Gaultheria, a genus belonging to the Ericaceae family, is typically a shrub that produces berries, and closely resembles the blueberry genus Vaccinium. Gaultheria species are used worldwide especially as food and medicine in China. Certain Gaultheria species are biologically active, as antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, and cytotoxic agents. Through literature searches and field surveys, the results of ethnobotanical uses, especially in China, as well as in vitro and in vivo studies are reviewed critically. This review examines the chemistry and bioactivity of this under-studied plant genus, and thus lays the groundwork for its future development for human health.