Gentian – Gentianaceae.
Common name: bitter root.
Parts used: root.
Pharmacy name: gentian root – Gentianae radix (formerly: Radix Gentianae), gentian tincture – Gentianae tinctura (formerly: Tinctura Gentianae), gentian extract – Gentianae extractum (formerly: Extractum Gentianae).
Botanical description.We give a description of yellow gentian, since it was this species that has been most used as a medicinal plant since ancient times. Not so long ago, for peasants in mountainous areas, it was a malicious weed that had to be fought. At present, this slender plant, reaching a height of about 1 m, has been so severely exterminated that it is under strict protection. The stem of the yellow gentian is hairless, hollow, bears opposite large elliptical bluish-green leaves with a well-defined arc venation; the petioles of the leaves become shorter as they move from the base of the stem to the top. The plant is perennial, with a longish powerful root. Only a few years later it forms yellow flowers, grouped in false whorls. Blooms in July-August (September).
Active ingredients: bitters (mainly gentiopicrin and the recently discovered very valuable bitterness amarogentin), some tannins and an essential oil.
Healing action and application.Medicinal raw material – gentian root containing bitterness. Other components are of subordinate importance. The content of tannins is insignificant, which is very important for the use of gentian as a gastric tonic, since there is no undesirable irritant effect. Loss of appetite, insufficient secretion of gastric juice, bloating, also spasms and lethargy of the stomach and intestines can be successfully treated with gentian tea or ready-made gentian drops. Gentian, in addition, enhances the secretion of bile. Bitterness acts, on the one hand, in contact with the oral mucosa, causing healing reflexes, on the other hand, after absorption by the body. When using gentian, it is necessary to distinguish which function of the stomach is impaired. With a sluggish stomach that secretes little juice, gentian is just the remedy which is necessary; but with a stomach that is sensitive to irritation with high acidity, it cannot be used. In these cases, lemon balm, cumin, navel, anise or fennel are better suited. The German National Health Service interprets gentian root as a proven remedy for stimulating appetite and for diseases of the stomach with insufficient formation of gastric juice. There are contraindications for ulcers of the stomach and intestines.
- Gentian tea: 1 teaspoon of chopped root pour 1/4 liter of water and boil for 5 minutes / Drink tea before breakfast, lunch and dinner very warm.
Another cooking method, in which the final product contains not so much bitterness and has no tannins at all (thus, softer in action), is infusion without boiling, which lasts over 8-10 hours (with the same initial amount of roots and water) . An interesting statement by Dr. Glatzl is that gentian increases blood circulation.
Use in homeopathy. Homeopathic remedy Gentiana lutea is prepared from fresh roots, prescribed in dilutions D 1 -D 1 in the absence of appetite, a feeling of fullness in the stomach and with reduced digestive function. Take as needed 10 drops, or several times every day, 3-5 drops.
Application in folk medicine.Diseases of the stomach, intestines, liver and gallbladder are the main areas of application of gentian in folk medicine. This has been known since the time of Hippocrates (V-GU centuries BC), the same indications are contained in Dioscorides and Pliny. Galen recommended gentian also for rheumatism and gout. These indications were adopted by medieval doctors, and their knowledge was adopted by folk herbalists. In the herbalist Hieronymus Bock (1557) we read: “The most commonly used root in Germany is gentian … No better gastric medicine is known than gentian. Whatever heaviness is felt in the body and stomach, it is expelled by gentian, calamus or ginger …” Sebastian Kneipp was also of the opinion that one who had sage, wormwood, cumin, and gentian at his disposal had practically all the necessary pharmacy.
Side effects. At this dosage, side effects are traditionally not to be feared, but people with very high blood pressure, with ulcers of the stomach and intestines, and pregnant women should refrain from using gentian. When using gentian drops (tincture), the recommended maximum dose is 35 drops. There are people who have a headache from bitterness (due to an allergic reaction). They should avoid any medicinal plants that are bitter or bitter aromatic in taste, and therefore avoid gentian tea.