Name: Common centaury
Gentian – Gentianaceae.
Popular names: herb for fever, gastric herb.
Parts used: grass.
Pharmacy name: centaury herb – Centaurii heiba (formerly: Hertoa Centaurii).
Botanical description.This beautiful plant is sometimes difficult to spot, because its flowers fully open only in bright sun. A tetrahedral stem 10-50 cm tall grows from a light tap root. The basal rosette of leaves is difficult to find, since it usually dies off by the time of flowering, and in the vegetative state is hidden in dense grass. Stem leaves are crosswise opposite, oblong-ovate or lanceolate, with prominent longitudinal veins. Numerous flowers are collected in an umbrella-shaped inflorescence formed by separate forked branched branches. The calyx is tubular, with 5 sepals, the corolla has a whitish tube and 5 pinkish limbs; in sunlight, the petals are bent in the form of an asterisk. Blooms from (June) July to September. It grows in light glades in the forest and in wet meadows. Doesn’t happen very often
Collection and preparation. The whole plant, cut above the rosette, is collected, tied in bunches and hung to dry in a ventilated place. Raw materials come to Germany from Morocco, the former Yugoslavia, and Bulgaria.
active substances. The main active ingredients of the herb are the bitter glycosides amarogentin and gentiopicrin. The flowers and stem of the plant are especially rich in them, there are fewer of them in the leaves, so the basal rosette is not cut off during harvesting. In addition, the herb contains flavonoids, sterols, a small amount of pyridine and actinidine alkaloids.
Healing action and application.Centaury herb tea is successfully used for loss of appetite, weakened function of the stomach due to reduced secretion of gastric juice, for violations of gastric emptying, for flatulence, for spasms and lethargy of the stomach and intestines. Bitterness begins to act already upon contact with the mucous membrane of the mouth, as a result of which a useful reflex arises, then, immediately after entering the body, they tone and stimulate the gastrointestinal tract. However, it is necessary to clearly distinguish, as with the use of any pure bitterness, what violations of the stomach are in question. With a dry, poorly digesting (sluggish) stomach, such bitterness as centaury is fully indicated, but with increased acidity, manifested by sour belching, be careful. In this case, mixtures with other medicinal herbs are shown – cumin, fennel, anise, lemon balm, chamomile and peppermint, and if you need a calming effect on the nerves that innervate the stomach, you can add valerian and St. John’s wort to enhance the effect. It should be mentioned that pure bitterness, including centaury, helps to increase blood circulation. This has been proven by Dr. Glatzl using gentian as an example. The centaury has, in addition, a very specific area of application, namely anorexia nervosa – a psychogenically caused lack of appetite in girls. And one more remarkable property of the centaury: tea from it helps with nervous exhaustion, which people who overwork both physically and mentally often complain about, for example, working housewives and mothers of many children. It also helps patients with gallstone disease – “soothes” gallbladder and prevents pain. This medicinal plant is used in the last time as a remedy for migraine. The German National Health Service lists reduced secretion of gastric juice and loss of appetite as a possible area of application for centaury; contraindications are ulcers of the stomach and intestines.
- Centaury tea (this tea works better if it is prepared without brewing): 1 teaspoon with the top of chopped herbs is poured into 1/4 liter of cold water and infused with occasional stirring for 6-10 hours; then strained and heated to a pleasant temperature. Tea is drunk before meals unsweetened. (When taking bitters, it is pointless to try to drown out their taste with sugar. Experience shows that a habit is quickly developed to the bitter taste of centaury.)
Application in folk medicine. Popular wisdom teaches: “The medicine must be bitter, otherwise it is useless.” Bitter drugs are popular. This also applies to the centaury. Tea from this medicinal plant is drunk for stomach diseases. But folk medicine also knows numerous other uses for the centaury: for chlorosis and other types of anemia, liver diseases and obesity, to stop bleeding and for skin rashes, tea or wine from this plant is often consumed.
- Centaury wine: Peppermint and centaury (30 g each) and 1 sliced lemon (with skin) are poured into 1 liter of light Moselle wine and infused for 10 days. Then the wine is filtered and bottled. A glass of this “medicinal wine” is drunk before the main meal, if necessary or regularly. It is believed that it strengthens the body, stimulates appetite, promotes digestion and soothes the gallbladder.
Side effects should not be feared: the bitter taste of raw materials prevents its excessive consumption.