Last Editorial Review: 6/11/2021
Other Name(s):

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.


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.

How does work?

Gentian contains a chemical that might dilate blood vessels.


Common Allergies: Symptoms and Signs See Slideshow


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.

Side Effects

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.


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.


Allergies can best be described as: See Answer


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.


The following doses have been studied in scientific research:


  • 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.

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).

FDA Logo

Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.


Aberham, A., Schwaiger, S., Stuppner, H., and Ganzera, M. Quantitative analysis of iridoids, secoiridoids, xanthones and xanthone glycosides in Gentiana lutea L. roots by RP-HPLC and LC-MS. J Pharm Biomed.Anal 11-5-2007;45(3):437-442. View abstract.

Amin, A. Ketoconazole-induced testicular damage in rats reduced by Gentiana extract. Exp Toxicol Pathol. 2008;59(6):377-384. View abstract.

Borgia, M., Sepe, N., Borgia, R., and Ori-Bellometti, M. Pharmacological activity of a herb extract: a controlled clinical study. Current Therapeutic Research 1981;29:525-536.

Bricout, J. Identification and concentration of the bitter constituents of the roots of Gentiana lutea L. Phytochemistry 1974;13:2819-2823.

Chen, L., Liu, J. C., Zhang, X. N., Guo, Y. Y., Xu, Z. H., Cao, W., Sun, X. L., Sun, W. J., and Zhao, M. G. Down-regulation of NR2B receptors partially contributes to analgesic effects of Gentiopicroside in persistent inflammatory pain. Neuropharmacology 2008;54(8):1175-1181. View abstract.

Citova, I., Ganzera, M., Stuppner, H., and Solich, P. Determination of gentisin, isogentisin, and amarogentin in Gentiana lutea L. by capillary electrophoresis. J Sep.Sci 2008;31(1):195-200. View abstract.

Garnier, R., Carlier, P., Hoffelt, J., and Savidan, A. [Acute dietary poisoning by white hellebore (Veratrum album L.). Clinical and analytical data. A propos of 5 cases]. Ann.Med.Interne (Paris) 1985;136(2):125-128. View abstract.

Hayashi, T. and Yamagishi, T. Two xanthone glycosides from Gentiana lutea. Phytochemistry 1988;27:3696-3699.

Kakuda, R., Machida, K., Yaoita, Y., Kikuchi, M., and Kikuchi, M. Studies on the constituents of Gentiana species. II. A new triterpenoid, and (S)-(+)- and (R)-(-)-gentiolactones from Gentiana lutea. Chem Pharm Bull.(Tokyo) 2003;51(7):885-887. View abstract.

Mathew, A., Taranalli, A. D., and Torgal, S. S. Evaluation of anti-inflammatory and wound healing activity of Gentiana lutea rhizome extract in animals. Pharm.Biol. 2004;42:8-12.

Ozturk, N., Baser, K. H., Aydin, S., Ozturk, Y., and Calis, I. Effects of Gentiana lutea ssp. symphyandra on the central nervous system in mice. Phytother Res 2002;16(7):627-631. View abstract.

Rojas, A., Bah, M., Rojas, J. I., and Gutierrez, D. M. Smooth muscle relaxing activity of gentiopicroside isolated from Gentiana spathacea. Planta Med 2000;66(8):765-767. View abstract.

Schmieder, A., Schwaiger, S., Csordas, A., Backovic, A., Messner, B., Wick, G., Stuppner, H., and Bernhard, D. Isogentisin--a novel compound for the prevention of smoking-caused endothelial injury. Atherosclerosis 2007;194(2):317-325. View abstract.

Schultze, J. and Franz, C. [Formation of bitter phenolic substances and sugar during growth phase of Genitana lutea roots [gentian, flavoring and perfume plant]]. Planta Medica 1978;33:275.

Sticher, O. and Meier, B. Quantitative determination of the bitter principles in the roots of Gentiana lutea and Gentiana purpurea with HPLC [high-pressure liquid chromatography]. Planta Medica 1980;40:55-67.

Suzuki, O., Katsumata, Y., and Oya, M. Inhibition of monoamine oxidase by isogentisin and its 3-O-glucoside. Biochem Pharmacol 1978;27(16):2075-2078. View abstract.

Szucs, Z., Danos, B., and Nyiredy, S. Comparative analysis of the underground parts of Gentiana species by HPLC with diode-array and mass spectrometric detection. Chromatographia 2002;56:S19.

Takino, K., Koshioka, M., and Kawaguchi, M. Quantitative determination of bitter components in gentianaceous plants. Studies on the evaluation of crude drugs. Planta Medica 1980;38:344-350.

VanHaelen, M. and VanHaelen-Fastre, R. Quantitative determination of biologically active constituents in medicinal plant crude extracts by thin-layer chromatography-densitometry. I. Aesculus hippocastaneum L., Arctostaphylos uva-ursi Spreng., Fraxinus excelsior L., Gentiana lutea L., Glyccyrhiza glabra L., Hamamelis virginiana L., Hypericum perforatum L., Olea europea L., Salix alba L., and Silybum marianum Gaertn. J Chromatogr 1983;281:263-271.

Wang, C. H., Cheng, X. M., Bligh, S. W., White, K. N., Branford-White, C. J., and Wang, Z. T. Pharmacokinetics and bioavailability of gentiopicroside from decoctions of Gentianae and Longdan Xiegan Tang after oral administration in rats--comparison with gentiopicroside alone. J Pharm Biomed.Anal 9-3-2007;44(5):1113-1117. View abstract.

Wang, C. H., Wang, Z. T., Bligh, S. W., White, K. N., and White, C. J. Pharmacokinetics and tissue distribution of gentiopicroside following oral and intravenous administration in mice. Eur J Drug Metab Pharmacokinet. 2004;29(3):199-203. View abstract.

Baragatti B, Calderone V, Testai L, et al. Vasodilator activity of crude methanolic extract of Gentiana kokiana Perr. et Song. (Gentianaceae). J Ethnopharmacol 2002;79:369-72. View abstract.

Chericoni S, Testai L, Calderone V, et al. The xanthones gentiacaulein and gentiakochianin are responsible for the vasodilator action of the roots of Gentiana kochiana. Planta Med 2003;69:770-2. View abstract.

Electronic Code of Federal Regulations. Title 21. Part 182 -- Substances Generally Recognized As Safe. Available at:

Haraguchi H, Tanaka Y, Kabbash A, et al. Monoamine oxidase inhibitors from Gentiana lutea. Phytochemistry 2004;65:2255-60. View abstract.

Marz RW, Ismail C, Popp MA. Action profile and efficacy of a herbal combination preparation for the treatment of sinusitis. Wien Med Wochenschr 1999;149:202-8. View abstract.

Neubauer N, Marz RW. Placebo-controlled, randomized, double-blind, clincal trial with Sinupret sugar coated tablets on the basis of a therapy with antibiotics and decongestant nasal drops in acute sinusitis. Phytomedicine 1994;1:177-81.

Tomic M, Tovilovic G, Butorovic B, et al. Neuropharmacological evaluation of diethylether extract and xanthones of Gentiana kochiana. Pharmacol Biochem Behav 2005;81:535-42. View abstract.

Toriumi Y, Kakuda R, Kikuchi M, et al. New triterpenoids from Gentiana lutea. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo) 2003;51:89-91. View abstract.

Uncini Manganelli RE, Chericoni S, Baragatti B. Ethnopharmacobotany in Tuscany: plants used as antihypertensives. Fitoterapia 2000;71:S95-100. View abstract.

Zagler B, Zelger A, Salvatore C, et al. Dietary poisoning with Veratrum album--a report of two cases. Wien Klin Wochenschr 2005;117:106-8. View abstract.