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Gentiana lutea

Gentiana lutea


No documentation

Vernacular Name

Bitter root, bitterwort, gentian


Fuchs first documented Gentiana lutea in the 16th century. The Latin name Gentiana refers to the  king of Labeatians. It has been used as a stomach tonic for hundreds of years.

The plant grows to an average of one to two meters tall and contains elliptic leaves approximately 20cm long. The flowers are light yellow in color. Each plant can grow for up to 60 years.

Origin / Habitat

G. lutea is native to Europe in the Central and Eastern sections of the continent. The plant thrives in areas such as plains and pastures and also requires full sunlight.

Chemical Constituents

G. lutea root contains: alkaloids including 0.5-0.8% gentianine and gentialutine; secoiridoid bitter substances including 2-3% gentiopicroside, swertiamarin and sweroside; the acylglycoside amarogentin; xanthones including gentisin, isogentisin; gentioside, saccharose; trisaccharide; 5-8% gentiobiose.[1]

Plant Part Used


Medicinal Uses


Dyspepsia and gastrointestinal disturbances

Appetite stimulant



Most Frequently Reported Uses

Dyspepsia and gastrointestinal disturbances

Appetite stimulant



Dosage Range 

Infusion: Place 1-2gm dried, comminuted root in 240mL (1 cup) hot water. Steep for 10-15min and drink 3-4 times daily as needed.

Dry extract: 240mg, 2-3 times daily, 1 hour before meals

Tincture (1:5w/v): 1mL, 1-3 times daily

Liquid extract (1:1w/v): 1mL, 2-4 times daily

Note: Liquid doses recommended for appetite stimulation; if symptoms persist for more than 2 weeks, seek medical advice.

Most Common Dosage

Dry extract 200mg 2 times daily.

Standardization Dosage

No standardization known.



G. lutea is traditionally used as a digestive tonic to help support a healthy gastrointestinal tract, although little research exists in this area.[2] G. lutea root extracts have been reported to have inhibitory activity against H. Pylori in laboratory studies.[3]

The phytochemical constituent gentiopicroside has been reported in laboratory animal studies to produce significant analgesic effects against persistent inflammatory pain stimuli.[4] Analgesic effects of gentiopicroside involve down-regulation of NR2B receptors to persistent inflammatory pain. Another constituent, gentianine, has also been found to have significant anti-inflammatory activity in laboratory studies, partly based on the suppressed production of TNF-alpha and IL-6.[5]

The laboratory studies have found that G. lutea root extracts have antioxidant activity.[6],[7] Laboratory studies have reported that the leaves and flowers of G. lutea have antimicrobial activity.[8]


There are no clinical studies available to support the use of this herb.

Interaction and Depletions

Interaction with other Herbs

No documentation

Interaction with Drugs

Based on pharmacology, use with caution in individuals taking MAO inhibitors, as G. lutea root has been reported in laboratory studies to contain MAO-B (and to a lesser extent MAO-A) inhibitor constituents.[10]

Precautions and Contraindications

Side effects

Discontinue if allergy occurs.

G. lutea has been reported safe in recommended doses. G. lutea should not be used in peptic ulceration.[9]


Due to lack of safety data, G. lutea should not be used in pregnancy or lactation. 

Age limitation

No documentation

Adverse reaction

No documentation


  1. Toriumi Y, Kakuda R, Kikuchi M, Yaoita Y, Kikuchi M. New triterpenoids from Gentiana lutea. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo). Jan 2003;51(1):89-91.
  2. Mu Z, Yu Y, Gao H, Jiao W, Yao X. [Chemical and pharmacological research for Sect. Aptera (gentiana)] Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. Aug 2009;34(16):2012-2017.
  3. Mahady GB, Pendland SL, Stoia A, et al. In vitro susceptibility of Helicobacter pylori to botanical extracts used traditionally for the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders. Phytother Res. 2005;19(11):988-991.
  4. Chen L, Liu JC, Zhang XN, Guo YY, et al. Down-regulation of NR2B receptors partially contributes to analgesic effects of Gentiopicroside in persistent inflammatory pain. Neuropharmacology. Jun 2008;54(8):1175-1181.
  5. Kwak WJ, Kim JH, Ryu KH, Cho YB, Jeon SD, Moon CK. Effects of gentianine on the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines in male Sprague-Dawley rats treated with lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Biol Pharm Bull. Apr 2005;28(4):750-753.
  6. Amin A. Ketoconazole-induced testicular damage in rats reduced by Gentiana extract. Exp Toxicol Pathol. Apr 2008;59(6):377-384.
  7. Kusar A, Zupancic A, Sentjurc M, Baricevic D. Free radical scavenging activities of yellow gentian (Gentiana lutea L.) measured by electron spin resonance. Hum Exp Toxicol. Oct 2006;25(10):599-604.
  8. Savikin K, Menković N, Zdunić G, Stević T, Radanović D, Janković T. Antimicrobial activity of Gentiana lutea L. extracts. Z Naturforsch C. May-Jun 2009;64(5-6):339-342.
  9. Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinckmann J 2000. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. 1029 Chestnut Street, Newton, MA 02464: Copyright American Botanical Council. Publ. by Integrative Medicine Communications:149-152.
  10. Haraguchi H, Tanaka Y, Kabbash A, Fujioka T, Ishizu T, Yagi A. Monoamine oxidase inhibitors from Gentiana lutea. Phytochemistry. Aug 2004;65(15):2255-2260.

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