Vietnam, internally as a hemostatic agent.
Some of the curative effects of gardenia are no doubt the result of the many phytochemicals found in the color pigments of gardenia fruits and flowers. Indeed, gardenia fruits contain carotenoids including crocin and crocetin, also found in the Crocus species of plant, of which saffron is a member. Aside from their ability to add a subtle yellow color to foods, the carotenoids have numerous health benefits.
•Both crocin and crocetin, of which crocetin is a central component of, are antioxidants or free radical scavengers, and may, according to in vitro studies, reduce or inhibit the grow of cancer.
•A 2009 study at the Military Medical Univercity in Shanghai, China on Crocus satvia (saffron) found that the carotenoid crocin has antidepressant properties and merits further investigation as a possible plant material for curing depression.
•In another study by the Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, in 2007, extract of crocin from saffron was given to male lab rats and their sexual activity was monitored. Results suggest that crocin is a natural aphrodisiac, at least for rodents.
•Traditionally used as a treatment for diabetes in Chinese herbal medicine, gardenia extract was found to contain a chemical called genipin. Researchers at Harvard Medical School found that genipin inhibits the functions of an enzyme which increases the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Culinary Uses: Gardenia flowers can be added to salads, used as garnish, and the fruits can be eaten out of hand. However, this herb is primarily valued for its natural yellow coloring, from its fruit, used in the food industry as a less expensive substitute for the spice, Saffron.
The material from dried Gardenia flower petals is commonly used in Chinese herbal medicine. Its Chinese name is zhi zi. The traditional medicinal actions attributed to gardenia include calming irritability; cooling blood and clearing away heat (a yin/yang imbalance often characterized by deficient yin); reducing swelling; and moving stagnant blood that has congealed in one place, usually following trauma. Gardenia is considered to be very effective as a hemostatic agent, which means that it stops bleeding; and also effective in treating injuries to the muscles, joints, and tendons. Gardenia is commonly used in Chinese herbal formulas to treat infections, particularly bladder infections; abscesses; jaundice; and blood in the urine, sputum, or stool. Because of its perceived ability to ease agitation or irritability, it is also used in formulas to treat anxiety or insomnia. It is also helpful in correcting menopausal imbalances reflected in insomnia and depression, nervous tension, headache, and dizziness.
It is important to remember that Chinese herbal medicine is based upon individual prescriptions developed for each patient and their unique symptoms. Chinese herbs should not be taken, either individually or in formulas, unless a practitioner of Chinese herbal medicine is first consulted.
The United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service phytochemical and ethnobotanical database lists Gardenia jasminoides as having specific medicinal properties. This gardenia has been found to be helpful in the treatment of pain, nose bleeds, fever, and influenza; in healing wounds and reducing swelling; and in treating mastitis, hepatitis and the hematuria that accompanies bladder infection.
Gardenia essential oil / Gardenia absolute.
Gardenia oil is one of the most precious oils in the world and known for its heavenly aroma and fragrance. During the extraction process, fresh, fully opened flowers are plucked from the Gardenia plant and carefully laid on trays covered with a layer of palm oil. The essential oils from the flower petals slowly migrate to the palm oil and the process is repeated until the palm oil is completely saturated with the oil of the Gardenia. Then the Gardenia oil is separated from the palm oil by alcohol which then evaporated leaving only the pure Gardenia oil, i.e., Gardenia Essential Oil / Gardenia Absolute. This method is called enfleurage.
Gardenia oil cannot be distilled like most essential oils due to the delicate nature of the flowers. Enfleurage was the traditional method of extraction used in the 18th and 19th centuries and into the early 20th century but solvent extraction using hexane has virtually replaced enfleurage.
Solvent extracted Gardenia oil, called an "absolute", and is used extensively by the perfume industry.
High Altitude Organics™ Gardenia Absolute is extracted by enflaurage by ancient method using only organic palm oil & organic cane sugar alcohol to extract the essential oils.
Either method (enfleurage or solvent extraction) is time consuming and oil yields are quite small for the amount of materials used. Now, the most commonly found Gardenia used by the perfume industry is entirely synthetic and has no healing properties whatsoever. Natural gardenia perfume is often enjoyed as a single-flower oil since the rich, warm, heady floral aroma produced from the flowers is considered osmically balanced (like Carnation and Lavender), which means that their floral compounds are perfectly balanced, containing a top, middle, and base note. The entire process of extracting the gardenia oil it done by hand using no heat and no harsh chemical solvents. Pure local organic palm oil is used to absorb the aromatic oils from the gardenia flower petals and once the palm oil is completely saturated with the essence of the gardenia flower then the palm oil is separated from the Gardenia oil by cane sugar alcohol which is then evaporated to leave only the Gardenia oil. The process for producing the Gardenia Absolute by Enfleurage is quite labor intensive and requires many pounds of gardenia flower petals per ml of oil but the results are astounding. If you close your eyes and sniff the aroma of the oil, it cannot be differentiated from the actual gardenia flower.
Main Natural Constituents: Benzyl acetate with phenyl acetate, linalol, linalyl acetate, terpineol, methyl anthranilate, linalool, benzyl cinnamate, geraniol. NOTE: These are completely natural components - nothing added or removed.
Uses of Gardenia Absolute:
In Chinese herbal medicine this oil is valued for its antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and calming properties, for treating infections, insomnia and depression.
It works well as a signature fragrance on its own for top of the range perfumes e.g. pulse point perfumes, serums, creams and face oils. Pulse point perfumes are usually sold in mini roller ball containers, making them easy to apply to pulse points such as inside the wrist, behind the ears, at the temples, behind the knees, the back of the neck, the cleavage area, between the toes, ankles, and thighs. To make a pulse point perfume, blend 2ml of the absolute with 8ml alcohol or vegetable oil and put in a 10ml glass mini roll-on ball bottles - makes a great luxury gift, or for your own handbag!
Skin Care Benefits of Gargenia Absolute:
The stimulating properties of Gardenia's stem cells, along with considerable biological properties can be effectively used in anti-aging products that positively affect the skin’s collagen system.
Collagen is the main structural support of the cells, giving support and firmness to the skin. It undergoes continuous turnover and new collagen is produced and recycled throughout our lives.
As aging occurs, collagen degradation tends to speed up causing weakening and wrinkling of the skin. Furthermore, a number of external factors such as UV exposure, smoking, chlorinated water, free radicals and inflammation contribute to collagen breakdown by activating enzymes responsible for the degradation of the main components of the extracellular matrix, an important part of our connective tissues that support firmness. The result is a loss of elasticity and tone and other classic signs of aging.
Stimulation of new collagen synthesis
Reduce collagen degradation from environmental stress (UV skin damage, aging, etc.)
Inhibiting collagenase synthesis (enzymes that break the peptide bonds in collagen)
Since Gardenia Jasminoides stem cells stimulate the synthesis of new collagen, they restore its unavoidable loss associated with aging while strongly inhibiting collagenase. This process limits collagen degradation, prevents skin damage and loss of firmness.
Blends well with: Cinnamon leaf, Clove bud, Jasmine, Lemon, Lime, Neroli, Rose, Sweet Orange, Tuberose, Ylang Ylang, spice oil, citrus oils.
•Do not take essential oils internally.
•Do not apply to eyes, sensitive areas or mucous membranes.
•Do not apply undiluted to skin (for directions on proper dilution refer to an aromatherapy text).
•Pregnant women, nursing mothers and children should not use essential oils without first consulting an appropriately trained healthcare practitioner.
Disclaimer: The information presented
herein is intended for educational purposes only. These statements have not
been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or
prevent disease. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements,
it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.