My Experience With Gentian Root

My Experience With Gentian Root

Last week I mentioned my use of an herb called Gentian root. For a number of reasons, I am going to share my experience with Gentian in this article.
 

What is Gentian?

Gentian has many nicknames. The name most relevant to our discussion here is bitter root. Typically it is the root of Gentian that is used medicinally. Gentian is also noted as one of the most bitter substances in the world. I’ll get to why this is important very soon. First I want to quickly explain why the bitter taste is important.
 

A Small Primer On Bitters

We evolved as a species to detect bitter tastes for two reasons. One is to detect and avoid poison. The second, is to detect when a plant is more of a medicine than a food. Medicine in excessive quantities can turn into poison.

In a medicinal context, the taste of bitter plays a stimulating role in the body. It triggers responses from our organs that support the absorption and assimilation of nutrients. You can feel this happening as you immediately begin to salivate when you taste something bitter. Poisonous substances can make us salivate too, but for a much different reason.

It is the action of the powerful bitterness of Gentian that is at the root of what I am about to describe.
 

My Gentian Experience

If you haven’t already guessed, I spend a lot of time in front of a computer. I try not to let it go on for too long, but sometimes I just get so engrossed in what I’m doing, it seems like I blink and it’s dark out already.

Sometimes, I have a big project with a fast approaching deadline. Combine perfectionism and a neurosis for always being on time and you get a great recipe for forgetting to do certain things. Like eat.

At one point – against my better judgement – I was in the process of editing a book. If you’ve ever done something like that, you know it is a big job with a lot of detail and huge margin for error. It is wildly time consuming and can relegate even the most robust and fierce of individuals to tears.

While working so much, I slowly lost my appetite. I noticed this happening one night and realized I needed to go for a workout and give my metabolism a nice boot from behind. So I got dressed and went to the gym.

That did not go as planned. I was very sluggish. And I knew exactly why.

Getting myself into that position – again, against my better judgement – put me into a very common bind. I’m really not hungry and I need to develop an appetite. But physical activity doesn’t feel so great because I need to eat. This situation of course played out into my mood. I was crabby and cranky. And really starting to lose my focus.

Fortunately, Kita had already noticed and had grabbed some Gentian root tincture for me. So when I told her what was going on – of course she already knew – she told me to take a dropper full and see what happens.

As an aside, I always know when something is going to have a bit of a strong taste when she stops to watch me take something. She loves it when I make a crazy face after tasting something bitter. Because she knows that really tasting the bitter in herbal medicine is one of the keys to it working well.

And what a face I made. Remember when I said Gentian is considered among botanists to be “one of the most bitter substances in the world?” Ok, well I call it THE most bitter substance I’ve ever tasted! I shuddered and shook like a dog shaking off water.

(The only thing I can think of that is more bitter than Gentian, is chewing on a Balsam Poplar bud. An experience I do not recommend you try at home.)

Within about 10 minutes, I was starving. Ready to eat. And happy about it! My mood was already on the upswing.
 

The Best Meal Of My Life

I mixed up a can of garbanzo beans with micro greens and a little feta, tossed it with some olive oil, sliced a tomato and used the slices to line an ezekial wrap. Then I set my beans on top and put my newly created work of culinary genius on the stove for about 5 minutes.

That was the BEST meal, I have ever had. Not because the dish itself was a chef’s masterpiece, but because of how my body received it.

One of the many actions of Gentian root is to assist in nutrient absorption and assimilation. I could practically hear my cells soaking up nutrition. And I could literally feel my body soaking up nutrients.

Gentian root is contraindicated under the following conditions: gastric and duodenal ulcers, stomach irritability or inflammation, gall stones, bile duct obstruction, pregnancy, nursing, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), excess vata conditions. Check with your doctor if you currently present with or are experiencing any of the above.

Would I have felt so good if I had a couple slices of pizza? Not by a long shot. This experience was the result of a combination of Gentian root and high quality food. Our bodies are super smart. They know good stuff when they get it. And they let us know how happy it makes them.

I am now back in the gym and feeling like my old self.
 

Lessons Learned

The reason Gentian worked for me is because it stimulated my digestive tract and other organs and that was what I needed help with at the time. I do not currently suffer from any chronic or acute illnesses. The experience retaught me a couple of lessons that I thought I already had down. I guess that’s why I needed them re-taught.

First, a much better treatment for me would have been to suck it up and take regular breaks and eat instead of going heads down for 10 hours at a time. Then I wouldn’t have wound up in the pickle I was in.

Second is one that I wrote about myself. It is the whole idea of never letting yourself go hungry. It is a trap that can be hard to recover from. I feel like I got lucky with Gentian because it worked right away.

If you find yourself struggling with poor appetite and that is something you want to change, give Gentian root a shot. Preferably the tincture or the tea. Remember, tasting the bitter is a big part of the medicine. And it does get easier. Gentian doesn’t make me shudder any more so I’m pretty sure I can take on the world now.

In fact – and I know this may sound crazy – I crave it now. Go figure right?
 

Other Uses Of Gentian And A Small Promise

There is a LOT more that Gentian is capable of in addition to poor appetite. I don’t want to keep you from the rest of your day so I will give you a list in a second but please promise me one thing:

Some of the symptoms listed below could be signs of an existing condition that needs immediate medical attention, ie. jaundice, fever, etc. Please do not take our recommendation of Gentian on this website as a prescription of any kind. It is a powerful plant and it can help but it should not be relied on to address medical complications. As with all of our herbs and herbal formulas, we recommend it based on supporting literature to promote healthy structure and function of the body.

Additional potential uses of Gentian: Indigestion, chronic constipation, hepatitis, jaundice, candida, intestinal parasites, obesity, diabetes, sugar addiction, post illness debility, anorexia, malaria, fevers, arthritis, herpes, and disease conditions that lessen the appetite.

Speak to one of our herbal staff members if you feel you could benefit from the actions of Gentian root. And as always, consult with your physician if you are undergoing treatment for any chronic or acute illnesses.

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