(Gentiana lutea)

Gentian originally comes from meadows in Europe and Turkey. However, it is now also cultivated in North America. The root is used in herbal medicine.

Gentian root and other highly bitter plants have been used for centuries by herbalists in Europe as digestive aids (the well-known Swedish bitters often contain gentian). Other folk uses included topical application on skin tumours, decreasing fevers, and treatment of diarrhoea.

What it does

Gentian is a bitter herb that is one of the most effective gastric stimulants. Gentian contains the glycosides gentiopicrin and amarogentin (the intensely bitter taste of these can be detected even when diluted 50,000 times). These compounds have been shown to stimulate the gustatory receptors in the taste buds, causing a reflex increase in the secretion of saliva, gastric juice and bile. This herb has traditionally been used to improve digestion and stimulate appetite, as well as for a variety of gastrointestinal disorders including dyspepsia, gastritis, heartburn, and nausea. It is anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, antiemetic and encourages red blood cell production.

Potential Uses

Anaemia Bloating Flatulence
Feeling of fullness Incomplete digestion of food Indigestion

Other information

Tinctures of gential appear to have the most efficacy for digestive disorders due to the fact that the taste buds are stimulated as soon as the liquid touches the tongue.


Gentain should be avoided in gastritis, severe heartburn and by people with stomach or duodenal ulcers.

Do not use in pregnancy or when breastfeeding.

If you are taking insulin check with your doctor before using gentian.

Generally, there are no side effects or contra-indications from using gentian.

At the time of writing there were no well known negative drug interactions with gentian.


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