History: The Gentian herbs are an extensive group of about 180 different plants. They grow throughout all climates including, though they prefer temperate regions and high mountains. In South America and New Zealand, the prevailing color of the flower is red. In Europe the color of the flower is predominantly blue, although it can also be yellow or white The name of the genus is derived from Gentius, an ancient King of Illyria, who, according to Pliny and Dioscorides, discovered the medicinal value of these plants. Native Americans used Blue Gentian as an infusion, applied externally, to relieve back pain.
Modern Uses: The Commission E approved the internal use of gentian root for digestive disorders, such as loss of appetite, fullness, and flatulence.
The British Herbal Compendium approves gentian for lack of appetite, anorexia, atonic dyspepsia, gastrointestinal atony, and as a tonic and anti-emetic. The German Standard License for gentian root tea indicates its use for digestive problems, such as insufficient production of gastric juice. ESCOP indicates its use for anorexia following illness and dyspepsia.
Active Ingredients: Bitter principles including gentiopicrin and amarogentine, pectin, tannin, mucilage, sugar
Actions: Bitter, gastric stimulant, sialagogue, cholagogue, anti-microbial, emmenagogue, hepatic, tonic
Complementary Herbs: ginger, cardamon