Still, these health conditions that impair cognitive function are very much a real threat, especially to aging people, and scientists continue to look for ways to reduce and even reverse the symptoms associated with these diseases. A study published in The American Journal of Chinese Medicine, in particular, looked at gardenia (Gardenia jasminoides) and evaluated its effects on learning and memory using in vivo studies.
The brain controls all our bodily functions, making neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's truly frightening. These conditions can turn simple activities like going home into the most difficult chore, as you begin to forget the once-familiar route you have taken countless times before. Some of the recognized key drivers of Alzheimer's disease include cholinergic (nerve cells) dysfunction, mitochondrial damage, oxidative stress and inflammation of the central nervous system (neuroinflammation).
In the study, researchers looked at Chinese herbs, which have been used medicinally for thousands of years, as a good source for potential drugs for Alzheimer's. They focused on gardenia fruit, a common Chinese herbal medicine, and investigated its protective effects of against cognitive impairment and neurotoxicity on amyloid-beta-induced animal models.
The fruit possesses tranquilizing effects, an important component of widely used traditional Chinese medicine for dementia. The researchers extracted crocin (GJ-4), a carotenoid found in G. jasminoides, and looked at its neuroprotective ability in mice injected with amyloid-beta 25-35.
They found that treatment with GJ-4 dose-dependently enhanced the memory and cognitive ability of the injected mice. Previous studies indicated that the protective effects of GJ-4 target neurons and cholinergic dysfunction. Furthermore, GJ-4 was found to enhance antioxidant capacity and reduce neuroinflammation.
The researchers concluded that gardenia fruit has protective effects against cognitive injury initiated by its compound crocin, and could be a promising source of treatments aimed to improve cognitive and memory injury.
Did you know that gardenia is a cousin of coffee? They are flowering plants in the family Rubiaceae. Like its cousin, gardenia boasts of health benefits. Its essential oil, in particular, is known for its healing properties.
Gardenia essential oil is a sweet-smelling substance that is used in perfumes and aromatherapy. Its scent resembles that of the jasmine flower, which is why gardenia is also known as cape jasmine. But fragrance isn't the only thing it possesses. Below are some of the notable health benefits of gardenia essential oil:
And although not as popular as its cousin in the food industry, gardenia flowers can be added to salads, used as a garnish, and as a natural yellow coloring, thanks to its fruits, which are valued as a less expensive substitute for saffron.