Central neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease (AD) and Parkinson's disease (PD), are one of the biggest health problems worldwide. Currently, there is no cure for these diseases. The Gardenia jasminoides fruit is a common herbal medicine in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), and a variety of preparations are used as treatments for central nervous system (CNS) diseases. Pharmacokinetic studies suggest genipin is one of the main effective ingredients of G. jasminoides fruit extract (GFE). Accumulated research data show that genipin possesses a range of key pharmacological properties, such as anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective, neurogenic, antidiabetic, and antidepressant effects. Thus, genipin shows therapeutic potential for central neurodegenerative diseases. We review the pharmacological actions of genipin for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases of the CNS. We also describe the potential mechanisms underlying these effects.