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Cape jasmine fruits

Chinese: 栀子

Pinyin: Zhī Zi

Parts used: Dried ripe fruit

TCM category: Herbs that clear Heat and purge Fire and/or clear Summer Heat

TCM nature: Cold

TCM taste(s): Bitter

Organ affinity: Gallbladder Heart Lung Sanjiao

Scientific name: Gardenia jasminoides

Other names: Gardenia fruit, Cape jessamine fruit, Danh-danh fruit

Use of cape jasmine fruits (Zhi Zi) in TCM

Please note that you should never self-prescribe TCM ingredients. A TCM ingredient is almost never eaten on its own but as part of a formula containing several ingredients that act together. Please consult a professional TCM practitioner, they will be best able to guide you.

Preparation: Remove stems and impurities, steam or boil slightly in water, dry. Crush before use.

Dosage: 3 - 12 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Clears Heat and calms spirit. Drains Damp-Heat affecting the Liver and Gallbladder. Clears Heat in the Blood and stops bleeding. Anti-inflammatory.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which cape jasmine fruits may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Restlessness Insomnia Hematuria Bloody sputum Nosebleed Uveitis Carbuncles Sores

Contraindications*: Should not be used by those who have diarrhea or those with Cold and Deficiency.

Common TCM formulas in which cape jasmine fruits (Zhi Zi) are used*

Wu Lin San

Source date: 1107 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Formula key actions: Clears heat. Cools the Blood. Promotes urination. Unblocks painful urinary dribbling.

Conditions targeted*: UrethritisCystitis and others

Zhi Zi is a king ingredient in Wu Lin San. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In Wu Lin San, Zhi Zi clears Heat from the Qi aspect via the Triple Burner and cools and moves the Blood. It is ideally suited for a pattern characterized by Damp-Heat leading to reckless movement of the Blood.

Read more about Wu Lin San

Sang Xing Tang

Source date: 1798 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Formula key actions: Clears and disperses Dryness.

Conditions targeted*: Upper respiratory tract infectionsAcute bronchitis and others

Zhi Zi is a king ingredient in Sang Xing Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In Sang Xing Tang, Zhi Zi release Stagnated Heat from the Exterior. Together with Fermented soybeans, they simultaneously prevents the pathogenic influence from penetrating further into the body. 

Read more about Sang Xing Tang

Niu Huang Qing Xin Wan

Source date: 1568 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Formula key actions: Clears Heat and resolves Toxicity. Calms the Mind. Opens up the Orifices.

Conditions targeted*: Viral encephalitisMeningitis and others

Zhi Zi is a deputy ingredient in Niu Huang Qing Xin Wan. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

Read more about Niu Huang Qing Xin Wan

Long Dan Xie Gan Tang

Source date: 1682 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Formula key actions: Clears Heat and Fire from the Liver and Gallbladder. Clears and drains Damp-Heat from the Lower Burner.

Conditions targeted*: FurunclesPurulent otitis and others

Zhi Zi is a deputy ingredient in Long Dan Xie Gan Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

Read more about Long Dan Xie Gan Tang

Lian Po Yin

Source date: 1862 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Formula key actions: Clears Heat. Transforms Dampness. Regulates Qi. Harmonizes the Middle Burner.

Conditions targeted*: GastroenteritisTyphoid and others

Zhi Zi is a deputy ingredient in Lian Po Yin. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Lian Po Yin, Zhi Zi clears the Heat stagnating in the chest and epigastrium

Read more about Lian Po Yin

Yin Chen Hao Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 3 herbs

Formula key actions: Clears heat. Resolves dampness. Reduces jaundice.

Conditions targeted*: Viral hepatitisCirrhosis and others

Zhi Zi is a deputy ingredient in Yin Chen Hao Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Yin Chen Hao Tang, Zhi Zi clears Heat from the Triple Burner, and more specifically, drains Damp-Heat through the urine.

Read more about Yin Chen Hao Tang

Yue Ju Wan

Source date: 1481 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Formula key actions: Promotes the movement of Qi. Releases all types of Stagnation (Qi, Blood, Phlegm, Fire, Food and Dampness).

Conditions targeted*: Peptic ulcersIrritable bowel syndrome and others

Zhi Zi is an assistant ingredient in Yue Ju Wan. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Yue Ju Wan, Zhi Zi clears Heat from all the Three Burners and resolves the Heat generated by the Stagnation and its associated symptoms (like the acid reflux). 

Read more about Yue Ju Wan

Xuan Bi Tang

Source date: 1798 AD

Number of ingredients: 9 herbs

Formula key actions: Clears and resolves Damp-Heat. Unblocks the meridians. Disbands painful obstruction.

Conditions targeted*: Rheumatic feverRheumatoid arthritis and others

Zhi Zi is an assistant ingredient in Xuan Bi Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Xuan Bi Tang, Zhi Zi works together with Talc (Hua Shi) and Adzuki beans (Chi Xiao Dou), other assistants in this formula, to assist the key herb (Stephania root, Han Fang Ji) in clearing Heat and draining Dampness through the urine. 

Read more about Xuan Bi Tang

Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin

Source date: 1958 AD

Number of ingredients: 11 herbs

Formula key actions: Calms the Liver. Extinguishes wind. Invigorates the blood. Clears heat. Tonifies the Liver and Kidneys.

Conditions targeted*: InsomniaHeadache and others

Zhi Zi is an assistant ingredient in Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin, Zhi Zi clears Heat and drains Fire. It prevent the Yang from rising in the Liver Channel

Read more about Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin

Ba Zheng San

Source date: 1107 AD

Number of ingredients: 9 herbs

Formula key actions: Clears Heat and Fire. Promotes urination. Unblocks painful urinary dribbling.

Conditions targeted*: GlomerulonephritisCystitis and others

Zhi Zi is an assistant ingredient in Ba Zheng San. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Ba Zheng San, Zhi Zi drains Heat from the Triple Burner through the urine. 

Read more about Ba Zheng San

Di Tan Tang

Source date: 1470 AD

Number of ingredients: 9 herbs

Formula key actions: Removes Phlegm. Opens the sensory orifices. Tonifies Qi.

Zhi Zi is an assistant ingredient in Di Tan Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Di Tan Tang, Zhi Zi breaks up Stagnation and transforms Phlegm.

Read more about Di Tan Tang

Dang Gui Long Hui Wan

Source date: 1172 AD

Number of ingredients: 11 herbs

Formula key actions: Drains Liver and Gallbladder Fire Excess.

Conditions targeted*: VertigoTinnitus and others

Zhi Zi is an assistant ingredient in Dang Gui Long Hui Wan. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Dang Gui Long Hui Wan, Zhi Zi drains Fire from the Triple Burner.

Read more about Dang Gui Long Hui Wan

Huang Lian Jie Du Tang

Source date: 752 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Formula key actions: Drains Fire. Resolves Toxin.

Conditions targeted*: SepticemiaPyemia and others

Zhi Zi is an assistant ingredient in Huang Lian Jie Du Tang. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Huang Lian Jie Du Tang, Zhi Zi drains Heat from the Triple Burners through urination. It is especially powerful in relieving anxiety and irritability. 

Read more about Huang Lian Jie Du Tang

Jia Wei Xiao Yao San

Source date: Ming dynasty

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Formula key actions: Clears Liver and Spleen Qi Stagnation. Tonifies Spleen. Clears Deficient Heat. Nourishes the blood.

Conditions targeted*: InfertilityMenorrhagia and others

Read more about Jia Wei Xiao Yao San

Dan Zhi Xiao Yao San

Source date: 2002 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Formula key actions: Clears Liver Fire from Stagnant Liver Qi.

In Dan Zhi Xiao Yao San, Zhi Zi clears Heat

Read more about Dan Zhi Xiao Yao San

Xuan Yu Tong Jing Tang

Source date: 1826 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Formula key actions: Pacifies the Liver. Removes Stagnation. Drains Fire. Unblocks the Meridians.

In Xuan Yu Tong Jing Tang, Zhi Zi clears Liver Heat

Read more about Xuan Yu Tong Jing Tang

Key TCM concepts behind cape jasmine fruits (Zhi Zi)'s properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), cape jasmine fruits are plants that belong to the 'Herbs that clear Heat and purge Fire and/or clear Summer Heat' category. Herbs in this category are used to clear inflammatory and infectious conditions, referred to as 'Internal Heat' in TCM. This is why most of the herbs in this category will have both antibacterial and antiviral properties. In TCM one has too much 'Internal Heat' in their body as a result of a deficiency of 'Yin' (which is Cold in nature, see our explanation on Yin and Yang) or, more commonly, an Excess of Yang (Hot in nature). Herbs that clear Heat and purge Fire treat the latter and as such tend to be Cold or Neutral in nature.

As suggested by its category cape jasmine fruits are plants that are Cold in nature. This means that cape jasmine fruits typically help people who have too much 'Heat' in their body. Balance between Yin and Yang is a key health concept in TCM. Those who have too much Heat in their body are said to either have a Yang Excess (because Yang is Hot in nature) or a Yin deficiency (Yin is Cold in Nature). Depending on your condition cape jasmine fruits can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Cape jasmine fruits also taste Bitter. The so-called 'Five Phases' theory in Chinese Medicine states that the taste of TCM ingredients is a key determinant of their action in the body. Bitter ingredients like cape jasmine fruits tend to have a cleansing action on the body by clearing Heat, drying Dampness and promoting elimination via urination or bowel movements.

The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what Organs and Meridians they target. As such cape jasmine fruits are thought to target the Gallbladder, the Heart, the Lung and the Sanjiao. Similar to modern medicine, in TCM the Gallbladder stores and releases bile produced by the Liver. It also controls the emotion of decisiveness. In addition to regulating Blood flow, the Heart is believed to be the store of the 'Mind' which basically refers to someone's vitality. In addition to performing respiration, the Lungs are thought in TCM to be a key part of the production chain for Qi and the Body Fluids that nourish the body. The Triple Burner (Sanjiao) is a special concept in TCM with no corresponding organ in modern medicine. Its function is similar to a water wheel: Body Fluids, Qi and food are transported through the San Jiao and that very movement helps our metabolism.

Research on cape jasmine fruits (Zhi Zi)

Shufeng Liangxue Decoction (consisting of cape-jasmine fruits) is effective and safe in treating hormone dependence dermatitis with the efficacy better and relapse rate lower than those of treatment with Western medicine alone.1

The fruit of Gardenia jasminoides ELLIS has strong antihyperlipidemic activities and could improve hyperlipidemia (i.e. a condition in which there are high levels of fat particles in the blood).2

EtOH extract of gardenia (Gardenia jasminoides Ellis) fruits possesses potent anti-angiogenic activity (i.e. stopping tumours from growing their own blood vessels) in the chick embryo chorioallantoic membrane (CAM) assay.3

Sources:

1. Bai YS, Zhou CY, Wang JQ. (2008). Clinical observation on auxiliary treatment of hormone dependence dermatitis by shufeng liangxue decoction. Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi. , 28(12):1121-3.

2. In-Ah Lee, Jin Hee Lee, Nam-In Baek, Dong-Hyun Kim (2005). Antihyperlipidemic Effect of Crocin Isolated from the Fructus of Gardenia jasminoides and Its Metabolite Crocetin. Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin, 28(11), p. 2106-2110. https://doi.org/10.1248/bpb.28.2106

3. HJ Koo, S Lee, KH Shin, BC Kim, CJ Lim et al. (2004). Geniposide, an Anti-Angiogenic Compound from the Fruits of Gardenia jasminoides. Planta Med 2004; 70(5): 467-469. DOI: 10.1055/s-2004-818978

Use of cape jasmine fruits (Zhi Zi) as food

Cape jasmine fruits are also eaten as food.