Gentian is an herb. The root of the plant and, less commonly, the bark is used to make medicine. It is native to the European Alps at higher elevations. The roots and rhizomes are nearly cylindrical, sometimes branched, and are longitudinally wrinkled. The darker brown roots have a more persistent, bitter taste than the lighter tan roots.
The gentians have been used for centuries as bitters to stimulate the appetite, improve digestion, and to treat a variety of GI complaints such as heartburn, vomiting, stomach ache and diarrhoea. Gentian root gently purifies the blood making it an excellent remedy for all liver problems including enlarged liver. To treat liver problems with gentian root, mix one half teaspoon of the powdered herb in one cup of warm water and drink one hour before meals. If you suffer from poor circulation, gentian root is a wonderful choice. The herb will invigorate the blood and improve circulation to all parts of the body. To improve circulation using gentian root, make a tea according to the instructions above and drink three times daily at least thirty minutes before meals.
It is used as a natural herbal treatment for exhaustion. Gentian is believed to strengthen the entire system by stimulating the digestive function as well as the general circulation and the activity of many glands and organs. Gentian is traditionally used as an herbal treatment for wounds; animal studies have shown it to have a measurable anti-inflammatory and wound-healing effect. Gentian is used internally as a remedy for sore throat and arthritic inflammation. Gentian preparations have been found to most effective if administration precedes mealtimes by about one-half hour. Its activity begins about five minutes after reaching the stomach, as digestive juices begin to flow and the secretion of bile increases.
If you are pregnant or have high blood pressure or chronic gastrointestinal problems, you should use gentian only under the direction of a health-care professional. You should avoid gentian altogether if you have excess stomach acid.