Skip to main content


Generic name: gentian [ JEN-shen ]
Drug class: Herbal products

What is gentian?

Gentian is an herb also known as Bitter Root, Bitterwort, Gall Weed, Geneciana, Gentiana acaulis, Gentiana kochiana, Gentiana lutea, Gentianae Radix, Gentiane, Gentiane Acaule, Pale Gentian, Racine Amère, Stemless Gentian, Yellow Centiyane, Wild Gentian and other names.

Gentian has been used in alternative medicine as a possibly effective aid in treating symptoms of sinus infection (sinusitis) when combined with other herbs.

Other uses not proven with research have included high blood pressure, stomach disorders, diarrhea, heartburn, vomiting, fever, menstrual disorders, cancers and others.

It is not certain whether gentian is effective in treating any medical condition. Medicinal use of this product has not been approved by the FDA. Gentian should not be used in place of medication prescribed for you by your doctor.

Gentian is often sold as an herbal supplement. There are no regulated manufacturing standards in place for many herbal compounds and some marketed supplements have been found to be contaminated with toxic metals or other drugs. Herbal/health supplements should be purchased from a reliable source to minimize the risk of contamination.

Gentian may also be used for purposes not listed in this product guide.

Important Information

Follow all directions on the product label and package. Tell each of your healthcare providers about all your medical conditions, allergies, and all medicines you use.

Before taking this medicine

Before using gentian, talk to your healthcare provider. You may not be able to use gentian if you have certain medical conditions.

Ask a doctor, pharmacist, or other healthcare provider if it is safe for you to use this product if you have:

It is not known whether gentian will harm an unborn baby. Do not use this product without medical advice if you are pregnant.

It is not known whether gentian passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. Do not use this product without medical advice if you are breast-feeding a baby.

Do not give any herbal/health supplement to a child without medical advice.

How should I take gentian?

When considering the use of herbal supplements, seek the advice of your doctor. You may also consider consulting a practitioner who is trained in the use of herbal/health supplements.

If you choose to use gentian, use it as directed on the package or as directed by your doctor, pharmacist, or other healthcare provider. Do not use more of this product than is recommended on the label.

Do not use different formulations of gentian (such as tablets, liquids, and others) at the same time, unless specifically directed to do so by a health care professional. Using different formulations together increases the risk of an overdose.

Call your doctor if the condition you are treating with gentian does not improve, or if it gets worse while using this product.

Gentian can affect blood pressure. If you need surgery or dental work, stop taking gentian at least 2 weeks ahead of time.

Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. Do not use extra gentian to make up the missed dose.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

What should I avoid while taking gentian?

Follow your healthcare provider's instructions about any restrictions on food, beverages, or activity.

Avoid using gentian together with other herbal/health supplements that can lower blood pressure, such as andrographis, casein peptides, cat's claw, fish oil, L-arginine, lycium, stinging nettle, and others.

Avoid to confuse gentian with white hellebore (Veratrum album) which is highly toxic and can cause accidental poisoning when used in homemade preparations.

Gentian side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Although not all side effects are known, gentian is thought to be likely safe for most people when taken by mouth in small amounts as part of a combination product.

Common side effects may include:

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What other drugs will affect gentian?

Other drugs may interact with gentian, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Tell each of your health care providers about all medicines you use now and any medicine you start or stop using.

Do not take gentian without medical advice if you are using:

This list is not complete. Other drugs may interact with gentian, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed in this product guide.

More about gentian

Professional resources

Related treatment guides

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.