Useful properties and uses of gentian
Botanical characteristics of gentian
The gentian is a genus of perennial, much less often annual grasses or shrubs, the height of which is from 20 to 150 cm. The plant belongs to the gentian family, in which there are about 400 species. Gentian leaves are opposite and whole.
The root is thick, short, with thin cordlike roots. The stems are usually short and straight. Flowers are single or few in number. The corolla is funnel-shaped or bell-shaped; in rare cases, it spreads the leaves, forming the shape of a plate. The gentian fruit is a bivalve capsule growing from a unilocular ovary.
In the overwhelming majority of cases, the color of gentian is blue, blue (various shades) and purple. There are species with yellow and white flowers. The flowering time depends on the type of gentian, since certain species bloom in spring, others - in summer or autumn.
Useful properties of gentian
Most types of gentian have healing properties, knowing about which, traditional healers use them in their medical practice. The aerial part and roots of the gentian contain a number of biologically active substances that have a positive effect on the body in various diseases.
The pharmacological properties of plants are primarily determined by the presence of bitter substances - glycosides, which have a positive effect on the functioning of the gastrointestinal tract and stimulate appetite. Glycosides also have an antispasmodic effect.
Gentian root contains gentiopicrin, amarogenthin, as well as several more bitter glycosides: amarosverin, amaropanin, and svertsiamarin. An alkaloid called gentianine was found in the root of the plant, the list of useful substances was supplemented with other alkaloids - pyridine derivatives: gencialutin, gencyanidin, genciopunktin, gencioflavin.
Gentianin helps to suppress coughs, seizures, fever, and also has a sedative and anti-inflammatory effect.
In addition to the listed substances, aromatic compounds, tannins and resinous substances, pectins, ascorbic acid, and inulin were found in the roots of gentian (for example, yellow gentian). Fatty oil and sugars (gentianose trisaccharide and sucrose disaccharide) were also found in the roots.
In many gentian species, 13 phenolcarboxylic acids are found in their root part. The most common for this species are o-hydroxyphenylacetic, pyrocatechic, m-hydroxybenzoic and homoprotocatechic, ferulic acids, due to which the evacuation function of the stomach is enhanced.
Application of gentian
For the first time, gentian infusions and decoctions began to be used in Ancient Egypt as an effective remedy for the treatment of gastric diseases and in Ancient Rome for convulsions, severe bruises, with bites of poisonous animals, and also as a remedy for the treatment of plague.
In the Middle Ages, gentian was used to treat tuberculosis, plague, fever, diarrhea, and also as an effective antihelminthic agent. It is interesting to note that at the same time, in the mountainous countries, bitter alcoholic drinks were made from gentian roots.
The gentian has always been especially prized in the Carpathians. Here, with her help, they treated all kinds of diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, gallbladder, liver. Decoctions were used to treat lung diseases, for sexual disorders. The people used gentian as a tonic, antitussive, antihelminthic agent. The decoctions were recommended for rheumatoid arthritis, gout, scurvy, jaundice, heartburn, constipation, and even for allergic diseases.
Today, gentian is still popular in folk medicine. Funds based on it are recommended to increase appetite, normalize the digestive system, are used as an excellent choleretic, hemostatic and anti-inflammatory agent, to treat gout, eye diseases and difficult healing wounds, to stimulate the liver, and gentian preparations also enhance heart contractions.
Indications for the use of medicinal decoctions and tinctures based on gentian are also diathesis (among the people "scrofula"), anemia, a violation of the composition of gastric juice (achilia), constipation, flatulence. The herb is recognized as an ideal general tonic.
In the traditional medicine of Italian healers, gentian is used to normalize blood pressure. Tibetan physicians use certain types of plants (large-leaved gentian and large-flowered gentian) for diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, gallbladder, throat diseases, and cancer.
Preparations containing gentian are also used in official medicine. As a rule, these are tonics, as well as drugs aimed at treating diseases of the digestive system, appetite disorders, achilia. The gentian is used as a choleretic agent to combat flatulence, anemia, chronic hepatitis.
The finished raw material contains two important glycosides: amarogenthin and gentiopicrin, which are substances used in the preparation of bitterness. Gentian root also contains special sugars - gentianose and gentiobios. Treatment with remedies prepared on the basis of gentian root is quite effective. However, the duration and result of treatment mainly depend on the phase of the disease and the state of the stomach.
The main tasks of sugars are to increase appetite, stimulate gastric secretion, accelerate the flow of nutrients from the stomach into the duodenum, thereby curing indigestion without causing constipation.
Gentian root has a tonic, antipyretic effect, is used for anemia, increases blood pressure, and is used to treat malaria. The root of yellow gentian is a part of a number of herbal medicines, such as Bittner's balm and the Swedish bitterness of Dr. Taissa, the composition of which is based on folk recipes.
Gentian root decoctions
Recipe number 1: 1 tablespoon of dried and ground gentian root should be poured into a bowl and covered with water (250 ml), then cook over low heat for 10 minutes. It is recommended to take the remedy 15-20 minutes before meals, 20 grams each. The broth is intended to increase appetite.
Recipe number 2: 3 teaspoons of dry raw materials should be poured with water (700 ml), bring to a boil, simmer for 15 minutes, then leave for at least two hours, and then strain. Take the medicine 15-20 minutes before meals, 0.5 cups. The broth is intended for the treatment of rheumatism, arthritis, gout.
Recipe number 3: You need to take 5 tablespoons of raw gentian root and 3 tablespoons of oak bark. Boil the resulting mixture for 10 minutes. This broth helps to solve the problem of sweating feet. It is recommended to do foot baths daily before bedtime.
Gentian flowers are usually blue, light blue, sometimes yellow and white. They are quite large, their length ranges from 2 to 5 cm - depending on the type of plant. They are not used as medicinal raw materials.
Gentian seeds are very small. They are characterized by slow growth.
The best time to plant is from January to April. To achieve the maximum effect, the seeds are scattered over the surface of a well-moistened organic fertilizer or compost in a thin layer, additionally they are sprinkled on top. The crops are compacted, after which the bowl is covered with glass or wrapped in a plastic bag. When growing the plant, avoid direct sunlight. Gentian seeds cannot be collected in large quantities, so they are not used for medicinal purposes.
Yellow gentian is a herbaceous plant up to 120 cm high. Particular attention is paid to the gentian root: it is short, thick, distinguished by the presence of branched roots. Stems are straight, glabrous. The leaves are paired, fused at the bases, simple, broadly ovate. Flowers are collected in bunches of 3–11 flowers.
Flowering occurs in June-August, the plant bears fruit in September. The gentian grows high in the mountains in subalpine meadows, as well as in the upper forest zone in the Carpathians, the Balkans, the Alps, Pyrenees, and also in the mountains of Asia Minor. The plant can be found almost throughout Europe, with the exception of Poland, the Baltic States and Russia (with the exception of the mountains of the Tlyaratinsky region of the Republic of Dagestan). Today the yellow gentian is an endangered plant. The gentian has been actively used as a healing agent since the Middle Ages.
The famous German physician Hieronymus Bock (1498-1554) first spoke of gentian as an effective gastric remedy. During the plague, this plant became the number one medicine. It was used not only to fight the plague, but also to treat fever, tuberculosis, diarrhea, flatulence, and also to prevent worms. The healing properties of gentian are explained by its composition: it contains bitter glycosides that enhance gastrointestinal motility.
In addition, the roots of the plant contain bitterness, bioflavonoids, fatty and essential oils, sucrose, pectins, mucus and resins. The leaves are characterized by a high content of ascorbic acid. In scientific medicine, yellow gentian is used to normalize the gastrointestinal tract, increase appetite, and also to normalize blood circulation.
Traditional medicine uses gentian more widely. Decoctions and herbal infusions are prepared to increase appetite, fight heartburn, colic, and constipation.
Some decoctions are used externally - for example, a decoction for sweating feet. For the healing of festering wounds, it is recommended to sprinkle the affected areas with a special powder of dried and ground gentian root in combination with chamomile flowers.
Bulgarian folk healers recommend gentian for diseases of the gallbladder, liver, and anemia. Gentian root is used in homeopathy. Medicines are prepared from fresh roots and are prescribed for anorexia, a feeling of heaviness in the stomach.
The stemless gentian is a perennial light-loving plant, the height of which reaches no more than 10 cm. The leaves are whole, opposite, sessile. The shape of the leaves is oval. The flowers are large enough, their length reaches 5 cm, solitary, attract attention with a bright blue color. The fruit of the plant is a box with one nest. The gentian blooms in May. The seeds of this plant species are small. The gentian is used in the preparation of group flower arrangements, as well as in the design of rock gardens.
The pulmonary gentian is a plant (perennial) up to 65 cm high. The root is short, cylindrical in shape, cord-like roots extend from the root. Leaves linear or linear-lanceolate, opposite, narrow, accrete at the base. The flowers are located at the top of the stem and have a deep blue color. The calyx of flowers is bell-shaped. The fruit is a capsule. Flowering occurs in August. The plant begins to bear fruit in October.
The pulmonary gentian grows in Siberia, the Caucasus, and Western Europe. It is found, as a rule, in meadows, on light soils, on sandy plains, forest edges and slopes.
The pulmonary gentian is considered an ornamental plant, but for a long time it has been used to treat gastrointestinal diseases. Aboveground parts of this species contain glycosides, alkaloids, essential oil.
Vitamin C was found in the leaves in a small amount. The root is a medicinal raw material, contains glucosides, alkaloids, erythroceptaurin, carotene, vitamin C, tannins. Due to its amazing composition, pulmonary gentian is used to normalize the digestive tract, as an antihelminthic drug, and also contributes to a positive effect on the tone of the uterus, reduces the amount of discharge during menstruation.
Dahurian gentian is a perennial herb. It grows in the Altai Territory, in the South-Eastern part of Kazakhstan, in the North-Western part of China. This species can be found in meadows, slopes and river valleys.
The root of the plant is used as a medicinal raw material, in which carbohydrates, alkaloids (gentian, gentianin), iridoids (genciopicroside, sverozide, svertsiamarin) are found.
In medicine, the plant is recommended as an antipyretic, antirheumatic, hemostatic, anti-inflammatory agent. Gentian helps to normalize metabolic processes and increase appetite, significantly improves the functioning of the digestive system, is used as a diuretic, analgesic, choleretic, antitumor, antispasmodic and potency-increasing agent.
The effectiveness of gentian has been scientifically proven for epidemic influenza, as well as for hypacid gastritis.
Three-flowered gentian is a perennial plant. Its stems are straight, unbranched, reaching a height of 80 cm. The lower leaves are fused into sheaths, the upper and middle ones are lanceolate-linear, free. The flowers are usually five-membered, sessile. The calyx is small, bell-shaped. Corolla tubular-clavate. It has a rich dark blue color.
The plant blooms from August to September. This type of gentian grows in swampy areas on the territory of the Russian Federation (in Eastern Siberia, on Sakhalin), in Japan, China, Korea. In most cases, rhizomes with roots are used as medicinal raw materials, much less often grass. The medicinal properties of the plant are explained by the content of alkaloids, flavonoids, bitterness and ascorbic acid.
In folk medicine, three-flowered gentian is recommended to increase appetite, and also as a means of normalizing the work of the digestive tract.
Tibetan medicine uses not only the roots, but also the flowers of the plant for gastritis, neurasthenia and overwork. The leaves are used as a topical wound healing agent.
The gentian is a beautiful ornamental plant. Its height reaches 30 cm. The stem is erect or ascending. Leaves are lanceolate, sessile. The flowers are large enough, collected in terminal bundles of up to eight flowers, their length reaches 4 cm, the color is dark blue. The gentian blooms from June to July. This species grows in the Crimea, in the highlands of the Caucasus, Iran, Asia Minor, and also in Russia. The gentian is an ideal plant for curbs or rocky gardens.
The roots and herb of the plant are also used as a remedy. The gentian contains alkaloids, flavonoids, phenolcarboxylic acids, as well as carbohydrates and vitamin C. Decoctions help to increase appetite, normalize the digestive activity of the body, and have an antibacterial effect.
A decoction of gentian seven-part: pour 3 tablespoons of dry chopped herbs into a container, pour 400 ml of water, put on a low heat, cook for 3 minutes, then leave for one hour, and then strain. The broth is taken 3 times a day, 15-20 minutes before meals. The dosage is 1/3 cup.
The cruciform gentian is a perennial herb with a thick rhizome. Its stems are straight, sometimes slightly raised, reaching a height of 20–50 cm. Leaves are obovate-lanceolate, opposite, intergrown in pairs, their number can reach from 8 to 10 pairs. The flowers are tetrahedral, club-bell-shaped, medium-sized, 2–3.5 mm long. The color of the flowers is bright blue. The fruits are boxes.
The plant blooms from July to August. The cruciform gentian grows in Russia (the exception is the northern regions of the country). It can be found in Western Siberia on dry grassy slopes, meadows, forest edges, in sparse forests, on lawns, along river valleys. It is considered a rare plant. Grass and rhizome are used as medicinal raw materials. Infusions and decoctions of gentian are popular in folk medicine. They are recommended for inflammation of the genitourinary system, kidney disease, and also as a general tonic.
Broth of gentian cruciform: 1 tablespoon of chopped and dried rhizomes should be poured into a container and poured with a glass of boiled water, then cook over low heat for 30 minutes. The broth must be infused until completely cooled and filtered. A ready-made product is used 3 times a day, 20-30 minutes before meals.
Contraindications to the use of gentian
Overdose should be avoided. It was found that the use of tinctures, the dosage of which does not exceed 35 drops, is completely harmless to the body. Exceeding the norm leads to facial flushing, headaches, dizziness. With extreme caution, it is recommended to use decoctions and preparations for people suffering from increased irritability of the gastric mucosa, ulcers, and high blood pressure.
It is not recommended to take products based on gentian for pregnant women and nursing mothers. There is a possibility of allergic reactions due to intolerance to bitterness.
The author of the article: Sokolova Nina Vladimirovna | Phytotherapist
Education: Diploma in "General Medicine" and "Therapy" received at the Pirogov University (2005 and 2006). Advanced training at the Department of Phytotherapy at the Peoples' Friendship University of Moscow (2008).
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