17 Awesome Uses and Benefits of Gardenia Essential Oil

(Last Updated On: August 3, 2018)

Gardenia is a highly aromatic, and very beautiful flower, whose fragrance is sought after for use in perfumery. True gardenia oil (Gardenia jasminoides) is however very costly and difficult to produce, so most perfumes and other products that carry this fragrance use synthetic gardenia.

When it comes to gardenia essential oil, essential oil is the wrong term to use. Gardenia oil is actually an absolute. Absolutes generally have a fragrance that is much truer to the original aroma of the plant than an essential oil.

Essential oils are obtained by the steam distillation or cold pressing of plant materials, including flowers, leaves, roots, bark, wood and fruit peels.  Some flowers are too delicate to stand up to the steam distillation process, and their therapeutic qualities and fragrance are destroyed, so to obtain their precious oils other methods of extraction are used.

Before an absolute oil can be made, a substance known as a concrete must be created from the plant material. This is done using a solvent called hexane.

Solvent extraction used to be a damaging process, and the absolutes obtained were at one time only considered suitable for use in perfumery. Today methods have been improved, and quality absolutes are used therapeutically in aromatherapy practise.

The concrete obtained using solvent extraction is a solid waxy material, which consists of around 50% wax and 50% volatile oil.

To create the liquid absolute the concrete is processed with another solvent, this time an alcohol called ethanol. Many rounds of ethanol extraction are used to completely remove the wax and leave a pure oil behind.

Gardenia oil used to be produced by a process known as enfleurage which involves using fats to absorb the oils from the flowers. Enfleurage can take many months, and oils are rarely produced in this way today.

A lot of products labeled as gardenia essential oil will infact be a synthetic product with no therapeutic benefits at all. When you purchase gardenia, you must check that you are buying an absolute and that is difficult to do because many vendors lie about their products.

Perfume historian Octavian Coifan, says that no genuine Gardenia absolute has been produced since 1938.

The most abundant constituent of gardenia oil is benzyl acetate, which is the same constituent that accounts for much of the makeup of another highly fragrant absolute, jasmine oil, and the two smell quite similar.

There is great difficulty in obtaining genuine gardenia absolute and this may be why reputable sellers like Tisserand, Mountain Rose Herbs and Plant Therapy don’t carry it.

While a synthetic oil is fine if you only want to obtain a gardenia like fragrance for using in a diffuser to fragrance a room, or for use in perfume making, it would be prudent to be very cautious about using any oil claiming to be gardenia for therapeutic use, as you have no real way of knowing what is in the oil.

Easy to produce oils like lavender essential oil and the citrus oils are inexpensive and there is little for sellers to gain by selling a fake product, and you are quite safe to buy these types of oils from general retailers like Amazon. But when it comes to the more expensive oils, there is money to be made by unscrupulous vendors by selling adulterated oils or by selling out right fakes.

When it comes to any expensive essential oil or absolute, it is worth only buying from a reputable company. Additionally, I would be very wary of buying some oils from multilevel marketing companies (MLMs).

Instead of taking a chance on what may very well turn out to be a synthetic product you can obtain the same therapeutic benefits of gardenia by choosing jasmine absolute instead, and jasmine oil is available from reputable sellers.

The rest of this article will concentrate on the therapeutic benefits of gardenia oil that can also be obtained more reliably from jasmine oil.

Principal Constituents Of Gardenia Absolute Compared With Jasmine Absolute

The main constituents in gardenia are:

  • Benzyl acetate
  • Phenyl acetate
  • Linalool
  • Linalyl acetate
  • Terpineol
  • Methyl anthranilate

The main constituents in jasmine are:

  • Benzyl acetate
  • Linalool
  • Phenylacetic acid
  • Benzyl alcohol
  • Methyl anthranilate
  • Farnesol
  • Methyl jasmonate

Therapeutic Actions

  • Analgesic (mild) – relieves pain
  • Antidepressant – relieves depression
  • Anti-inflammatory – reduces inflammation
  • Antiseptic – kills microorganisms
  • Antispasmodic – prevents and eases spasms and convulsions
  • Aphrodisiac –  increases sexual desire
  • Carminative – settles the digestive system and relieves gas.
  • Cicatrisant – promotes wound healing by building scar tissue
  • Expectorant – loosens mucus in the respiratory tract and aids expulsion
  • Galactogogue – increases milk production
  • Parturient – aids childbirth
  • Sedative – calms the body and mind
  • Uterine tonic – strengthens the uterus

Note – should not be used in pregnancy unless labor has been confirmed.

While both of these oils possess a variety of properties, you should bear in mind that many other oils possess these same properties and generally have stronger effects. For example while these oils have expectorant properties, essential oils like eucalyptus, tea tree or thyme would be better choices. Likewise to kill bacteria, any of the citrus oils would be a better choice as would tea tree oil.

1. Relieves Muscular Aches And Pains

Use two drops of the absolute diluted in one ounce of a carrier oil, and rub into the affected area. The oils work to reduce inflammation and relieve pain.

Other oils that you can use for this purpose include lavender, thyme, eucalyptus, ginger, sweet marjoram, chamomile and rosemary. Use 10 to 15 drops of these (or a blend) per ounce of carrier oil.

2. Lifts Mood

This is perhaps the most suitable application for these oils, given that many other oils can stand in for other actions, but only a few oils have strong antidepressant and mood lifting qualities.

To use oils for this purpose, it is best to diffuse them into your surroundings with an ultrasonic aromatherapy diffuser.

Because absolutes are much more concentrated than essential oils just one or two drops should be sufficient.

You can also simply uncap the bottle and inhale the therapeutic molecules although the strength of an absolute can be quite overwhelming.

When essential oils and absolutes are inhaled millions of molecules travel directly to a region of the brain that handles emotions, which is why using the right essential oils can have such profound effects on mood disorders.

3. Opens Sinuses

When added to a steam, gardenia and jasmine oils can help to open sinuses and relieve the congestion associated with colds, flu and allergies.

To make a decongestant steam, boil a pan of water and carefully pour it into a ceramic , metal or glass bowl.

Add one or two drops of your oil to the water and then drape a towel over your head and lean over the rising steam.

Don’t get to close to the surface of the water as the steam there will be very hot and you could scald your face. Also keep your eyes closed to avoid irritation.

Breathe deeply, holding the towel around the bowl to form a tent that traps the aromatic steam.

Take breaks from time to time to blow your nose and then return to the steam until the water cools and stops producing more steam.

Initially you may not be able to breathe very deeply but as the oils get to work, dilating your airways and loosening mucus, breathing will become easier.

You may find an oil like eucalyptus to be a more effective decongestant.

4. Helps With Menstrual Problems

Regular use of oils that have uterine strengthening properties can help to relieve a number of menstrual problems, like irregular periods, heavy bleeding and painful periods.

Massage diluted oils into your lower abdomen daily for best results.

You can also use lemon balm, basil, frankincense, juniper, lavender, sweet marjoram, rosemary and sage essential oils.

5. Eases Cramps

Antispasmodic oils have the ability to relax spasming and cramped muscles. They can bring relief to the digestive tract, uterus and other muscles.

Dilute with a carrier oil and massage into the affected area.

Other more suitable and less expensive oils include, lavender, sweet marjoram, thyme, coriander and rosemary.

6. Aids Indigestion And painful Gas

Use a couple of drops of these absolutes in one ounce of a carrier oil like jojoba or sweet almond oil and massage the oil into your upper and lower abdomen. The oils will be absorbed through your skin into your bloodstream where they will act upon your digestive discomfort.

A better choice for indigestion and gas is peppermint essential oil, fresh peppermint leaf or peppermint tea.

Use 10 to 15 drops of peppermint essential oil in one ounce of carrier oil.

Chew fresh peppermint leaves for almost instant relief, or sip a strong cup of peppermint tea.


7. Promotes Restful Sleep

Adding a few drops of these oils to a warm bath before bed can help to relax your body, calm your mind and make falling asleep easier. You can also massage diluted oil into your neck and shoulders, or diffuse the oils in your bedroom using an ultrasonic aromatherapy diffuser or an oil burner.

Another very good oil for promoting sleep is lavender essential oil, and some others that you may like to use include, frankincense, lemon verbena, bergamot, ylang ylang and orange blossom (neroli).

8. Soothes And Restores Dry And Sensitive Skin

A couple of drops of these absolutes added to a rich carrier oil like coconut, olive, jojoba, or rice bran oil, makes a very effective moisturising oil for dry and sensitive skin, and the anti-inflammatory properties of the oils calm and soothe irritation.

You can also add a few drops to your prefered moisturizing cream or lotion.

Other effective oils for dry and sensitive skin that you may like to consider using are, German or Roman chamomile, lavender, frankincense, rosewood and sandalwood.

9. Eases Coughs

To ease a cough, you can diffuse these oils into your surroundings, inhale via a steam, or massage diluted oils into your chest, back and neck.

Alternative essential oils for this purpose include ginger (most effective), star anise, aniseed, basil, cajeput, eucalyptus, sweet marjoram, lemon, lime and thyme.

10. Aids Labor

Along with other rich floral oils like rose and neroli, jasmine and gardenia can help to provide a better childbirth experience in several ways.

As the oils can act to ease stress and lift mood, they can help a woman to cope with the often long labor experience, promoting relaxation and eliminating the tension that interfere with the birthing process.

As uterine tonic these oils can also strengthen contractions and make them more productive.

It isn’t safe to use these oils unless labor has been confirmed by your healthcare provider. Once you are certain that labor is progressing, you can use an aromatherapy diffuser with the oils or you can use one or two drops diluted with a carrier oil to massage into your lower back and abdomen.

11. Relieves Headaches

Inhaled via a diffuser or applied to the temples, jasmine and gardenia can ease the tension that causes headaches and provide relief. Dilute with a carrier oil before applying to the skin.

Other essential oils that you use for headaches include lavender which can be rubbed into the temples undiluted, lemongrass, eucalyptus, sweet marjoram, rosemary and thyme.

12. Helps With Laryngitis

When used in a steam as described above, these oils can help with the symptoms of laryngitis. Diluted oils can also be massaged into the neck.

Alternative oils for laryngitis include lemon eucalyptus, frankincense, lavender, myrrh, sage, sandalwood and thyme.

13. Kills Bacteria

A couple of drops of these oils added to water can be used to clean and disinfect minor cuts and scrapes and to cleanse spots and blemishes.

Given the expense of gardenia and jasmine oils, it is more practical and effective to use other oils for this purpose. Any of the citrus oils, tea tree oil, eucalyptus or lavender would be good choices.

14. Calms Inflammation

Inflammation in the body is a result of many health problems and its presence can cause other conditions to develop. Some kinds of inflammation are apparent on your skin, like spots, rashes and swellings for example, or is evident because of joint or muscle pain. But other inflammation goes completely unnoticed until it manifests as an illness or chronic condition.

In addition to eating foods that help to combat inflammation, you can use anti-inflammatory essential oils.

To help diminish inflammation, dilute gardenia and jasmine absolute and massage into your skin regularly.

Other essential oils that are indicated for inflammation include, German chamomile, eucalyptus, lavender, sweet marjoram, rosemary, clary sage, juniper, frankincense, peppermint and patchouli.

15. Eases Stiff Joints

With their mild pain relieving and anti-inflammatory properties, these oils can be massaged into painful stiff joints to bring relief. The calming and relaxing qualities of the oils will also help to relieve pain because tense, stressed bodies and minds experience higher levels of pain than those that are calm and relaxed.

Dilute two drops of absolute in one ounce of any carrier oil and massage into joints.

Alternative oils for joint pain include, cajeput, camphor, cedarwood, clove, coriander, eucalyptus, lemon, ginger, sweet marjoram, nutmeg, sage, thyme, rosemary and vetiver.

16. Supports Liver Health And Aids Detoxification

Your liver is your body’s detox center and an important part of your immune system. When it is functioning well, it will remove harmful metabolic by products, chemical contaminants and environmental pollutants from your body and help you to fight infection.

A sluggish liver that is under strain can’t carry out its functions correctly and all manner of maladies can then ensue.

Regular massage over the liver with supportive essential oils helps to strengthen and improve liver function.

Other good essential oils to use for this purpose are peppermint, rosemary, juniper, fennel, cypress, chamomile and thyme.

You can also try these blends if you have a preference for other oils:

17. Use As A Delightful And Sensuous Ingredient In Your Fragrance Blends

Both gardenia and jasmine smell absolutely wonderful, and are superb choices to add to any homemade fragrance, whether that is for use in scented candles, linen sprays, bath products or perfumes.

They blend well with ylang ylang, bergamot, rose, sandalwood, frankincense, orange blossom, sweet marjoram, patchouli, and orange essential oils.

It’s very easy to make your own perfume blends using essential oils. All you need is a clean roller ball bottle filled with a carrier oil like sweet almond oil and then add a few drops of your favorite oils.

Test oil blends on cotton pads before adding to the bottle, to make sure that you’re happy with the finished combination.

Use your perfume on your pulse points, for long lasting fragrance.

As noted earlier, gardenia absolute doesn’t appear to be reliably produced anymore, and oils for sale are likely to be synthetic fragrance oils (which are fine for perfume use).

I am aware of one supplier that claims to produce a gardenia oil using the enfleurage process, but cannot vouch for its authenticity. This oil can be found at Artisan Essential Oils and costs $57 for 2ml. 2ml will contain about 20 drops of oil.

Jasmine absolute is much easier to find and its authenticity can be guaranteed when you purchase the oil from vendors like Mountain Rose Herbs or Tisserand.

At Mountain Rose Herbs 1/8th ounce (3.5 ml) of jasmine absolute costs $82, and at Tisserand a one third ounce bottle (10 ml) of jasmine absolute costs $177.

Given the price of these oils it is better to use other appropriate oils where indicated and reserve the more expensive oils for situations where they will have the most beneficial effects, or for use in perfumery where their fragrance can’t easily be replicated.

Written by Irina Radosevic MD
Irina graduated from the University of Belgrade, School of Medicine as a Doctor of Medicine (MD) and spent over 3 years working in the Clinical Hospital Center Zvezdara, in the Department of Emergency Medicine. She also undertook a postgraduate in Cardiology from the same University and had previously worked for over a year as a Physician and Nutritionist Dietitian for the Fitness club Green Zone. She eventually left her chaotic but fulfilling job in the ER to pursue her passion of writing, travelling and mountain climbing which has included writing a first aid course for the alpine club of Belgrade. Irina currently works as a VA for PintMedia focusing on medical and travel writing. Feel free to connect with Irina on LinkedIn and FaceBook. Her CV can be seen here.