Gentian is an herb. The root of the plant and, less commonly, the bark are used to make medicine.

Gentian is used for digestion problems such as loss of appetite, bloating, diarrhea, and heartburn. It is also used for fever and to prevent muscle spasms.

Gentian is applied to the skin for treating wounds and cancer.

Gentian is used in combination with European elderflower, verbena, cowslip flower, and sorrel for treating symptoms of sinus infections (sinusitis).

In foods and beverages, gentian is used as an ingredient.

In manufacturing, gentian is used in cosmetics.

Gentian root is not related to the gentian violet dye (methylrosaniline chloride).

If you plan to make your own gentian preparation, be sure you identify gentian correctly. The highly toxic white hellebore (Veratrum album) can be misidentified as gentian and has caused accidental poisoning when used in homemade preparations.
Gentian seems to be safe for most people when taken by mouth in small amounts as part of a combination product containing gentian root, elderflower, verbena, and cowslip flower (SinuComp, Sinupret). There isn't enough information to know if gentian is safe when used in medicinal amounts other than as part of the combination product. The combination product can cause stomach upset and allergic skin rash.

There isn't enough information to know if applying gentian to the skin is safe.

The highly toxic white hellebore (Veratrum album) can be mistaken for gentian and has caused accidental poisoning when used in homemade preparations.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the use of gentian during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Low blood pressure: There is a concern that using gentian might make low blood pressure worse or interfere with drug treatment to increase blood pressure.

Surgery: Because gentian might affect blood pressure, there is a concern that it might interfere with blood pressure control during and after surgery. Stop using gentian at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.


NatMed Pro rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.
Likely effective Effectiveness definitions
Possibly effective Effectiveness definitions
  • Sinus infection (sinusitis). Research studies show that taking gentian as part of a combination herbal product improves symptoms from sinus infections. Taking gentian as part of a combination herbal product along with a prescription steroid nasal spray (Nasonex) seems to reduce the symptoms of a sinus infection better than taking the steroid nasal spray alone.
Likely ineffective Effectiveness definitions
Possibly ineffective Effectiveness definitions
Insufficient evidence Effectiveness definitions
  • Weight loss. Early research shows that eating a special pudding containing gentian root extract for breakfast once can reduce the number of calories eaten over the next 24 hours. But this does not reduce feelings of hunger or fullness.
  • Stomach disorders.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Fever.
  • Heartburn.
  • Vomiting.
  • Menstrual disorders.
  • Cancer.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of gentian for these uses.

Dosing & administration

The following doses have been studied in scientific research:

  • Sinus infection (sinusitis): A specific combination product (Sinupret) containing 12 mg of gentian root and 36 mg each of European elder flower, verbena, sorrel, and cowslip flower has been taken three times daily. Another combination product (Sinupret forte) containing 12 mg of gentian root and 36 mg each of elder flower, primrose flower, verbena and sorrel has been taken three times daily for 7 days.

Interactions with pharmaceuticals

Medications for high blood pressure (Antihypertensive drugs)

Interaction Rating=Moderate Be cautious with this combination.

Theoretically, gentian might decrease blood pressure. Taking gentian along with medications for high blood pressure might cause your blood pressure to go too low.

Some medications for high blood pressure include captopril (Capoten), enalapril (Vasotec), losartan (Cozaar), valsartan (Diovan), diltiazem (Cardizem), Amlodipine (Norvasc), hydrochlorothiazide (HydroDiuril), furosemide (Lasix), and many others.

Interactions with herbs & supplements

Herbs and supplements that might lower blood pressure: Gentian might lower blood pressure. There is concern that combining gentian with other herbs and supplements that can also lower blood pressure might cause blood pressure to drop too low. Some of these herbs and supplements include andrographis, casein peptides, cat's claw, coenzyme Q-10, fish oil, L-arginine, lycium, stinging nettle, theanine, and others.

Interactions with foods

There are no known interactions with foods.


Gentian contains a chemical that might dilate blood vessels.
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This monograph was last reviewed on 16/11/2023 11:00:00 and last updated on 22/03/2018 19:52:32. Monographs are reviewed and/or updated multiple times per month and at least once per year.
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