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Gentian Root

Veterinarian Reviewed on June 6, 2012 by Paulina Nelega, RH
Posted in Uncategorized

Gentian Root, aka Long Dan Cao (Radix Genitanae Scabrae)


It is a plant growing about 2 meters tall with elliptic leaves. The flowers of the plant are yellow. The root itself has a rather bitter taste but it is widely used as a medicinal tonic. The herb is found in two forms as a powder or in tincture form. Orally it is used for digestive disorders and for fever and topically it can be used for treating wounds and cancer.


The Gentian root originates from the mountains of central Europe. It was then transferred to Asia and America where it flourishes. Gentian is used in both Eastern and Western medicine for the same reasons.

First of all it has both anti inflammatory and anti allergic effects. It can stimulate the production of bile and saliva and help with the assimilation of fats in foods and from the body. Besides being a stomachic tonic it has antiseptic properties and it is useful in hysteria and in female weakness. Gentian is used to reduce the fever in common Colds and stimulate the glands, helping with the production of bile, which in turn helps with proper functioning of the liver. It is also important for cleaning the bowels and stimulates circulation. Traditionally, it has been used to treat wounds and is taken orally for inflammation.

Ancient Uses

Other properties of this root include the production of sugars and it is very beneficial for the digesting organs. Hence it is used worldwide as an appetite stimulant or as a digestive aid. It increases the appetite, stimulates bile and saliva and decreases intestinal inflammation. It is one of the most useful natural tonics. The Gentian herb also has sedative and relaxing effects on the central nervous system making it useful to calm people suffering from hysterics, shock, stress and other over stimulated conditions.

It has found use in treating certain syndromes such as Leukorrhagia, Pudic eczema and Puritus vulvae. Useful in combination with other herbs for clearing dampness and heat attributes in Traditional Chinese Medicine.
When used in combination with Chai Hu (Bupleurum Root) and Longdan Xiegan Tang, it can treat bitter taste of the mouth, hypochondriac pain, Headaches and conjunctival congestion. A similar recipe is often used to cleanse and normalize the gallbladder to cure jaundice.

Other uses for this herb include : Febrile diseases due to excessive heat of the liver channels, infantile convulsions that include excessive fevers and for easing endogenic wind a condition known as Liang Jing Wan.

Modern Uses

Gentian Root has found many applications in today’s medical field. It has promising signs to help treat hypertension, especially hypertension that includes headaches, Insomnia, irritability, excessive thirst, dysuria and rapid wiry pulse. A clinical study has shown it can help treat Hepatitis and in some subjects it cured them of non icteric hepatitis. In the same study several jaundice sufferers found relief from their ailment too.

Cholecystitis sufferers were found many times to achieve a total recovery achieved after being treated with a combination of herbs that included Gentian Root; and patients that had upper gastrointestinal bleeding were treated with Long Dan and had a 98% recovery rate. Samples were taken afterward and no traces of blood were found.

Side Effects

There are no recorded serious side effects associated with taking this herb. However some patients, who experience frequent heartburn, have stomach ulcers or have over active stomach acid production should not use Gentian root until these issues are cleared up. Other mild reactions could occur including mild headaches and indigestion.

Read also: Propolis

Our Expert

Paulina Nelega, RH
Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan

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