Yellow gentian (Gentiana lutea)

Yellow gentian (Gentiana lutea)

Diagram courtesy of Wikimedia Commons /  Amédée Masclef

Diagram courtesy of Wikimedia Commons /
Amédée Masclef

Other names: Great yellow gentian, gall weed, bitterwort, bitter root, pale gentian, felwort

*Note that there are many other species of gentian that are also used medicinally. This is the most common species used in medicine. Use caution if wildcrafting as it looks a lot like white hellebore (Veratrum album), which is toxic.

The following information may not be re-posted, copied or published without my permission and appropriate credit given. Please contact me via email (listed on the About page) if you wish to re-publish any of the information on my blog.

Family: Gentianaceae


Appetite stimulant, bitter, carminitive, digestive tonic, cholagogue, anthelmintic, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antispasmodic, emmenagogue, febrifuge, refrigerant, mucous membrane tonic, astringent, detoxifier.


Harvest the roots in fall. Check to ensure that this plant is not endangered in your area, as it is scarce in some zones. It should be dried slowly to prevent deterioration of the constituents.

Part used: Root


Secoiridoid glycosides (amarogentin and gentiopicrin), tannins, amarogentin, sweroside, swertiamarin, gentiamarin, gentiin, gentianic acid, dextrose, laevulose, sucrose, gentianose, pectin, phenolic acid, phytosterols, xanthones, trisaccharides and polysaccharides, among others.


Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Jean-Pol GRANDMONT

Used to treat parasitic infections, bleeding, abdominal cramps, muscle spasms, sinusitis, diarrhea, detoxification, constipation, jaundice, gas and bloating, poor appetite, amenorrhea, indigestion, bacterial and viral infections, sluggish liver and gallbladder function, malaria, inflammation, fever, exhaustion after chronic illness, high blood pressure, and other conditions. It can be combined with a cathartic laxative to reduce unwanted side effects.

Medicinal preparations:


Yellow gentian is a key ingredient in Angostura bitters. It can be used in fluid extract, tincture, decocted tea or capsule forms.


Can be used topically as a salve, wash, poultice or other preparation. It is more commonly used internally, however.


Do not use if pregnant or nursing, or if you have a peptic or duodenal ulcer or low blood pressure. Do not use for long-term treatment. Consult with a doctor before use if you are taking any medications or have underlying health conditions (especially gallstones/kidney stones). Do not take with blood pressure medications. Some may experience nausea and hyperacidity due to the stimulation of stomach acids. Stop taking gentian at least two weeks before a scheduled surgery.

I suggest consulting a pharmacist or physician before starting any herbal supplement if you are taking a prescription medication or have serious underlying health concerns.

Energetic/traditional use:

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons / User:charlespierre

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons / User:charlespierre

In medieval times, gentian was used as an antidote to poisons. It was referred to in Asia as the “dragon gallbladder herb” because of its reputation for settling gallbladder inflammation. It has cooling energy. It also boosts energy and power, and it’s been said that it can encourage a lover to come to you.

Disclaimer: The information on this website is intended as general education on herbs and is not intended to take the place of medical care. Please consult a health care professional before embarking on any health regime.

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