Medically Reviewed on 7/14/2023

Generic Name: centaury

Brand and Other Names: bitter clover, bitterbloom, Centaurium umbellatum, Christ's ladder, Centaurium erythraea, feverwort, wild succory

Drug Class: Herbals

What is centaury, and what is it used for?

Centaury is the common name of Centaurium erythraea, a medicinal plant that grows all over Europe, Southwest Asia and North Africa. Tea made from the dried aerial parts and liquid extracts of the herb has traditionally been used as an herbal remedy for indigestion, loss of appetite, fever, high blood pressure and many other conditions. There are, however, no scientific studies to back any of centaury’s purported benefits. Centaury is also used as a flavoring in foods and beverages.

Centaury is believed to have antimicrobial, gastro-protective, pain-relieving (analgesic), anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antitumor properties. Studies show the beneficial effects of centaury may be from the bioactive substances it contains including phenolic compounds, secoiridoid glycosides such as gentiopicroside, sweroside, swertiamarin, xanthones such as di-hydroxy-dimethoxyxanthone, and quercetin, a flavonoid.

The suggested uses of centaury include:


  • Do not take centaury if you have any of the following conditions, it may aggravate the condition:
  • Do not take centaury if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

What are the side effects of centaury?

Side effects of centaury may include:

  • Mild abdominal discomfort
  • Mild cramps

Call your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms or serious side effects while using this drug:

  • Serious heart symptoms include fast or pounding heartbeats, fluttering in your chest, shortness of breath, and sudden dizziness;
  • Severe headache, confusion, slurred speech, severe weakness, vomiting, loss of coordination, feeling unsteady;
  • Severe nervous system reaction with very stiff muscles, high fever, sweating, confusion, fast or uneven heartbeats, tremors, and feeling like you might pass out; or
  • Serious eye symptoms include blurred vision, tunnel vision, eye pain or swelling, or seeing halos around lights.

This is not a complete list of all side effects or adverse reactions that may occur from the use of this drug. Call your doctor for medical advice about serious side effects or adverse reactions. You may also report side effects or health problems to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.


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What are the dosages of centaury?

There isn’t enough scientific information to know what might be an appropriate dose of centaury. Suggested dosing:


  • Steep 2-4 g in 150 mL boiling water
  • 1 cup of tea orally three times daily

Crushed Herb

  • 2-4 g orally three times daily
  • Average daily dose 6 g/day

Liquid extract (1:1 in 25% alcohol)

  • 2-4 mL orally three times daily


There is no information on overdose of centaury. Overdose may possibly intensify the herb’s gastrointestinal side effects, which should resolve with discontinuation of centaury.

What drugs interact with centaury?

Inform your doctor of all medications you are currently taking, who can advise you on any possible drug interactions. Never begin taking, suddenly discontinue, or change the dosage of any medication without your doctor’s recommendation.

  • Centaury has no known severe, serious, moderate, or mild interactions with other drugs.

The drug interactions listed above are not all of the possible interactions or adverse effects. For more information on drug interactions, visit the RxList Drug Interaction Checker.

It is important to always tell your doctor, pharmacist, or health care provider of all prescription and over-the-counter medications you use, as well as the dosage for each, and keep a list of the information. Check with your doctor or health care provider if you have any questions about the medication.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

  • Small amounts of centaury used to flavor foods and beverages is likely safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding. 
  • Do not take any herbal supplement, including centaury without first checking with your healthcare provider, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

What else should I know about centaury?

  • Centaury is likely safe if consumed in small quantities found in food. There isn’t any reliable information on the safety of orally taking medicinal doses of centaury.
  • If you do take centaury medicinally, follow label instructions exactly. Natural products are not necessarily safe always and following suggested dosing is important.
  • Check with your healthcare provider before taking any herbal product, including centaury, particularly if you have any health conditions or if you are on any regular medication.
  • Herbal products often contain many ingredients. Check labels for the components in the centaury product you choose.
  • Centaury is marketed as an herbal product and is not regulated by the FDA. Products may differ in formulations and strengths, and labels may not always match contents. Some products may be contaminated. Exercise care in choosing your product.
  • Store centaury products safely out of reach of children.
  • In case of overdose and persistent symptoms, seek medical help or contact Poison Control.


Centaury is the common name of Centaurium erythraea, a medicinal plant that grows all over Europe, Southwest Asia and North Africa. Tea made from the dried aerial parts and liquid extracts of the herb has traditionally been used as an herbal remedy for indigestion, loss of appetite, fever, high blood pressure and many other conditions. Side effects of centaury may include mild abdominal discomfort and mild cramps. Consult your doctor if pregnant or breastfeeding.

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Medically Reviewed on 7/14/2023