Gentian

What other names is Gentian known by?

Bitter Root, Bitterwort, Gall Weed, Geneciana, Gentiana acaulis, Gentiana kochiana, Gentiana lutea, Gentianae Radix, Gentiane, Gentiane Acaule, Gentiane Jaune, Gentiane Pâle, Gentiane Sans Tige, Gentiane Sauvage, Grande Gentiane, Pale Gentian, Racine Amère, Stemless Gentian, Yellow Centiyane, Yellow Gentian, Wild Gentian.

What is Gentian?

Gentian is an herb. The root of the plant and, less commonly, the bark are used to make medicine.

Gentian is used for digestion problems such as loss of appetite, fullness, intestinal gas, diarrhea, gastritis, heartburn, and vomiting. It is also used for fever, hysteria, and high blood pressure. Some people use gentian to prevent muscle spasms, treat parasitic worms, start menstrual periods, and as a germ killer.

Gentian is applied to the skin for treating wounds and cancer.

Gentian is used in combination with European elderflower, verbena, cowslip flower, and sorrel for treating symptoms of sinus infections (sinusitis). It is used in combination with other products for malaria.

In foods and beverages, gentian is used as an ingredient.

In manufacturing, gentian is used in cosmetics.

Gentian root is not related to the gentian violet dye (methylrosaniline chloride).

If you plan to make your own gentian preparation, be sure you identify gentian correctly. The highly toxic white hellebore (Veratrum album) can be misidentified as gentian and has caused accidental poisoning when used in homemade preparations.

Is Gentian effective?

There is some scientific evidence that gentian, when combined with other herbs including European elder flower, verbena, cowslip flower, and sorrel, might help for treating symptoms of sinusitis.

There isn't enough information to know if gentian is effective for the other conditions people use it for, including: stomach disorders, diarrhea, fever, heartburn, vomiting, menstrual disorders, cancer, and others.

Possibly Effective for...

  • Symptoms of sinus infection (sinusitis) when combined with other herbs including elderflower, verbena, cowslip flower, and sorrel. Research studies have used a product called Sinupret.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of gentian for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

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How does Gentian work?

Gentian contains a chemical that might dilate blood vessels.

Are there safety concerns?

Gentian seems to be safe for most people when taken by mouth in small amounts as part of a combination product containing gentian root, elderflower, verbena, and cowslip flower (SinuComp, Sinupret). There isn't enough information to know if gentian is safe when used in medicinal amounts other than as part of the combination product. The combination product can cause digestive system upset and occasionally allergic skin rash.

There isn't enough information about the safety of applying gentian to the skin.

The highly toxic white hellebore (Veratrum album) can be mistaken for gentian and has caused accidental poisoning when used in homemade preparations.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the use of gentian during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Low blood pressure: There is a concern that using gentian might make low pressure worse or interfere with drug treatment to increase blood pressure.

Surgery: Because gentian might affect blood pressure, there is a concern that it might interfere with blood pressure control during and after surgery. Stop using gentian at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.

Are there any interactions with medications?



Medications for high blood pressure (Antihypertensive drugs)
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Theoretically, gentian might decrease blood pressure. Taking gentian along with medications for high blood pressure might cause your blood pressure to go too low.

Some medications for high blood pressure include captopril (Capoten), enalapril (Vasotec), losartan (Cozaar), valsartan (Diovan), diltiazem (Cardizem), Amlodipine (Norvasc), hydrochlorothiazide (HydroDiuril), furosemide (Lasix), and many others.

Dosing considerations for Gentian.

The following doses have been studied in scientific research:

BY MOUTH:
  • For new or ongoing swelling of the sinuses (sinusitis): A specific combination product containing 12 mg of gentian root and 36 mg each of European elder flower, verbena, sorrel, and cowslip flower three times daily.
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Last Editorial Review: 3/29/2011

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