Gentiana lutea L.

Last updated: 04 May 2017

Scientific Name

Gentiana lutea L.


Asterias hybrida G.Don, Asterias lutea (L.) Borkh., Coilantha biloba Bercht. & J.Presl, Gentiana major Bubani, Gentianusa lutea (L.) Pohl, Lexipyretum luteum Dulac [Unresolved], Swertia lutea Vest ex Rchb [Unresolved]. [1]

Vernacular Name

English Gentian, [2] great yellow gentian, [3] yellow gentian, bitter root, bitterwort, centiyane, genciana [4]
France Gentiane jaune, grande gentian [3]
German Gelber enzian [3]
Sweden Gullgentiana [3].

Geographical Distributions

Gentiana lutea is native to Europe in the Central and Eastern sections of the continent. The plant thrives in areas such as plains and pastures and also requires full sunlight. [4]

Botanical Description

G. lutea is a member of Gentianaceae family. [1] It is an herbaceous perennial plant, growing up to 1–2 m (3.3–6.6 ft) tall. [4]

The leaves are broad lanceolate to elliptic, measuring of 10–30 cm (3.9–11.8 in) long and 4–12 cm (1.6–4.7 in) broad. [4]

The flowers are yellow, with the corolla separated nearly to the base into 5–7 narrow petals. It grows in grassy alpine and sub-alpine pastures, usually on calcareous soils. [4]


No documentation.

Chemical Constituent

G. lutea root was found to contain alkaloids including 0.5-0.8% gentianine and gentialutine; secoiridoid bitter substances including 2-3% gentiopicroside, swertiamarin and sweroside; the acylglycoside amarogentin; xanthones including gentisin, isogentisin; gentioside, saccharose; trisaccharide; 5-8% gentiobiose. [5]

Plant Part Used

Roots. [4]

Traditional Use

G. lutea is traditionally used as a digestive tonic to help support a healthy gastrointestinal tract, although little research exists in this area. [6]

Preclinical Data


Antimicrobial activity

G. lutea root extracts have been reported to have inhibitory activity against H. pylori in laboratory studies. [7]

Methanol extract of leaves and flowers of G. lutea was found to exhibit antimicrobial activity against a variety of Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria as well as the yeast Candida albicans with MIC values ranging from 0.12-0.31 mg/mL. [8]

Analgesic activity

The phytochemical constituent gentiopicroside isolated from G. lutea has been reported in laboratory animal studies to produce significant analgesic effects against persistent inflammatory pain stimuli. [9]

Another constituent, gentianine isolated from G. lutea has also been found to have significant anti-inflammatory activity in laboratory studies, partly based on the suppressed production of TNF-alpha and IL-6. [10]

Antioxidant activity

The laboratory studies have found that G. lutea root extracts have antioxidant activity. The antioxidant effect of G. lutea extract against ketoconazole (KET)-induced testicular damage was evaluated in male Wistar rats. Results showed that most of the KET-induced effects were greatly decreased with the concomitant application of G. lutea extract. [11]

Methanol extract of leaves and roots of G. lutea was found to exhibit antioxidant activity. The results of G. lutea methanolic extracts were compared with the antioxidant capacity of synthetic antioxidant butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA). This study proves that G. lutea leaves and roots exhibit considerable antioxidant properties, expressed either by their capability to scavenge DPPH or superoxide radicals. [12]


No documentation.

Clinical Data

Clinical findings

No documentation.


No documentation.

Side effects

Discontinue if allergy occurs.

G. lutea has been reported safe in recommended doses. G. lutea should not be used in peptic ulceration. [13]

Pregnancy/Breast Feeding

Due to lack of safety data, G. lutea should not be used in pregnancy or lactation. [14]

Age limitation

No documentation.

Adverse reaction

No documentation.

Interaction & Depletion

Interaction with drug

Based on pharmacology, use with caution in individuals taking MAO inhibitors, as G. lutea root has been reported in laboratory studies to contain MAO-B (and to a lesser extent MAO-A) inhibitor constituents. [15]

Interaction with other Herbs

No documentation.


No documentation.


No documentation.

Poisonous Management

No documentation.

Line drawing

No documentation.


  1. The plant List. Ver1.1. Gentiana lutea L. [homepage on the Internet]. c2013 [updated 2012 Mar 23; cited 2017 May 04]. Available from:
  2. Tropics. Gentiana lutea L. [homepage on the Internet]. c2017 [updated 2017 May 03; cited 2017 May 04]. Available from:
  3. GBIF. Global Biodiversity Information Facility. Gentiana lutea L. [homepage on the Internet]. No date [cited 2017 May 04]. Available from:
  4. Encyclopedia of Life. Gentiana lutea (Yellow gentian). [homepage on the Internet]. No date [cited 2017 May 04]. Available from:
  5. Toriumi Y, Kakuda R, Kikuchi M, Yaoita Y, Kikuchi M. New terpenoids from Gentiana lutea. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo). 2003;51(1):89-91.
  6. Mu Z, Yu Y, Gao H, Jiao W, Yao X. Chemical and pharmacological research for Sect. Aptera (Gentiana). Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 2009;34(16):2012-2017. Chinese.
  7. Mahady GB, Pendiand SL, Stoia A, et al. In vitro susceptibility of Helicobacter pylori to botanical extracts used traditionally for the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders. Phytother Res. 2005;19(11):988-991.
  8. Savikin K, Menković N, Zdunić G, Stević T, Radanović D, Janković T. Antimicrobial activity of Gentiana lutea L. extracts. Z Naturforsch C. 2009;64(5-6):339-342.
  9. Chen L, Liu JC, Zhang XN, et al. Down-regulation of NR2B receptors partially contributes to analgesic effects of Gentiopicroside in persistent inflammatory pain. Neuropharmacology. 2008;54(8):1175-1181.
  10. Kwak WJ, Kim JH, Kim JH, Ryu KH, Cho YB, Jeon SD, Moon CK. Effects of gentianine on the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines in male Sprague-Dawley rats treated with lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Biol Pharm Bull. 2005;28(4):750-753.
  11. Amin A. Ketoconazole-induced testicular damage in rats reduced by Gentiana extract. Exp Toxicol Pathol. 2008;59(6):377-384.
  12. Kusar A, Zupancic A, Sentjurc M, Baricevic D. Free radical scavenging activities of yellow gentian (Gentiana lutea L.) measured by electron spin resonance. Hum Exp Toxicol. 2006;25(10):599-604.
  13. Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinckmann J. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. Chestnut Street, Newton: Integrative Medicine Communications, 2000; p. 149-152.
  14. Know more. Be sure. Gentian. [homepage on the Internet]. c2000-2017 [cited 2017 May 04]. Available from:
  15. Haraguchi H, Tanaka Y, Kabbash A, Fujioka T, Ishizu T, Yagi A. Monoamine oxidase inhibitors from Gentiana lutea. Phytochemistry. 2004;65(15):2255-2260.