Tuesday, August 29, 2017 by Frances Bloomfield
Gentian (Gentiana lutea), also known as bitter root, is an herbacious, perennial, flowering plant that grows on the soils of grassy highland climates. Its name is a tribute to the Illyrian Gentius, who is believed to have discovered the plant’s tonic properties. Gentius was said to have utilized his namesake plant as a treatment for wounds and as an antidote for various poisons. In the millennia since the beneficial medicinal properties of its roots and rhizomes were uncovered, gentian has held a firm place in Eastern and European herbal medicine systems.
Gentian root is known to contain the bitter glycosides amarogentin, gentiin, sweitamarin, gentiamarin, and gentiopicrin. In addition to protecting the root from animals through their intense flavors, the bitter glycosides of gentian are purported to make it incredibly effective as a stomach tonic. The bitterness not only improves the appetite and promotes the secretion of digestive juices, it boosts the flow of bile as well.
Many other medicinal constituents can be found in gentian. These include the alkaloids gentianine and gentialutine, triterpenes, volatile oils, and the xanthones gentisein and gentisin.
Throughout its history, gentian has been used to provide relief from such health ailments as:
One of the most frequent applications of gentian is as a treatment for digestive disorders like indigestion and bloating. The intense taste of gentian stimulates bitter taste receptors that increase the amount of digestive juices in the body, including pancreatic enzymes, stomach acid, and bile. This results in decreased instances of the aforementioned conditions. As a result, however, gentian should be avoided by individuals suffering from chronic gastrointestinal issues, such as peptic ulcers or excessive stomach acid.
The boost in stomach acid production means that the body is able to better absorb nutrients from food, iron included. Furthermore, gentian encourages the production of red blood cells and leucocytes. Both of these actions make gentian ideal for preventing anemia.
Due to the positive effects gentian has upon the liver and kidneys, it can be thought of as a better-than-average preventative measure against malaria. This is because a weak liver and kidneys greatly increase the risk of developing this disease.
Frequent use of gentian is believed to benefit:
Gentian is good for the liver since it boosts the production and flow of bile, as well as aid the liver in regenerating its cells. The numerous medicinal properties of gentian — which range from antibacterial to antiviral to anti-fungal — contribute towards the overall health of this organ.
The aforementioned medicinal properties make gentian just as effective in keeping the skin healthy, particularly if there are wounds. In addition to reducing the chances of infection, the anti-inflammatory property of gentian speeds up the healing process.
Gentian can be purchased in the form of tea, tincture, powder, and even chips.
To enhance the efficacy of gentian, and to add a more personal touch, interested persons may use gentian to create bitters. These are simply bitter, aromatic herbs and spices infused in spirits and intended to serve as home remedies. Zachary Feldman, owner of a small batch bitters company, came up with a homemade bitters recipe that features gentian alongside sweet and spicy ingredients like clove and muscovado syrup.
Gentian is an incredibly bitter herb that can protect the liver, kidney, and the skin. Moreover, its potent medicinal constituents can provide relief from digestive disorders, anemia, and sinusitis. Individuals struggling with gastrointestinal issues should avoid gentian due to its ability to stimulate digestive juice production, however.
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