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(Last edited: Thursday, 5 October 2023, 9:55 PM)



Gentian illustrationAlso Known As:

Bitter Root, Bitterwort, Gall Weed, Geneciana, Gentianae Radix, Gentiane, Gentiane Acaule, Gentiane Jaune, Gentiane Pâle, Gentiane Sans Tige, Gentiane Sauvage, Grande Gentiane, Pale Gentian, Racine Amère, Stemless Gentian, Yellow Gentian, Wild Gentian.

CAUTION: See separate listings for Canadian Hemp and Jimson Weed.


Scientific Name: Gentiana lutea; Gentiana acaulis, synonym Gentiana kochiana.

Family: Gentianaceae.


People Use This For:

Orally, gentian is used for digestive disorders, such as loss of appetite, fullness, flatulence, diarrhea, gastritis, heartburn, and vomiting. It is used orally for fever; hysteria; hypertension; and stimulating menstrual flow; and as an antispasmodic, anthelmintic, and antiseptic.

Topically, gentian is used for treating wounds and cancer.In combination with European elder flower, verbena, cowslip flower, and sorrel, gentian is used orally for maintaining healthy sinuses and treating 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.



LIKELY SAFE ...when the root preparations are used in amounts commonly found in foods. Gentian root has Generally Recognized As Safe status (GRAS) for use in foods in the US (3).

POSSIBLY SAFE ...when gentian root is used orally in a specific combination that contains gentian root, elderflower, verbena, cowslip flower, and sorrel

(SinuComp, Sinupret) (1, 2).

There is insufficient reliable information available about the safety of the topical use of gentian.

PREGNANCY AND LACTATION: There is insufficient reliable information available about the safety of gentian in medicinal amounts during pregnancy and lactation; avoid using.




Sinusitis. Taking gentian orally in a specific combination product that also contains elderflower, verbena, cowslip flower, and sorrel (SinuComp, Sinupret) seems to help treat acute or chronic sinusitis Clinical studies have used Sinupret (1, 2).

There is insufficient reliable information available about the effectiveness of gentian for its other uses.


Mechanism of Action:

The applicable parts of gentian are the root and bark. The root is most commonly used. Gentian root contains triterpenoids, xanthones, and other constituents (5, 6). Preliminary research suggests gentian root has sedative effects. The xanthone gentiacaulein seems to have antidepressant activity, possibly through inhibition of monoamine oxidase (MAO)-A (6). Preliminary research suggests that gentian bark extracts might have MAO-B inhibitor effects (7).

Gentian root has been used historically as an antihypertensive. Gentian root extracts seem to have vasorelaxant properties (8, 10). Preliminary research

suggests that the xanthone constituents gentiacaulein and gentiakochianin may be responsible for vasodilation by an unknown mechanism (9).


Adverse Reactions:

Orally, gentian root in combination with other herbs can cause gastrointestinal adverse effects and allergic skin reactions (1, 2).


Interactions with Herbs & Supplements:

HERBS AND SUPPLEMENTS WITH HYPOTENSIVE EFFECTS: Gentian is thought to have hypotensive effects. Theoretically, combining gentian with other herbs and supplements with hypotensive effects might increase the risk of hypotension. Some of these herbs and supplements include andrographis, casein peptides, cat's claw, coenzyme Q-10, fish oil, L-arginine, lycium, stinging nettle, theanine, and others.


Interactions with Drugs:


Interaction Rating = Moderate Be cautious with this combination.

Severity = Moderate • Occurrence = Possible • Level of Evidence = D

Theoretically, concurrent use might increase risk of hypotension with drugs that lower blood pressure (8, 10). These include captopril (Capoten), enalapril (Vasotec), losartan (Cozaar), valsartan (Diovan), diltiazem (Cardizem), Amlodipine (Norvasc), hydrochlorothiazide (HydroDiuril), furosemide (Lasix), and many others.


Interactions with Foods:

None known.


Interactions with Lab Tests:

None known.


Interactions with Diseases or Conditions:

HYPOTENSION: Theoretically, gentian use might worsen hypotension or interfere with drug therapy to increase blood pressure (8, 10).

SURGERY: Gentian might affect blood pressure. Theoretically, gentian might interfere with blood pressure control during and after surgical procedures. Tell

patients to discontinue gentian at least 2 weeks before elective surgical procedures.


Dosage/Administration: chronic

ORAL: For acute or sinusitis, a specific combination product (SinuComp Phytopharmica) containing gentian root 12 mg and 36 mgeach of European

elder flower, verbena, sorrel, and cowslip flower has been used three times daily (1, 2).

TOPICAL: No typical dosage.


Editor's Comments:

The highly toxic white hellebore (Veratrum album) can be misidentified as gentian and has caused accidental poisoning when used in home-made preparations (4).

Gentian root is unrelated to the gentian violet dye (methylrosaniline chloride).


Specific References: Ginseng

1. 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. 1994;1:177-81.

2. 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.

3. Electronic Code of Federal Regulations. Title 21. Part 182 -- Substances Generally Recognized As Safe. Available at: 786bafc6f6343634fbf79fcdca7061e1&rgn=div5&view= text&node=21:

4. 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.

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

6. 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.

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

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

9. Chericoni S, Testai L, Calderone V, et al. The xanthones gentiacaulein and gentiakochianin are responsible for the vasodilator action of the roots of 144 Gentiana kochiana. Planta Med 2003;69:770-2.

10. 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.

  (Gentianaceae). J Ethnopharmacol 2002;79:369-72.

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