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Gardenia jasminoides, also known as cape jasmine or cape jessamine, is a common type of gardenia that has a long history of medicinal use. Not only has Gardenia jasminoides been used in Chinese medicine for hundreds of years, but extracts of the gardenia fruit have been scientifically studied and proved to be effective for many of the same conditions for which Chinese medical practitioners have been prescribing it for centuries. Zhizi, as Gardenia jasminoides is called in Chinese medicine, is considered a bitter, cold herb that helps with yin deficiency. In conventional Western medicine, the medicinal plant has been shown effective in reducing inflammation and exhibits anti-angiogenic properties.
In traditional Chinese medicine, the kernel of the Gardenia jasminoides berry is made into a paste and used to treat redness and swelling for conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. It is considered effective for relieving anxiety and agitation, so it is frequently prescribed for depression and insomnia. Some aromatherapists prescribe gardenia oil for anxiety and nervous tension owing to its calming effect.
Gardenia jasminoides may also be used to treat physical and emotional menopausal symptoms. Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners use it to cool and detoxify the blood, stop bleeding, and help injuries to heal more quickly. Due to this ability, it is used to treat nosebleeds and other bleeding conditions, such as blood in the urine.
Recent Western medical research has supported the medicinal properties of Gardenia jasminoides. Scientists have isolated several different compounds that are effective at treating medical conditions. Rat and mouse studies have shown the herb to be effective against rheumatoid arthritis. It lessens inflammation in the body by raising glutathione levels.
A 2006 study showed that a compound in gardenia is able to inhibit an enzyme in the body that prevents diabetics from making sufficient insulin. Although more research is needed to back up these results, the study suggests that Gardenia jasminoides may help diabetics to increase blood insulin levels. Higher insulin levels allow those with diabetes to regulate blood sugar.
Other research has shown cape jasmine to have antiangiongenic properties. This means that it prevents or slows the growth of new blood vessels from existing ones. Antiangiongenic therapies are useful in treating malignancies and may be responsible for the herbal remedy’s effectiveness against conditions involving excessive bleeding.
In the Chinese medical tradition, practitioners consider the whole patient and do a thorough examination prior to prescribing treatment. Self-treatment is discouraged, so Gardenia jasminoides should not be taken without consulting a Chinese medical practitioner. As the herb has laxative properties, it can be dangerous if taken when diarrhea is present.