Gentian, yellow (Gentiana lutea)
“…so blue, blue, blue blossoms the gentian…”, says a well-known song, thus shaping our idea of the gentian in general.
However, the medicinal herb used is the tall yellow gentian, which is at home in the mountains of Central and Southern Europe. The perennial, vigorous plant, which can reach a height of 150 cm, needs 8-12 years before it comes into flower for the first time.
The yellow gentian was brought to the brink of extinction by its medicinal use and above all by the production of gentian schnapps from its root, which weighs up to 6 kg, and is therefore a protected species. Nowadays, it is cultivated in special cultures. For use as a medicinal plant, it is harvested at the end of May, when the content of the bitter substances gentianopicrin and amarogentin in the root is at its highest. The bitter value is enormous – even in a dilution of 1:58 million, the extract tastes bitter.
Gentian root is primarily used to stimulate the appetite and to promote the digestive function of the stomach and intestines, gall bladder and pancreas, but also for inflammatory bowel diseases. In folk medicine, yellow gentian is also used as a general tonic.