Scientific Name/Common Name: Gentiana lutea / Gentian
Part(s) Used: Root
Constituents/Active Ingredients: Iridoids (marogentin, gentiopicroside); xanthones (gentisein, gentisin); alkaloids (gentianine); phenolic acids; sugars, traces of volatile oil.
Overview: Gentian root and rhizome, otherwise known as Bitter Root, is named after King Gentius of ancient Illyria (180-167 B.C.) who is said to have discovered its medicinal properties. This classical bitter herb is a yellow-flowering perennial native to the alpine meadows of central and southern Europe and western Asia. The commercial supply of gentian root largely comes from the mountains of France, Spain, and the Balkans from elevations between 1,000-2,500 meters. Permits are required to harvest gentian, now a protected plant in Germany and many other countries, because it has been extirpated from many different areas. Wild harvested plants generally require 7 to 10 years to be harvestable. Traditionally, gentian is used for treating flatulent colic and indigestion. The German Commission E approves gentian root and rhizome for treating digestive complaints including lack of appetite, feeling of distention, and flatulence.
Traditional Use/Benefits/Body Systems: Traditionally used in Herbal Medicine to help relieve digestive disturbances/dyspepsia; as a digestive tonic and bitter to help stimulate appetite and aid digestion (stomachic); to help prevent nausea (anti-emetic), and to help increase bile flow (cholagogue).
Clinical Studies/Scientific Research/References:
Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinckmann J, editors. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. Boston (MA): Integrative Medicine Communications; 2000.
Hoffmann D. 2003. Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. Rochester (VT): Healing Arts Press.
Wichtl M (ed). 1994. Gentianae radix – Gentian (English translation by Norman Grainger Bisset). In Herbal Drugs and Phyto-pharmaceuticals. CRC Press, Stuttgart, pp. 2330-235.
Disclaimer: This information in our Herbal Encyclopedia is intended only as a general reference for educational purposes. It is not a replacement for medical advice. This content does not provide dosage information, cautions/contraindications, or possible interactions with prescription drugs. Please consult any relevant product labels for detailed information on use and with a medical practitioner for individual health advice.