Scentsational Gardenias  

Stand anywhere in my yard. Take a DEEP breath.... Hhhhmmmmm... smell that? That intoxicating fragrance is coming from my Gardenia bush. I only have one, but the breeze carries the sent all over the yard.

Gardenias From My Front Yard
I wondered if Gardenias had any medicinal value, as I tend to believe that most plants do. So I looked it up...

Chinese herbal medicine makes the most extensive use of the gardenia. 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.

The United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service phytochemical and ethnobotanical database lists the following species of gardenia as having specific medicinal properties:

Gardenia gummifera. This species can be helpful in treating digestive problems, including dyspepsia and diarrhea; or used as an astringent and expectorant for nervous conditions and spasms.

Gardenia storckii. This variety can be used in treating constipation.

Gardenia lucida. This gardenia has antiseptic properties that can kill both bacteria and insects.

Gardenia pseudopsidium. This species has been used to treat smallpox.

Gardenia jasminoides. 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 augusta. This variety has shown effectiveness in the treatment of headaches, fever, delirium, mastitis, and jaundice related to liver problems.

Gardenia campanulata. This plant is used in healing wounds, burns, and scalds; in reducing swelling; as a treatment for fever and influenza; in treating jaundice associated with liver problems; and in stopping bleeding.

Gardenia labifolia.This gardenia has been found effective in treating the bites of certain snakes.

The kernel within the gardenia berry is often removed for use in herbal poultices put on sports injuries such as sprains, pulled muscles, or inflammation of nerves. The use of gardenia poultices is particularly common in Chinese medicine. Traditional Chinese practitioners make a paste of the herb with flour and wine. The powdered berry is given in both and capsules. When gardenia is used to stop bleeding it is usually burned before it is simmered in water.

Chinese herbalists state that gardenia should not be used when there is cold deficiency (watery) diarrhea present.

Side Effects
Gardenia has laxative properties, and can cause loose stools when taken frequently or in large amounts.
I have really been enjoying the scented flowers this season. First came the honeysuckle down by the road. Then my dog rose bloomed for the first time since we transplanted it a few years ago. But the Gardenia has got to be one of my favorite fragrances. It takes me back to my childhood... bursting through the door of Granny Trudy's house, out into the yard to play, hearing the screen door slam behind me, running past the blue and green Hydrangeas, and taking in the wonderful smell of Sweet Shrubs and Gardenias in bloom.

But unlike Sweet Shrubs, Gardenias not only smell good, the blooms are big and beautiful and can be packed together for an attention-getting arrangement on your dinning room table. (I'm enjoying them now, as sit and type this --hmm, the whole house smells wonderful.)

This old-fashioned flower may not only hold a lot of good memories for me, but also a lot of new uses!


This entry was posted on Sunday, June 22, 2008 and is filed under . You can leave a response and follow any responses to this entry through the Subscribe to: Post Comments (Atom) .