There are more than 400 species of Gentiana all over the world. In Europe, especially in central and southern Europe, from Balkan countries to Spain, we can find Gentiana acaulis and lutea, a very beautiful flowering plant named after an ancient Illyrian king, Gentius. It was well known in the times of Dioscorides and Pliny as a medicine.
Mythology tells us that it was the core herb of a special potion for treating bites of poisonous animals.
Gentiana is very happy living in remote, sunny valleys and cliffs of limestone, the acidic environments of the Alps, Pyrenees, and Epirus’ mountain ranges. In Greece, we can find this beautiful flower in Parnassos, Olympus, Oiti, and other places in Thessaly, Epirus, and Macedonia.
Traditional medicine maintains that Gentiana has bitter substances which stimulate the digestive system. It may be the most bitter plant in the world! That is why they used to suggest it as an herb for exhausted organisms with digestion problems, anemia, and jaundice. Also, it was the number one plant for anorexia. In Middle Ages it was considered a panacea for every ‘heavy’ disease. Nowadays, you can drink it as a tea with some honey to ‘escape’ the bitter taste. It is also believed to help iron and B12 be absorbed from food in the form of a tea of Gentiana.
In any case, Gentiana is a herb with strong active ingredients and each species is still being researched by modern medicine. This is why you must definitely consult your doctor before using it (especially people with gastric or duodenal ulcer).
The basis for the modern use of herbs is: Seek the advice of your doctor before and after use.
* The above is not medical advice but mere suggestions for improving your diet. Before reach herbal use you should consult your doctor, especially those who have health issues, are pregnant or are under the age of 6.
Evropi-Sofia Dalampira holds a PhD in Agricultural Economics and an MSc in Botany-Biology.