For thousands of years, gentian has been used as a traditional remedy for various conditions. Are the claims related to this herb backed up by science? Let us check out some of its potential benefits based on research.
What are the Potential Benefits of Gentian?
- Helps improve digestive, liver, and gallbladder function
- Helps fight oxidative stress and chronic disease
- Can help lower inflammation and pain
- Helps treat wounds and infections (including sinus infections)
- Supports the nervous system
Gentian root promotes digestive, liver, and gallbladder health.
In fact, this herb has been traditionally used to improve digestive functions. It has been used as a gastric stimulant because of its effects on enzyme, bile, and saliva secretion. (1)
Also, some studies supported that gentian can stimulate enzyme excretion in the small intestines. It may also promote gastric secretion, resulting in easier food break down and nutrient absorption. (1, 2)
Moreover, gentian has been used as a liver tonic for centuries. With its strong bitter flavour, it has also been used for detoxification. It is traditionally used to treat different conditions, including jaundice, gout, dysentery, and dyspepsia.
It is also claimed that gentian is more effective when combined with rhubarb. Together, they may improve digestive symptoms, like nausea and appetite loss.
One study showed that administering 600 mg of gentian to patients daily aided in improving symptoms. These included vomiting, appetite loss, constipation, flatulence, heartburn, nausea, and abdominal pain. (1)
Gentian may also be effective in fighting chronic diseases and oxidative stress.
This root has antioxidant elements that could help protect cells from oxidative stress. It has active compounds that can protect from infections, decrease artery, and blood vessel damages. (1)
Moreover, its compounds have anti-inflammatory properties. They seem to have a positive effect on the digestive, respiratory, and cardiovascular systems.
For instance, isovitexin is claimed to be an anti-atherosclerotic agent. It helps protect vascular smooth muscle tissue. Plus, it can increase nitric oxide activity. (1)
It could also be effective in treating and preventing arteriosclerosis. This is the condition characterised by the thickening and hardening of the arteries. It is also claimed that gentian can lower blood pressure.
Furthermore, gentian can help lower pain and inflammation.
Its active compounds are shown to combat inflammation. Also, it may regulate the brain’s pain pathways, which can relieve discomfort.
It could also help decrease autoimmune reactions and antibodies that can cause weakness, fatigue, and joint pain. (1)
Also, gentian could improve circulation, dilate blood vessels, and administer healing. Therefore, it is used to cure muscle spasms, stomach pains, menstrual discomfort, and migraines.
Gentian has a compound called erythricine. It is suggested to have muscle relaxant and sedative effects. It could also slow down the heart rate and decrease blood pressure as a result of stress or pain. (1)
This root may help cure wounds and even infections. Gentian is used to treat fungal infections and different kinds of wounds. It could eliminate harmful bacteria and improve the blood flow to damaged tissues or wounds.
Several studies discovered that gentian has antifungal and antimicrobial properties. It can be combined with other herbs, like sorrel, verbena, and elderberry, to form Sinupret. This formula could help cure sinus infections. (1)
This root can help support the nervous system too. Gentian is known to act as a sedative and relaxes muscle tension. It also helps combat fatigue.
Animal studies showed that gentian contains secoiridoid compounds. They are thought to lessen muscular fatigue and increase endurance. (1)
Gentian can also be combined with licorice root to support the nervous system. This herb has long been used as a remedy for coughs and colds, stress-related symptoms, and fatigue. Licorice can help gentian to be more effective.
These studies about gentian root need more backups. Before using it as a remedy for any disease, consider asking your doctor first.
What is Gentian?
Gentian is part of Gentianeceae, a huge plant family with 180 species. Its scientific name is Gentiana lutea L, and is known by other names like bitterwort, feltwort, bitter root, and pale gentian.
This plant is native to southern Europe, particularly to the Alps and Himalayas. Now, wild gentian is scarce, but it is cultivated by European growers for agricultural and pharmaceutical uses.
It was named after the Illyrian king, Gentius, who discovered the plant and its therapeutic effects. The herb was used as an antidote for poisons and a treatment for wounds.
How Does Gentian Work?
The health benefits of gentian root are associated with the compounds it contains.
Gentian has a number of compounds. However, its most active compounds include gentiopicroside, loganic acid, and swertiamarin. It also contains xanthone glycosides, like gentiopicrin, amarogentin, isogentisin, and gentisin. (1)
Gentiopicroside is believed to be anti-inflammatory and can reduce pain. It is also claimed to have analgesic, anti-parasite, and hepatoprotective effects. Other studies showed that it could be diuretic, sedative-hypnotic, antipyretic, and anti-diabetic. (1, 2)
Meanwhile, the compound amarogentin is responsible for the root’s bitter taste. It can stimulate digestive fluid production. This results in a powerful gastric effect. (1)
Isogentisin is a compound that can help you prevent endothelial injury, like the result of smoking. It also activates cellular repair functions, which supports cell survival. (1)
How Do I Take Gentian?
Gentian is not usually used for culinary purposes. Thus, the best way to consume it is by taking it in a supplement form.
Gentian supplements are available in aperitifs, capsule, extract, infusion, powder, and tincture forms.
Occasionally, gentian root is used to make gentian bitters or as a beer flavouring.
Can I Take Gentian Along with Vitamins and Medicines?
Be careful in taking gentian along with other drugs. This supplement could cause interaction with some medications.
It is not advised to use gentian along with medications for high blood pressure. This root is claimed to decrease blood pressure. Thus, taking it with antihypertensive drugs may result in too low blood pressure.
Some of these medicines include losartan (Cozaar), Amlodipine (Norvasc), captopril (Capoten), and furosemide (Lasix).
See to it that you consult your doctor before planning to supplement with gentian.
Is Gentian Safe?
Generally, gentian is considered safe. Nevertheless, you must be cautious since some gentian poisoning cases have been reported. These were experienced by individuals who have used the root to make tonics or liquors.
Gentian supplementation may have side effects too. These include stomach irritation, increased stomach acidity, skin irritation, headache, diarrhoea, vomiting, and nausea.
In case you experience any side effects, stop supplementation right away. You should also see a doctor if you do not feel better in a day or two.
If you have a gastrointestinal condition, like an ulcer, then gentian root could cause irritation to your digestive system.
In addition, taking gentian might affect your blood sugar and reduce blood pressure. These could result in fainting. Thus, if you are taking drugs for blood pressure, you better speak with your doctor first.
How Will Gentian Benefit Me?
Gentian root may help you protect your health in various ways. It could help support your liver, gallbladder, nervous, and digestive health.
This herb may also help you avoid chronic diseases. This could also be an effective aid for healing wounds and infections.
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