Legend has it that the king of Illyria Genzio, who also gave the plant its name, first understood the properties of gentian root in the second century BC and gave it to his people to fight the plague. In the year 1000 a pestilence struck the Hungarian people. According to the tradition, also in this case the gentian came to the aid. One night, in fact, King Ladislao had a dream in which he was asked to shoot an arrow into the sky that, falling to the ground, would show him the most appropriate remedy. Ladislao, the next day, did what the dream had suggested. The arrow landed right at the foot of a plant, the gentian. The gentian root was given to the people and thus the pestilence was defeated. In short, the gentian has always been considered a powerful medicine, capable not only of fighting pestilences but also, as the ancients thought, the bites of snakes! Over time, the beneficial action of gentian has been better understood, also thanks to numerous scientific studies dedicated to this plant. Gentian may not be able to defeat plague epidemics but it sure is a healthy remedy for the stomach! So let's try to understand the properties of gentian, how to take it and the side effects.
There are several species of gentian. Here today we talk about the most common, the yellow gentian, scientific name Gentiana lutea. Gentian is a bitter herb with a proven gastroprotective action. In fact, thanks to the presence of flavonoids and bitter principles such as secoiridoids and iridoids, the root of this plant helps in case of stomach problems, such as pain, nausea and swelling, increases motility and gastric secretions. Gentian also stimulates the work of the liver and gallbladder and counteracts inflammation (Mirzaee et al, J Tradit Complement Med, 2017 - Woelfle et al, Int J Mol Sci, 2017). Not only that, gentian is also antioxidant and cholesterol-lowering (Joksic et al, Curr Vasc Pharmacol, 2021). Finally, the root of this plant acts as a diuretic and supports the immune response by increasing the presence of white blood cells (Azman et al, Antioxidants, 2014 - Messegue, Il mio Erbario).
Gentian in case of sinusitis
Gentian is not only useful to improve digestion and fight aerophagia and stomach pain. In fact, the gentian root is anti-inflammatory, increases the action of neutrophils, the white blood cells that represent the line of defense against bacteria and fungi, and also contains principles with a mucolytic action. All these characteristics make gentian a remedy also in case of sinusitis (Passali et al , Acta Otorhinolaryngol Ital., 2015). In fact, there is a well-known remedy for sinusitis that you can find in chemist's shops given by the combination of gentian root, verbena, elderberry, sorrel herb and primrose.
Add two grams of gentian root to a cup of water. Bring everything to a boil and let it simmer for five minutes. Filter and drink one cup a day, on an empty stomach.
Gentian, side effects
Gentian is a beneficial plant but don't abuse it! In fact, excessive use can cause digestive problems and vomiting. Also be careful not to take gentian during pregnancy due to its possible abortive effect (Mirzaee et al, J Tradit Complement Med, 2017). Also avoid if you are taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, NSAIDs, to avoid accentuating problems with the stomach.
Gentian, where to find it
You can easily buy gentian root in herbalist's and chemist's shops. The harvest of gentian root is generally prohibited or severely limited, depending on the area, since the plant is considered a protected species. Therefore, it is always better to go to shops to find gentian, also because the gentian harvest hides a risk if you are not an expert. In fact, gentian can be easily confused with white hellebore, similar to gentian, especially when it is not in bloom, but toxic.