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Gentian or Bitterwort– (Gentiana lutea)


Also known as Yellow Gentian, this flowering plant grows quite tall in alpine and sub-alpine fields. This plant is native to the mountains of central and southern Europe. The root is the portion that contains the medicinal properties of the herb due to its intense bitterness. It was also used as an ingredient in certain types of beer brewing before hops replaced it as the main brewing ingredient.


Key Medicinal Uses

Internally – Gentian is a bitter that is used to stimulate the appetite and the digestive system. It increases the saliva, gastric juices and bile. Emptying of the stomach is sped up. Its use is indicated when there is dyspepsia, lack of appetite or flatulence. Using bitters helps anorexia, debility and exhaustion. The herb can also be used to bring on a late menstrual cycle, to treat fever and to rid one of parasites. It is antiseptic. As a tonic, it strengthens the body system, especially after an exhausting illness.

Externally – Not used externally

Herbs to Combine/Supplement

A decoction can be combined with lemon or orange peel and ginger to make it a little more palatable and to add the digestive aid of ginger.

Parts Used

Root – The dried root and rhizome of this plant are used medicinally.


Like any other medication, let your health professional know if you are pregnant or nursing before taking this herb. If you have stomach or intestinal ulcers, or have an irritable stomach, do not take. If you have any of the following side effects, stop taking gentian immediately: difficulty breathing, tightness in the chest or throat, chest pain, hives, rash, itchy or swollen skin. Another side effect that you may experience if you are sensitive is headache.

Preparation and Dosage

A decoction can be made by placing ½ of a teaspoonful of shredded root into 1 cup of water and boiling for 5 minutes. Drink the decoction while warm 15 to 30 minutes before eating, or anytime you feel uncomfortably over full. If using a tincture, 1 to 2 ml of tincture three times per day is the usual dosage.

Gentian Herbal Remedies Top