Gardenia Essential Oil: A Rare Floral Absolute With Powerful Properties
Many essential oils are famous for their floral scents. Essential oils derived from flowers such as lavender, jasmine, and rose are popular favorites. A lesser known floral oil is gardenia. The plants are ubiquitous in gardens across the world, but the oil's rarity has made it somewhat elusive. Boasting similar health benefits to its floral counterparts, gardenia essential oil deserves a closer look.
Gardenia is used commonly in scented candles and the essential oil has been a staple of Chinese herbal medicine. It has been used to treat mood disorders such as depression and alleviate pain. This oil is also commonly used in Ayurveda and to enhance meditation and yoga practices. It provides extensive health benefits when used topically and in aromatherapy.
What Is Gardenia Essential Oil?
Gardenia essential oil is extracted from the gardenia evergreen shrub. The gardenia plant is part of the Rubiaceae family, which includes the coffee and cinnamon leaf plants. There are more than 250 varieties of gardenia plants, but the essential oil is extracted from the one known botanically as Gardenia jasminoides. The plant is native to China and is commonly found in Korea, Taiwan, Japan, Myanmar, Vietnam, and India. It is a common houseplant in the United States and Europe as well.
Gardenia essential oil is available is two forms: pure essential oil and absolutes. That means it is extracted using a chemical method or enfleurage rather than cold pressing or steam distillation. The oil is extracted from the gardenia flower petals, which are too delicate for the standard methods of essential oil extraction. The white flowers are harvested after blooming.
Traditionally, gardenia essential oil was extracted using a process called enfleurage. Artisans use odorless animal fats to extract the essential oils out of flower petals during the enfleurage process. The oil is then removed from the animal fats using alcohol. The enfleurage process takes several months and results in more expensive essential oils. Pure gardenia essential oils on the market are produced using enfleurage and can be pricey.
Today, most gardenia essential oil is produced using solvents meaning they are absolutes. The quality of these essential oils can vary widely since different manufacturers use different solvents. Some of these chemicals are harsh and have negative side effects while others are more organic. Make sure to purchase your gardenia essential oil from a reputable source to avoid any contaminants and dangerous chemicals. Oils produced from enfleurage rather than solvents tend to be healthier and better quality.
Gardenia essential oil effuses a strong and seductive scent. The aroma is floral, sweet, and alluring. Gardenia flowers are often used in marital ceremonies due to the innocent and sweet yet cloying fragrance. The delightful scent of gardenia oil blends well with other floral fragrances such as jasmine and lavender essential oil. It also pairs well with citrus oils such as bergamot and spicy scents such as ylang ylang and clove bud essential oil.
Health Benefits of Gardenia Essential Oil
1. Reduces Depression and Alleviates Anxiety
One of the most well known gardenia essential oil benefits is in its treatment of depression. Used in ancient Chinese medicine, this essential oil helps to lift mood and induce relaxation. A study conducted by the Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine found that gardenia essential oil triggers chemical reactions in the emotional centers of the brain. Researchers found that the gardenia extract offered antidepressive benefits for up to 20 hours.
How to Use: Aromatherapy or Extract
Add a few drops of gardenia essential oil to your diffuser when you are feeling sad or having a hard time sleeping. You can also use gardenia aromatherapy during meditation and yoga to further increase mood and decrease feelings of helplessness. Alternatively, you can take an approved gardenia supplement orally for severe cases of depression.
2. Combats Inflammation and Pain
Gardenia essential oil can be used to alleviate pain and decrease inflammation. This oil contains antioxidants that work to eliminate free radicals that can cause oxidative stress that leads to pain. It also contains geniposide and genipin — two compounds that boast anti-inflammatory properties. Gardenia oil helps to reduce symptoms of pain associated with arthritis and intense workouts by decreasing swelling and inflammation.
Gardenia essential oil can also be used to treat pain associated with headaches, menstrual cramps, and sports injuries. It helps to increase circulation and blood flow, reducing tension headaches and debilitating migraines. A Chinese animal study examined the effects of gardenia compounds on pain in mice. The researchers discovered that the compound gardenoside showed faster recovery from pain symptoms and a decrease in pain intensity.
How to Use: Massage Oil
Combine 3 drops of gardenia oil with 5 drops of carrier oil such as coconut oil. Heat the oils in the microwave for 10 to 15 seconds. Make sure the oil is not too hot before applying to your skin. Apply the oil directly to the affected area and massage gently using a circular motion.
3. Aids in Weight Loss
Gardenia essential oil has been effective when it comes to regulating and preventing obesity. Compounds in gardenia works to accelerate metabolism and streamline the liver's ability to burn fat. Gardenia oil also contains a peptide known as GLP-1. This peptide is secreted when food is consumed and suppresses appetite. The GLP-1 peptide can help you feel fuller faster and longer, thus preventing overeating and weight gain.
A study published in the Journal of Exercise Nutrition and Biochemistry examined the ability of gardenia to treat obesity. Researchers examined 35 middle-aged women who had a body fat percentage of more than 35 percent. The women who consumed gardenia fruit and exercised regularly showed increased weight loss when compared to women who just exercised. Insulin resistance was also decreased, showing promise for the treatment of diabetes.
How to Use: Supplement or Aromatherapy
To reap the weight loss benefits of gardenia, take a gardenia supplement or drink gardenia tea daily. Alternatively, inhaling the fragrance of gardenia essential oil can trigger many of the same positive weight loss benefits as consuming the plant extracts. Simply add 3 to 4 drops to your diffuser and inhale deeply before each meal for appetite suppression.
4. Heals Wounds and Prevents Infections
Gardenia essential oil is great for skin health. It contains antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties that help wounds heal faster and prevent infections. The antioxidants in gardenia promote faster cell reproduction, which reduces healing time. The antibacterial properties of gardenia oil also combat disease such as listeria and E.coli.
How to Use: Wound Salve
Make a gardenia salve to help promote wound healing. Simply mix a few drops of gardenia oil with carrier oil such as fractionated coconut oil. Apply directly to wounds or scrapes. Cover with a Band-Aid or gauze to keep larger wounds clean.
5. Improves the Appearance of Skin
Gardenia essential oil helps improve skin elasticity and makes skin look even and youthful. This oil contains antioxidants that eliminate free radicals caused by pollution, smoking, and other environmental factors. These free radicals cause signs of premature aging including fine lines and wrinkles. Gardenia antioxidants also help to speed up cell production, resulting in firmer skin that looks rejuvenated.
How to Use: Facial Steam Bath or Moisturizer
To reap the skincare benefits of gardenia essential oil, make a steam bath at home. Simply fill a large bowl with about 4 cups of hot water. Add in 6 drops of gardenia essential oil. Lean over the bowl and cover your head with a towel. Enjoy the steam bath for 5 to 10 minutes.
Alternatively, you can use gardenia oil as part of your moisturizing routing. Add 2 drops of gardenia oil to your favorite moisturizer or combine with rich carrier oil such as olive oil. Apply liberally to your face before bed.
6. Eliminates Offensive Odors
The sweet, floral fragrance of gardenia oil makes it ideal for use in fragrances, soaps, and deodorants. The antibacterial properties help to remove bacteria that can cause bad odor.
How to Use: Add to Deodorant
Add a few drops to your diffuser to make any room smell better. You can make your own concoctions at home by blending this oil with complementary oils such as rose oil, jasmine oil, and neroli oil.
Add a few drops of this oil to your existing deodorant for a lingering, floral scent that will keep you smelling fresh all day long.
Side Effects of Gardenia Essential Oil
Gardenia essential oil is considered safe when applied topically and used in aromatherapy. There are a few side effects that may occur, but most can be avoided with proper use. Some research has shown potential negative side effects in pregnant women. Some research has shown potential negative side effects in pregnant women. The oil has been used to promote milk production, but not enough is known about potential side effects. Consult with a healthcare provider before using gardenia essential oil if you are pregnant or breastfeeding to avoid health problems.
Gardenia essential oil can cause skin rashes and irritation in people with sensitive skin. This oil can also cause allergic reactions in individuals who have sensitivities to floral plants. Always conduct a patch test on a small area of skin before applying liberally. Make sure to apply gardenia oil in combination with carrier oil such as jojoba oil to avoid irritation.
Gardenia oil is available as an absolute and as a pure essential oil. Gardenia absolutes are not recommended for aromatherapy use as the chemicals and solvents in its production can be harmful. Only use pure gardenia oil in aromatherapy applications. Absolutes are typically recommended only for use as fragrance oils, but modern techniques have made these versions safer.
Always buy your essential oils from a reputable dealer. Make sure you understand how the oil was extracted as well as how the gardenia plant was cultivated before purchasing. Gardenia oils from plants grown with pesticides can have additional side effects. Always opt for organically and sustainably produced essential oils.
Go Floral With Gardenia Essential Oil
Gardenia essential oil is a floral scent that is often compared to jasmine and rose oils. Use this oil interchangeably with its complementary scents. To reap the health benefits, add a few drops to your diffuser, bath, or massage oil. The cloying scent makes any day more relaxing and helps to uplift your mood. The antibacterial properties can help boost your immune system and keep you healthy all year long. It's also a great addition to your gym bag that helps to keep your belongings smelling fresh and can be used in a jiffy to alleviate sore muscles.