Gentian, one of the “bitter” herbs, has been used by herbalists for over 2,000 years to help stimulate liver function. It was named as a tribute to Gentius, an Illyrian king who was believed to have discovered that the herb had tonic properties. He used the herb for treating wounds and as a natural antidote for various types of poisons. Traditional folk healers believed that gentian root could improve the digestive process by stimulating the flow of saliva, bile, and stomach acids if you took the herb before your meal. During the Middle Ages, it was used as an antidote to certain poisons.
Today, it is used specifically to protect the liver, stimulate its function, help regenerate its cells, and increase the flow of bile. It is also known to inhibit the development of viruses that affect the liver. This should come as no surprise for herbalists, as gentian has been used for centuries to stimulate appetite, improve overall digestion, and treat a host of gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea, heartburn, stomach aches, and vomiting.
Gentian is also helpful in improving the overall health of the kidneys. It helps with the detoxification process by aiding in the elimination of harmful substances from the body. The root itself also has antiseptic properties which help with the removal of harmful microorganisms that can be found in the digestive system. In fact, the herb has even been used to help eliminate parasitic worms in the intestines.
The herb isn’t only considered helpful for digestive and liver issues either. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, gentian is often used in Europe to treat anemia by stimulating the digestive system to more easily absorb iron and other nutrients. According to A. Kusar’s article in “Human and Experimental Toxicology,” gentian root also contains substantial antioxidant properties that can help your body fight off scavenging free radicals. In addition, the root has been used to speed up illness recovery time because of its ability to increase energy levels and help activate the function of many of the body’s systems.
The root is used to help treat cold and fever and provide sore throat relief. It can also be used to treat muscle spasms, headaches, convulsions, and delirium. In traditional herbal medicine, it is used to treat physical and mental exhaustion.
If you have issues with poor circulation, this herb may be helpful for you as well, as it can invigorate the blood and improve circulation to all parts of the body. It is also used to help with fatigue issues, with some people reporting that they feel less sluggish after use. Overall, gentian purifies and is said to strengthen the entire human system.
Interestingly enough, gentian isn’t only a medicinal herb. You can find it in some foods and beverages, in some anti-smoking products, and also as an ingredient in cosmetics.
Gentian root has a variety of uses, including being used as:
Gentian root supplements can be found in tea, extract, tincture and powder forms. However, it’s important to note that gentian is a “medicinal” herb and should not be used for longer than three weeks at a time, as it will eventually over-stimulate the body. A rest of two weeks is enough before it can be used again.