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WALA Plant Library
Gentian

Synonyms: Bitterroot, Bitterwort, Gentian Root, Yellow Gentian, Felwort
Scientific Name: Gentiana lutea L.
Family: Gentianaceae

Habitat

Lime soils of the Alpine and sub-alpine pastures of central and southern Europe.

Constituents

Bitter glycosides, particularly gentiopicrin and amarogentin, essential oil.

Description

People usually associate Gentian with small blue flowers nestling between the mountain rocks. However, the species Gentiana lutea used as medicinal herb has golden yellow flowers and, unlike many of its blue relatives, towers above the mountain pastures with a stately height of up to 1.80 meters. The sturdy plant, with its hollow stem bearing large, prominently-veined leaves and its imposing, wheel-shaped inflorescences, used to be regarded as a bothersome weed by the mountain farmers. They were so successful in eradicating it that today Yellow Gentian is a strictly protected plant. The perennial plant only flowers after it has reached an advanced age, usually after 5 to 7 years, sometimes not until after 10 years, and then from July to August. It connects with the earth via a long, thick rootstock which can weigh up to 7 kg.

Uses

The root is used medicinally because of its bitter principles which help to relieve numerous gastrointestinal problems. For example, it is used to treat poor appetite, digestive problems with insufficient secretion of gastric juices, impaired gastric emptying, flatulence, gastrointestinal cramping and atony and impaired bile secretion.

Interesting facts

The name Gentian is said to derive from Gentius, King of Illyria (died 167 B.C.), who is reputed to have discovered the medicinal value of Gentian and recommended it for the treatment of plague.

The bitter glycoside amarogentin contained in Yellow Gentian is the most bitter natural substance known. Mountain farmers in the Alpine regions used to place Gentian root in their shoes to combat weak, sweating feet. In veterinary medicine Yellow Gentian is also called "appetite powder". The name speaks for itself.

Gentian root also played an important role in mythology. In the Middle Ages it was used for numerous incantations and rituals, often in place of mandrake which was very expensive in those days. In general, Yellow Gentian is considered a symbol of power and strength. In the Tyrol there is a saying: "Wia die Enzianwurz is koani so stark." – No-one is as strong as the Gentian root.

Use in Skin Care and Remedies

Dried and ground Gentian root is contained in Dr.Hauschka Silk Body Powder, together with Oak bark and Sage leaves. This composition has deodorant action and prevents excessive sweating.

In WALA medicines, extracts of Yellow Gentian root are contained in remedies for digestive disorders and weak digestion, gastrointestinal problems, nausea and vomiting. Gentian Stomach Tonic*, which stimulates the appetite, and Bitter Elixir*, which promotes digestion, are prepared without alcohol. As Gentian Stomach Tonic is also sugar-free, it is recommended after treatment to eradicate Candida from the intestine.

Gentiana comp. Pellets* relieve weak digestion, nausea, vomiting and flatulence. The handy Gentiana comp. pellets and Bolus alba comp.*, which relieves diarrhoea and dyspepsia, are a must in any travel first aid kit.

Prescribing information

* Prescribing information for the preparations mentioned (the indications are derived from the anthroposophical understanding of man and nature):

Bitter Elixier

Aqueous total extract from gentian root, ginger root, calamus root, peppercorns and wormwood
Stimulation of the peptic digestive activity through harmonisation of the motor and secretory processes, e.g. lack of appetite, feeling of fullness, nausea. Note for diabetics: 1 tablespoon (15 ml) syrup is equivalent to 0.4 BU. Contains sucrose (saccharose/sugar).

Bolus alba comp., Pulver

Harmonisation of the metabolic processes in the digestive system in disturbances of secretion and motility of the gastrointestinal tract, e.g. diarrhoea, vomiting. Contains glucose and lactose.

Enzian Magentonikum

Aqueous total extract from gentian root, ginger root, calamus root, peppercorns, wormwood
Stimulation of the peptic digestive activity through harmonisation of the motor and secretory processes, e.g. lack of appetite, feeling of fullness, nausea.

Gentiana Magen Globuli velati

Harmonisation of motility and secretion in digestive disorders of the gastrointestinal tract, e.g. digestive weakness, nausea, vomiting, flatulence. Contains sucrose (saccharose/sugar).

For information on risks and side-effects please read the pack insert and ask your doctor or pharmacist.