Gentian is a plant genus that includes over 180 different species. These plants live across various regions, though usually in temperate climates and high mountain areas. The flower color varies, with most gentians in Europe being blue while those in New Zealand and South America are typically red. Gentians feature long, thick roots that are collected in autumn with the rhizomes and then dried for use in medicine. The root is very bitter.1 Gentian is available as an alcoholic extract and is typically taken in the form of tea.2
Gentian Uses and Health Benefits
Gentian has long been used to combat exhaustion, especially that caused by various chronic diseases. It also helps fight fever, stimulate menstruation, and treat malaria.2 Yellow gentian, commonly used in Europe, can be used to improve symptoms of jaundice.1 Among gentian benefits, it’s also a strong anthelmintic agent, which means it helps rid the body of parasitic worms and other intestinal parasites.1,2 It may even help in treating sinusitis by reducing mucus in the sinuses.3 Other gentian uses include for:
- Dependent Personality Disorder - Gentian is thought to be a highly effective treatment for individuals with dependent personality disorder.
- Indigestion - Gentian works to stimulate the digestive system by increasing production of saliva, stomach acid, and digestive enzymes.
- Diarrhea - Along with gentian benefits on the digestive system, it may help in reducing diarrhea symptoms.
- Poor Appetite - One of the more prevalent gentian uses is for stimulating appetite by improving digestive system function.
- Anemia - Gentian is a popular herb recommended for individuals with iron-deficiency anemia. It helps treat the condition by stimulating absorption of iron and other important nutrients in the digestive tract.
Gentian Side Effects and Precautions
Gentian side effects can include headache, nausea, or vomiting. Avoid gentian if you are pregnant, have stomach ulcers, or suffer from gastritis.2 Gentian is known to lower blood pressure, so it should not be mixed with other blood pressure medications.4 Individuals with high blood pressure may have a difficult time tolerating gentian supplements, so it’s best to talk to your doctor first.2 In traditional Chinese medicine, individuals who experience chronic pain or frequent urination do not use gentian.4 Talk to your doctor about other herbs and medications you’re taking before starting on a gentian diet to prevent possible interactions.