Gardenias found effective against Cholestasis, says research


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A study, published in the Journal Chinese Herbal Medicines, states that gardenias (Gardenia jasminoides) improve the flow of bile during cholestasis. The researchers of the study evaluated the effect of aqueous extract of gardenia on male Wistar rats.

Cholestasis is a liver disease characterized by an impaired flow of bile from their liver. It may cause symptoms such as jaundice or fatigue. Gardenias or Zhizi, in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), are often used to treat the condition.

The plant belongs to the Rubiaceae family. Health care practitioners administer Zhizi to drive out humidity and heat via the urine to implement its choleretic effects. However, the molecular mechanism behind the plants’ potential has yet to be confirmed via scientific studies.

What does the study say?

The scientists evaluated the effect of different doses of aqueous extract of gardenia powder on the urinary excretion of bile acids in rats. Digestion and the absorption of fats and fat-soluble vitamins, in the small intestine, require bile acids crucially.

Moreover, the researchers also determined the potential mechanism of the plant extract via renal bile acid efflux transporters multidrug resistance-associated protein 2 (Mrp2) and Mrp4 in normal rats.

Mrp2 is abundantly expressed in the bile canalicular membranes of the hepatocytes. It is necessary for the formation of bile.

The researchers fed the rats with either 0.3 milligrams of the extract for each kilogram of their body weight or 0.9 g/kg. This continued daily, for around two weeks and the following factors were evaluated,

  • Body weight
  • One-hour bile flow
  • 12-hour urinary volume
  • Biliary and urinary excretion amount of total bile acids
  • Protein expression of major renal BAs efflux transporter Mrp2 and Mrp4
  • Serum aminotransferase
  • Total bile acid concentrations in the liver, bile, serum, kidney, and urine

The results of the research indicated that high doses of gardenia aqueous extract powder potentially reduce total bile acid concentration in the liver of rats.

The urinary excretion of bile acids increased in the subjects due to the plant extract. However, the bile flow and biliary excretion of the rats didn’t significantly change. As compared to the control group, the gardenia extract up-regulated the renal Mrp2 expression at least two- or three-fold.

Thus, the findings of the study confirm that gardenias have a cholagocic effect. They promote the discharge of bile and develop a convenient yet effective remedy for liver diseases such as cholestasis.

Facts about Cholestasis

Cholestasis is a liver disease characterized by a reduced or blocked flow of bile from the liver.

Bile is a natural liver secretion. It is a fluid, necessary for the proper digestion of food, especially fats. A reduced flow of bile causes the bilirubin to buildup within the body. Bilirubin is a pigment produced by the liver and it is excreted from the body via bile.

Cholestasis is of generally two types,

  • Intrahepatic cholestasis
  • Extrahepatic cholestasis

The former originates within the liver and its common causative conditions include,

  • Diseases
  • Drug use
  • Genetic abnormalities
  • Hormonal effects on bile flow
  • Infections
  • Pregnancy

On the other hand, the latter i.e. extrahepatic cholestasis is caused by a physical barrier to the bile ducts. The cysts, gallstones, or tumors, restricting the flow of bile, are common examples of these barriers.

Both of the types share common symptoms like,

  • Abdominal pain
  • Fatigue
  • Jaundice
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Excessive itching
  • Light-colored stool
  • Nausea

This research suggests a natural, safe, and convenient remedy for the condition that worth a try for sure.


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Areeba Hussain
The author is a Medical Microbiologist and healthcare writer. She is a post-graduate of Medical Microbiology and Immunology. She covers all content on health and wellness including weight loss, nutrition, and general health.

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