Gentian: The 9 Ways It Can Help You

Medically reviewed by Alexandra Dusenberry, MS, RDN Alexandra Dusenberry Alexandra DusenberryMS, RDN twitter_iconlinkedin_iconinsta_icon
Written by , BSc, Professional Certificate in Food, Nutrition and Health Ravi Teja Tadimalla BSc, Professional Certificate in Food, Nutrition and Health Experience: 8 years
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Native to Europe, the gentian root is a bitter herb that comes from yellow gentian plants. The root is usually used to prepare health supplements in tea, tincture, and powder forms. But why is that so? Because of the potent benefits it can offer. In this post, we’ll see more about the gentian root and the ways it can improve your life. Keep reading!

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How Is Gentian Good For You?

Gentian (or gentian violet) has been used for treating various problems for several decades. Some of them include intestinal gas, gastritis, fever, diabetes, high blood pressure, and even cancer.

 The root contains several active ingredients with healthful properties. The most important of those are the antioxidants, which fight the free radicals and the associated damage they cause. Keep reading – as we have explained more in detail below.

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What Are The Benefits Of Gentian?

1. Gentian Helps Fight Cancer

The US Food and Drug Administration has recognized gentian root as one of the foods with cancer-fighting potential (1). This was found to be especially true in the case of breast cancer, where gentian root exhibited suppressive effects against the disease. Intake of the root can even prevent the formation of cancer cells. All of this can be attributed to the antioxidants present in the root.

2. Can Help Treat Anemia

The root stimulates the digestive system and allows for more efficient absorption of iron, thereby treating anemia.

3. Helps Regulate Weight

Gentian root can be helpful in regulating weight. Thanks to its bitterness, gentian, when taken as a liquid, can stimulate gastric secretions that ultimately lead to fat and cholesterol breakdown (2). This results in healthy weight loss and optimal weight maintenance.

Gentian also improves digestion, and though this doesn’t have a direct impact on weight, it sure can improve metabolism – which is one important contributor to optimal weight.

4. Improves Digestive Health

Given that gentian is a bitter herb, it stimulates saliva flow. It also triggers the release of bile and stomach acids, all of which contribute to a healthy digestive system. And as we already know, this root also stimulates gastric secretions. Studies also showed that human subjects taking gentian root experienced an improvement in their constipation and heartburn symptoms.

5. Accelerates Wound Healing

Gentian extract has antibacterial properties that can treat minor scrapes and cuts and prevent the spread of infection. Studies also show how gentian root can be used as an alternative topical agent for treating superficial wounds and scabs (3).

6. Treats Oral Thrush

Gentian possesses antifungal properties that help treat various yeast infections – oral thrush being one of them. Research shows that the efficacy and the cost of gentian root are far better for treating oral thrush when compared to certain popular conventional medications (4).

The antifungal properties of the root also help treat other fungal issues like vaginal infections and toenail fungus and even diaper rash in babies.

7. Cures Ringworm

7. Cures Ringworm
Image: Shutterstock

The antiseptic properties of the root play a role here. Applying the gentian extract to the affected areas can offer relief. The same properties of gentian can also help treat athlete’s foot.

8. May Help Treat Canker Sores And Warts

Gentian extract can treat canker sores and warts. All you need to do is apply the extract to the affected areas to obtain relief. However, we recommend you consult your doctor before using gentian for this purpose.

9. Can Be Used As Hair Dye

Though it is more often used in a surgical procedure, gentian can sure be used as a hair dye (5). Some sources talk about how one can use this root as a hair dye at home as well, but we suggest you talk to a hair care specialist before following the process. You can blend gentian extract with your hair conditioner and smear it evenly on your hair using gloves. Slowly massage and allow the mixture to come in contact with your hair completely. Put on a bathing cap and wait for 5 hours. Wash your hair clean with warm water.

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This bitter herb sure has some benefits, doesn’t it? So, why don’t you start including it in your routine right away?

And tell us how this post has helped you. Just leave a comment in the box below.

Expert’s Answers for Readers Questions

Is gentian violet toxic?

No, it is not. But since there is little research on this subject, we suggest you talk to your doctor before using this herb – especially so if you have a health condition already.

Is it safe for babies?

Yes. But some babies might develop skin irritation. We recommend you talk to your baby’s pediatrician.

How to remove the gentian violet from skin?

You can saturate a small cotton swab with some vodka or isopropyl alcohol to help remove it from your skin.


  1. Gentian violet induces...”. US National Library of Medicine.
  2. Using herbal remedies to maintain…”. US National Library of Medicine.
  3. Gentian violet 1% solution…”. US National Library of Medicine.
  4. Topical gentian violet compared...”. US National Library of Medicine.
  5. An innovative scalp-dyeing…”. US National Library of Medicine.
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Alexandra Dusenberry is a registered dietitian nutritionist and a certified personal trainer based in San Diego, California. She has 6 years of experience and works with clients around the world to help them reach their health and fitness goals.

Read full bio of Alexandra Dusenberry
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