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Gentian

( Gentiana lutea )

 

Family

Gentianaceae

 

Synonyms

Bitterwort, Sampson's snakeroot

 

Character

Alterative, carminative, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, bitter, cholagogue, stomachic, tonic

 

Description

While several species of the gentian family are found in North America, several varieties have also been located in the tropical regions of South America. Gentian species usually consist of a perennial plant which produces large yellow flowers. It is these yellow flowers which are traditionally associated with the plant's ability to stimulate bile flow from the liver and gall bladder. Gentian root is a well-known bitter tonic in annals of western herbal medicine.

 

Phytochemistry

The plant contains tannins, phenols of various types, ethereal oils, ornaic acids, amarogentin and bitter iridoid glycosides, gentiopicrin ( responsible for its bitter properties), and possibly some alkaloids and flavonoids in certain varieties. The root also contains various alkaloids which are responsible for its pharmacology.

 

Traditional rain forest use

The peoples of the upper regions of Apaporis use powdered forms of the chelonanthus plant, a member of the gentian family, as an insect repellant. The Kubeos tribe makes a tea of chelonanthus roots to relieve food poisoning and stomach distress, as well as with the nasal congestion. The pagaea variety of the plant is used by the natives of La Pedrera as a tea for senile dementia or geriatric memory loss.

 

Modern medicinal applications

Today, gentian is used as a natural appetite stimulant, a stomachic, and for liver ailments such as jaundice. It is believed to stimulate pancreatic secretions, making it a valuable herb for diabetics. Gentian tonics have been used for their ability to stimulate bile and normalize liver function. Gentian can also improve digestion by boosting the production of digestion enzymes. Gentian seeds have significant anti-inflammatory properties.

 

Authentication

German scientists have been actively studying the gentian root and have confirmed its ability to stimulate the flow of bile which is conducive to proper digestion and the assimilation of nutrients. These studies have supported its traditional use for stomach problems in that it has been found to boost digestive secretions, enhance the breakdown of fats and proteins, and to prevent heartburn.

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