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Gentian (long dan cao)
What is gentian? What is it used for?
Gentian is a small plant native to eastern Europe and Turkey.
The root and berries are used medicinally, and are rich in
B vitamins; vitamin F; niacin; inositol; and other trace elements.
It is classified as a bitter; two substances contained in
the plant (gentiopicrin and amarogentin) are among the most
bitter substances found in nature.
Gentian has been used as a medicinal by various cultures
for more than 3,000 years. Historically, it was used by Greek,
Egyptian and Roman healers to increase appetite, cleanse sores,
and treat stomach and liver ailments. As far back as the 1950s,
scientists suggested that gentian inhibited the bodys
feelings of fullness, suggesting it could improve a poor appetite.
More recent studies have confirmed gentians effectiveness
is treating appetite and indigestion, while independent case
reports suggest that gentian can eliminate hiccups, especially
those caused by drinking alcohol.
How much gentian should I take?
The German Commission E recommends taking 2-4 grams of whole
gentian root daily, or 1-3 grams of a gentian tincture.
What forms of gentian are available?
Whole gentian root is available at some Asian markets and
specialty stores. It is also sold in alcohol-based tinctures
and fluid extracts. Gentian berries are sometimes ground and
sold as a powder.
What can happen if I take too much
gentian? Are there any interactions I should be aware of?
What precautions should I take?
While there are no known side-effects associated with taking
gentian, it should not be used by patients who suffer from
heartburn, gastritis or stomach ulcers, or who produce excessive
stomach acid. There are currently no well-known drug interactions
Other Resources :
More You Know About Minerals
More You Know About Nutrition
Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg
A, et al. (eds.) The Complete Commission E Monographs:
Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Boston, MA: Integrative
Medicine Communications, 1998, p. 135.
JA. CRC Handbook of Medicinal Herbs. Boca Raton, FL:
CRC Press, 1985, pp. 207-8.
Herman JH, Nolan DS. A
bitter cure. NEJM 1981;305:1654.
Kondo Y, Takano F, Hojo H. Suppression of chemically
and immunologically induced hepatic injuries by gentiopicroside
in mice. Planta Med 1994;60:414-6.
Weiss RF. Herbal Medicine. Gothenburg,
Sweden: Ab Arcanum, 1988, pp. 40-42.