Native to Europe and western Asia, G. Jutea is nnial herb with erect stems and oval leaves, which to 1.8 meters in height. The plant produces a roffragrant orange-yellow flowers. G. acaulis is a herb with a basal rosette of lance-shaped leaves '!enerally grows to only 10 cm in height. It is native to Iropean Alps at 3000 to 5000 feet above sea level. 'oots and rhizomes are nearly cylindrical, sometimes led, varying in thickness from 5 to 40 mm. The root lizome portions are longitudinally wrinkled. The ,lot the rhizomes, ranging from dark brown to light appears to be related to its bitter principal content, the jr roots having more of a persistent bitter taste.1 The and rhizome of G. lutea are used medicinally,eas the entire plant of G. aeau/is is used.
The gentians have been used for centuries ers to stimulate the appetite, improve digestion and iata variety of gastrointestinal complaints (eg, heart?"vomiting, stomach ache, diarrhea). Both gentian ,stemless gentian are approved for food use. Stem?" gentian usually is consumed as a tea or alcoholic ct such as Angostura Bitters. The extracts are used variety of foods, cosmetics and some antismoking ucts. The plant has been used externally to treat Ids and internally to treat sore throat, arthritic inflam? ions and jaundice.
The most characteristic aspect of gentian is bitter taste. This is imparted by a number of bitter pounds, primarily amarogentin, gentiopicrin (about \ in fresh rootS), gentiopicroside and swertiamarin. arogentin is one of the most strongly bitter compounds Bwn. The speed of drying of the roots affects its use as 1edicinal bitter. Slow drying permits enzymatic hydroly? of gentiopicrin into gentiogenin and glucose, thus ucing the bitter nature of the product. 5 Gentian extract used in concentrations of about 0.02% in nonalcoholic.
beverages. In addition, the plant contains numerous . alkaloids (gentianine and gentialutine), xanthones, triter?penes, common sugars and a small amount of a volatile oil. Stemless gentian also contains the xanthone glyco?side gentiacauloside. It should be noted that the dye, gentian violet, is not derived from this plant.
Bitter substances ingested before eating are reputed to improve the appetite and aid digestion by stimulating the flow of gastric juices and bile. However, since gentian is most often consumed as an alcoholic beverage, it is difficult to distinguish the effects of gentian from those of alcohol, which are quite similar when alcohol is consumed in moderate amounts. Gentianine has been shown to exert a measurable anti?inflammatory effect in animals.
Although the extract usually is taken in .very small doses that do not appear to cause adverse effects, at least one author has suggested that gentian may not be well tolerated by persons with hypertension or by women who are pregnant. The extract may cause gastric irritation, resulting in nausea and vomiting.
The highly toxic white hellebore (Veratrum a/bum L.) often grows in close proximity to gentian. At least five cases of acute veratrum alkaloid poisoning have been reported in persons who prepared homemade gentian wine that had been accidentally contaminated by veratrum.
Gentian is a widely recognized plant that has been used as a bitter tonic for centuries. It is believed that a small amount of the extract (usually mixed with alcohol) can stimulate appetite and improve digestion. Aside from this, none of the other professed effects is we)1 documented in humans.
Gentian is used in bitters to stimulate appetite, improve digestion and treat GI complaints. It has also been ied to treat wounds, sore throat, arthritic inflammations and jaundice.
The extract may cause gastric irritation and may not be tolerated by pregnant women.