Gardenia (Gardenia jasminoides)

While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.

Related Terms

  • Cape jasmine, chlorogenic acid, crocetin, crocin, crocin-1, crocin-2, crocin-3, dikamali (India), forest gardenia, fructus Gardeniae, Gardenia actinocarpa, Gardenia aqualla, Gardenia aubryi, Gardenia augusta, gardenia blue, Gardenia brighamii, Gardenia buffalina, Gardenia carinata, Gardenia cornuta, Gardenia erubescens, Gardenia flava, Gardenia fortune, Gardenia fructus, Gardenia gummifera, Gardenia imperialis, Gardenia jasminoides, Gardenia jovis-tonantis, Gardenia latifolia, Gardenia lutea, Gardenia manii, Gardenia resinifera, Gardenia resiniflua, Gardenia saxatilis, Gardenia sootepensis, Gardenia taitensis, Gardenia ternifolia, Gardenia thailandica, Gardenia volkensii, gardenia yellow, genipin, geniposide, geniposidic acid, gentiobioside, giginya, iridoid glycoside, kuchinashi (Japanese), na’u (Hawaiian), Oahu gardenia, Rubiaceae, sokujikoh (Japanese), Tahitian gardenia, ursolic acid, zhi zi (Chinese).

  • Combination product examples: Inchinko-to (Artemisia capillaris spike, gardenia fruit, and rhubarb rhizome); Long-dan-tan (gardenia fruit, Gentiana root, Scutellaria root, Alisma rhizome, and Bupleurum root); Oren-gedoku-to (OGT, Scutellaria baicalensis, Coptis japonica, Gardenia jasminoides, and Phellodendron amurense); sasim (gardenia and six herbs); Unmadnashak ghrita (Ferula narthex (6g), Gardenia gummifera (6g), Elettaria cardamom (6g), Bacopa monnieri (6g), and cow’s ghee (clarified butter fat, 76g)); Yin-chen-hao-tang (Artemisia capillaris Thunb. (Compositae), Gardenia jasminoides Ellis (Rubiaceae), Rheum officinale Baill. (Polygonaceae)); Yin Zhi Huang (artemisia, gardenia, rheum, and Scutellaria baicalensis).

Background

  • The gardenia family (Rubiaceae) contains 10,200 species. The most commonly used species in medicine is Gardenia jasminoides (Cape jasmine).

  • Gardenia has been used in Asian traditional medicine for centuries. It is believed to have sedative, laxative, and fever-reducing effects, and it has also been used to treat bacterial infections, diabetes, liver disease, gallbladder disease, and some skin disorders. However, more human clinical trials are needed to confirm these effects.

Scientific Evidence

Uses

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.

No available studies qualify for inclusion in the evidence table.

*Key to grades:

Tradition

The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious and should be evaluated by a qualified health care professional.

  • Analgesic (pain relief), antibacterial, antihypertensive (reduces blood pressure), anti-inflammatory, antimalarial, antimicrobial, antioxidant, antispasmodic (treats muscle spasms), antiviral, anxiety, asthma, astringent (tightens skin or muscles), atherosclerosis (clogged arteries), bleeding, burns, cancer, cardiovascular disease (heart disease), choleretic (bile flow stimulant), constipation, delirium, depression, diabetes, diarrhea, digestive disorders, dyspepsia (indigestion), expectorant (thins mucus), fever, gallbladder disorders, gallstones, headache, hepatic diseases (liver diseases), hepatic fibrosis (liver disease), hepatitis, hepatoprotectant (liver health), hypertension (high blood pressure), immunomodulator (affects immune system), influenza (flu), insect bites, jaundice, larvicidal (antilarva), laxative, mastitis (breast infection), neonatal jaundice (childhood jaundice), nosebleed, palpitations (irregular heartbeat), pancreatitis (inflamed pancreas), sedative, smallpox, snakebites, sores, ulcerative colitis (bowel disease), vitiligo (skin coloring disorder), wound healing.

Dosing

The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.

Adults (18 years and older)

  • To treat stomach disease, 3-12 grams of gardenia fruit has been taken by mouth daily.

  • To treat vitiligo (skin pigmentation disorder), ground gardenia fruit has been applied to the skin several times daily.

Children (under 18 years old)

  • There is no proven safe or effective dose for gardenia in children.

Safety

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

Allergies

  • Avoid in people who are allergic or sensitive to gardenia, its parts, or any member of the Rubiaceae family. Exposure to gardenia may result in skin reactions.

Side Effects and Warnings

  • Gardenia is considered safe in doses of 3-12 grams taken by mouth daily or when applied to the skin.

  • Gardenia may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised in people with diabetes or hypoglycemia, and in those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may need to be monitored by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, and medication adjustments may be necessary.

  • Drowsiness or sedation may occur. Use caution if driving or operating heavy machinery.

  • Use cautiously in people who have autoimmune disorders or diarrhea.

  • Use cautiously in people who are taking immunosuppressants.

  • Gardenia may cause diarrhea and skin reactions.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

  • There is currently a lack of scientific evidence on the use of gardenia during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

Interactions

Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

Interactions with Drugs

  • Gardenia may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using medications that may also lower blood sugar. People taking insulin or drugs for diabetes by mouth should be monitored closely by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist. Medication adjustments may be necessary.

  • Gardenia may increase the amount of drowsiness caused by some drugs. Examples include benzodiazepines such as lorazepam (Ativan®) or diazepam (Valium®), barbiturates such as phenobarbital, narcotics such as codeine, some antidepressants, and alcohol. Caution is advised while driving or operating machinery.

  • Gardenia may also interact with antibiotics, anticancer agents, antifungal agents, anti-inflammatory agents, antimalarial agents, antiretroviral agents, antiviral agents, cholesterol-lowering agents, immunosuppressants, and laxatives.

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

  • Gardenia may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using herbs or supplements that may also lower blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may require monitoring, and doses may need adjustment.

  • Gardenia may increase the amount of drowsiness caused by some herbs or supplements.

  • Gardenia may also interact with antibacterials, anticancer herbs and supplements, antifungals, anti-inflammatories, antioxidants, antiparasitic herbs and supplements, antiviral herbs and supplements, cholesterol-lowering herbs and supplements, herbs and supplements that may affect the immune system, and laxatives.

Author Information

  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).

References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

  1. Achliya GS, Wadodkar SG, and Dorle AK. Evaluation of sedative and anticonvulsant activities of Unmadnashak Ghrita. J Ethnopharmacol. 2004;94(1):77-83. View Abstract
  2. Chou CC, Pan SL, Teng CM, et al. Pharmacological evaluation of several major ingredients of Chinese herbal medicines in human hepatoma Hep3B cells. Eur.J Pharm Sci 2003;19(5):403-412. View Abstract
  3. He, J. and Bai, J. Y. Investigation on clinical curative effect of oral YIN-ZHI-HUANG preparation (Herba Artemisiae Scopariae, Fructus Gardeniae, etc.) for icterus hepatitis. Chinese Traditional Chinese Medicine 1995;17(7):23-24.
  4. Kim Y, So HS, Youn MJ, et.al. Anti-inflammatory effect of Sasim extracts in PHA-stimulated THP-1 and peripheral blood mononuclear cells from cerebral infarction patients. Journal of Ethnopharmacology (Ireland) 2007;112:32-39.
  5. Lan WJ, Wang HY, Lan W, et al. Geniposide enhances melanogenesis by stem cell factor/c-Kit signalling in norepinephrine-exposed normal human epidermal melanocyte. Basic Clin Pharmacol Toxicol. 2008;103(1):88-93. View Abstract
  6. Lee TY, Chang HH, Chen JH, et al. Herb medicine Yin-Chen-Hao-Tang ameliorates hepatic fibrosis in bile duct ligation rats. J Ethnopharmacol. 1-19-2007;109(2):318-324. View Abstract
  7. Magassouba FB, Diallo A, Kouyate M, et al. Ethnobotanical survey and antibacterial activity of some plants used in Guinean traditional medicine. J Ethnopharmacol. 10-8-2007;114(1):44-53. View Abstract
  8. Peng CH, Huang CN, and Wang CJ. The anti-tumor effect and mechanisms of action of penta-acetyl geniposide. Curr Cancer Drug Targets. 2005;5(4):299-305. View Abstract
  9. Sung HW, Huang RN, Huang LL, et al. Feasibility study of a natural crosslinking reagent for biological tissue fixation. J Biomed.Mater.Res 12-15-1998;42(4):560-567. View Abstract
  10. Villasenor IM. Bioactivities of Iridoids. Anti-Inflammatory & Anti-Allergy Agents in Medicinal Chemistry 2007;6(4):307-314.
  11. Wen-Jun L, Hai-Yan W, Wei L, et al. Evidence that geniposide abrogates norepinephrine-induced hypopigmentation by the activation of GLP-1R-dependent c-kit receptor signaling in melanocyte. J Ethnopharmacol. 6-19-2008;118(1):154-158. View Abstract
  12. Yamamoto M and Shoda J. Inchinko-to Agent for liver fibrosis, choleretic agent, hepatoprotectant. Drugs of the Future (Spain) 2005;30:1092-1101.
  13. Yin J, Wennberg RP, and Miller M. Induction of hepatic bilirubin and drug metabolizing enzymes by individual herbs present in the traditional Chinese medicine, yin zhi huang. Dev.Pharmacol Ther 1993;20(3-4):186-194. View Abstract
  14. Yotsumoto H, Yanagita T, Yamamoto K, et al. Inhibitory effects of oren-gedoku-to and its components on cholesteryl ester synthesis in cultured human hepatocyte HepG2 cells: evidence from the cultured HepG2 cells and in vitro assay of ACAT. Planta Med 1997;63(2):141-145. View Abstract
  15. Zhu J, Cai DH, and Rui J. Anti inflammatory and analgesic effects of Cape jasmine (Gardenia jasminoides). Chinese Traditional and Herbal Drugs (China) 2000;31:198-200.

The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.