Gentian Root Gentiana lutea
Gentian is said to have been discovered by an Illyrian King called ‘Gentians’, from whom it has derived its name. The genus is quite variable and its species comee in many different types and sizes. But without a doubt, Yellow Mountain Gentian, Gentiana lutea, is the most impressive of them all. Tall and ‘robust’, it has a distinctly ‘corporeal’, almost reptilian presence. Unlike some of its tiny, blue, ethereal cousins, Yellow Gentian cannot be overlooked. Equally remarkable is its longevity. If allowed to grow, Yellow Gentian can reach up to 50 years of age. However it only fully matures and produces flowers after 10 years. With such a long reproductive cycle it is not surprising that it has a hard time withstanding the pressures of wild plant gatherers, especially since it is the root that is the loot. Consequently, Yellow Gentian is now considered a threatened species and gathering it in the wild is prohibited.
Gentian has been a popular healing herb since ancient times and is best known for its intense bitterness. Even in a 1:50 000 dilution it can still be detected, which likely makes it the bitterest substance known to man. The bitterness is not due to tannins, though, which means that it is not astringent and does not irritate the body’s mucous membranes.
Instead, the bitterness makes it a superior tonic for the digestive system. It is used for dyspepsia, indigestion and inflammatory conditions of the stomach and intestines. It aids absorption and stimulates gall bladder and pancreas. It is one of the main ingredients of several different stomach bitters. The ancients also used it for intermittent fevers and chronic or acute sinus problems, or, as a gargle, to combat inflammatory conditions of the mouth and throat. All through the Middle Ages it was also praised as an antidote for the bites of venomous beasts. Should not be used where stomach or intestinal ulcers are present..
Gentian helps to counteract the effects of evil spells, especially those that spin a web of illusory fantasies and lead to a loss of reality. Gentian can help to regain a grip and see things for what they are. It can be used as an amulet to help connect with the higher self and to trust its guiding wisdom.