Traditionally used as a bitter to strengthen digestion and to treat atonic dyspepsia
Traditionally used as a tonic to alleviate fatigue from chronic disease
An unrivalled bitter tonic and gastric stimulant, gentian has a long and distinguished history of medicinal use in both East and West, going all the way back to classical antiquity. The therapeutic effectiveness of this medicinal herb has been corroborated by modern research studies.
In the last century, echoing Eclectic physicians H.W. Felter and J.U. Lloyd, well-known British herbalist Mrs. M. Grieve noted that gentian is "especially useful in states of exhaustion from chronic disease and in all cases of general debility, weakness of the digestive organs and want of appetite. It is one of the best strengtheners of the human system".
In addition to its gastrointestinal properties, modern-day herbalist David Hoffmann makes reference to its "generally fortifying effect".
The Commission E, Germany's foremost herbal authority, notes that, "The essential active principles are the bitter substances contained in the herb. These bring about a reflex excitation of the taste receptors, leading to increased secretion of saliva and the digestive juices. Gentian root is therefore considered to be not simply a pure bitter, but also a … tonic".
Citing herbal pharmacologist Daniel Mowrey, renowned botanist Dr. James Duke notes that "gentian, especially when taken about 30 minutes before meals, is a remarkable heartburn preventive that also aids digestion".
In 2005, researchers G.B. Mahady et al. further strengthened the claim that gentian improves digestion, when they found that it had the ability to inhibit the stomach-ulcer-inducing bacteria, Heliobacter pylori.
As well, other scientists have discovered a positive therapeutic correlation between gentian and the central nervous system. Herbal researcher D. Frohne alludes to this when he confirms that gentian is a strong bitter that acts "as an appetite stimulant and also as a … tonic. Gentian reflexively promotes gastric juice (and saliva) production through stimulation of gustatory receptors in the taste buds and influencing especially the encephalic phase of the secretion".