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The Benefits of Gentian Root

author image Amber Kelsey
Growing up in a family full of landscapers and carpenters, Amber Kelsey learned all about home and garden topics through osmosis. Her articles in The Green Girl's Guide and Altar demonstrate her eco-friendly nature, and she uses organic practices in her various gardens. Kelsey holds master's degrees in English writing and cultural anthropology.
The Benefits of Gentian Root
The roots of gentian plants contain various health benefits. Photo Credit Goodshoot/Goodshoot/Getty Images

Gentian root is a bitter herb that comes from yellow gentian plants, or Gentiana lutea. This European native produces wrinkled, light to dark brown roots commonly used to make health supplements. Gentian root supplements come in tea, extract, tincture and powder forms. Consult your doctor before using gentian root to treat your specific health conditions.

Treats Gastrointestinal Issues

Herbalists have long used gentian root to stimulate appetite and improve various gastrointestinal problems, including heartburn, vomiting and diarrhea. Traditional folk healers believe that consuming bitter herbs like gentian root before meals helps to improve your digestive process by stimulating the flow of saliva, bile and stomach acids. Drugs.com reports that gentian root extract stimulates gastric secretions in laboratory animals. Human subjects who took gentian root experienced a reduction in constipation, heartburn and dyspepsia. The PeaceHealth website suggests mixing 1 to 3 ml of gentian root tincture with water and sipping the mixture about 30 minutes before you eat.

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Prevents Cancer

Consuming gentian root extract might also prevent the formation of cancer cells. According to A. Kusar's article in "Human and Experimental Toxology," gentian root contains substantial antioxidant properties that can help your body fight off scavenging free radicals. N. Menkovic reports in "Phytotherapy Research" that gentian root extract protects healthy cells from x-ray irradiation while keeping the cancerous cells susceptible to the effects of radiation. Further studies need to focus on the benefits of gentian root for cancer patients.


Anemia is a health condition that primarily occurs when a patient doesn't get enough iron. Insufficient iron levels lead to a lack of red blood cells, which means that your blood can't carry enough oxygen to your tissues and organs. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, European herbalists often use gentian root to treat anemia because stimulating your digestive system makes it easier for your body to absorb iron. Chinese herbalists caution you not to use gentian root if you also have problems with frequent urination or chronic pain.

Other Benefits

According to Drugs.com, gentian root contains several active ingredients that might have other health benefits. The gentiopicroside and gentianine found in gentian root exhibit significant analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects in laboratory animals, but human studies are needed. Drugs.com adds that gentian root extracts exhibit antiprotozoal, antibacterial and antifungal benefits in test tube studies. Future studies need to focus on the health benefits of gentian root on human subjects.


Although gentian root offers you various health benefits, some people experience mild side effects, including nausea, vomiting and headaches. Pregnant or lactating women should avoid using gentian root supplements, Consult your health care provider about the potential benefits and interactions of gentian root before taking this supplement

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