Gentian: Uses, Daily Dose, Synonyms, Effects, and Side Effects

Gentian Uses, Daily Dose, Synonyms, Effects, and Side Effects

Gentians originally came from France, Spain, and the Balkan countries. Small-scale cultivation takes place in France and Germany. Despite the existing protection of species, the plant stocks are endangered in some regions since there is a high demand for gentian as a medicine, especially in the spirits industry. For this reason, cultivation efforts are currently being promoted.

The roots and rhizomes of the gentian are used medicinally.

Gentian: special characteristics

Gentian is a perennial mountain plant up to 1.5 m tall, with a vigorous rootstock and large, oval, blue-green leaves. The mighty flowering shoots with yellow flowers are in cymes in the axils of the cup-shaped bracts.

Several species of gentian are used as a source of drugs. Since gentian is under natural protection in Germany, only plants from cultivation areas may be used.

The drug consists of brownish and reddish-brown roots up to several centimetres thick and often also parts of rootstocks. The roots are grooved lengthwise; if you cut it open crosswise, you can often see the relatively narrow bark.


Smell and taste of gentian root

Gentian root gives off a faint and peculiarly sweet odour reminiscent of dried figs. The taste of gentian root is initially sweet but then becomes intensely bitter.

Gentian – application

Gentian is a potent bitter agent for loss of appetite and digestive problems such as flatulence and a feeling of fullness. Combined with other substances, preparations made from gentian can traditionally be taken to support digestive function and general discomfort. Gentian root is also a tonic and stimulates the flow of bile.

Gentian in folk medicine and homeopathy

In folk medicine, gentian root has been a gastric remedy for centuries. Gentian is also very popular in homoeopathy for the treatment of indigestion.


ingredients of gentian

Essential active ingredients in gentian root are the extremely bitter secoiridoids, including gentiopicroside and small amounts of wertiamarin and Sweroside. Amarogentin, one of the most bitter known substances, is also contained in the drug and is responsible for the bitter taste despite the deficient concentration. The root owes its yellow-brown colour to certain xanthones.

Gentian: For what indication?

Gentian is used in the following cases:

  • loss of appetite
  • indigestion
  • bloating
  • gas
  • malaise
  • weakness

Gentian – dosage

Gentian root is contained in various tea mixtures to indicate gastrointestinal complaints and loss of appetite. The teas are also available in filter bags containing 20-250 mg gentian root per gram of tea blend. Among herbal medicines, many gastrointestinal remedies contain dry and fluid extracts of the drug.

Commercially, gentian root is mainly used to flavour alcoholic beverages (bitter).

Average daily dose

Unless otherwise prescribed, the average daily dose is 2-4 g for the drug, 1-3 g for the tincture and 2-4 g for the fluid extract.


Gentian: preparation as medicine

To prepare a gentian root tea, 1-2 g of the finely chopped or powdered drug (1 teaspoon corresponds to about 3.5 g) is poured over with boiling water, and the whole thing is passed through a tea strainer after 5 minutes.

However, gentian root can be mixed with cold water and only briefly boiled. For a cold water extract (macerate), the drug should be steeped in cold water for 8-10 hours.


Preparations containing gentian root should not be taken for gastric acidity (hyperacidity) and known stomach or duodenum ulcers. Such symptoms can worsen by stimulating the production of gastric acid.


How should you store gentians?

Gentian roots should be stored dry and protected from light.

Gentian – synonyms

German plant name: fibre

German synonyms of the plant: Yellow gentian, noble gentian, common gentian, large gentian, common gentian, jasmine root, bitterroot, intestinal root, bitter root, rascal root, Janzen, snack food, sow root, sow root, zigzag root

Latin plant name: Gentiana lutea L.

Latin synonyms of the plant: Asterias lutea, Swertia lutea, Swertia lutea, Vest

German drug name: gentian root

German synonyms of the drug: Anzian root, mountain fever root, bitter root, Istrian root, schnapps root, high root

Latin drug name: Gentian root

Latin synonyms of the drug: Gentian root

English name: Bitterroot (Droge); Gentian, Gentiana, Yellow gentian, Bitterwort (Pflanze)

Plant family Latin: Gentianaceae

Plant family German: Gentian plants


Gentian – effect

The bitter substances contained in the gentian root stimulate the taste buds, leading to reflex stimulation of the flow of saliva and, secondarily, to the stimulation of gastric juice and bile. All this stimulates the appetite and promotes digestion.

Gentian extracts also show antimicrobial and immune-stimulating properties. Animal experiments also indicated that gentian increased the amount of bronchial secretion.

Gentian: side effects and interactions

Occasionally, headaches can occur when using medicines containing gentian root. No other side effects are known.

Interactions with other agents are currently not known.


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