Chinese Gentian

Our herbal monograph of the month is Chinese gentian, the main ingredient in our Chinese Bitters tincture.

There are many herbs in the gentian family, used all over the world. All are valued for their positive effect on liver health and liver functioning. However, the particular form of gentian that we use, with the Latin name of gentian scabra, came to Julia’s attention many years ago when one of her uncles was told he had not long to live by a Western doctor.

According to the family, he was 67 years old and his liver was failing, causing him to feel tired and weak. His hands became dark in colour due to poor blood supply. A Chinese doctor prescribed Chinese gentian to him, and after using this herb for a number of months, his situation was completely reversed. His liver was returned to health and he ended up living to the ripe old age of 90.

This family story made quite an impression on Julia, so when she was told that her own liver was weak and congested, there was no question that she would take Chinese gentian herself. Before creating her own unique tincture containing Chinese gentian, she read many classic Chinese herbal texts, searching out as many different formulas as she could, before coming up with her own. She knew that her own formula would need to be special – it would have to be free of estrogenic activity. Otherwise, it risked flaring her symptoms of endometriosis.

According to Chinese medicine, Chinese gentian is known to clear damp-heat from the liver area. In Western terms, this means it reduces inflammation in the liver, and also helps to release excess fluids from the body. Oral ingestion of Chinese gentian has been shown to increase the production and excretion of bile in dogs[1]. It also has hepato-protective (liver protective) effects in mice[2], and has had good results in treating high liver enzyme levels and chronic hepatitis[3]. It has strong anti-bacterial properties, protecting against salmonella, and staphylococcus infections, among other types of bacteria[4].

Our Chinese Bitters tincture is one of our most popular tinctures. Customers use it for several weeks to prepare for a liver and gallbladder flush, and then, even after their flushing is done, they continue to take Chinese Bitters regularly for years because they find it so helpful. If you are interested in learning more about Chinese gentian, or our Chinese Bitters tincture, give us a call, or send us an email.

  1. Yun Nan Yi Yao (Yunan Medicine and Herbology), 1991; 12(5):304
  2. Ibid.
  3. Shang Hai Zhong Yi Yao Za Zhi (Shanghai Journal of Chinese Medicine and Herbology), 1965; 4:4
  4. Zhong Yao Yao Li Yu Ying Yong (Pharmacology and Applications of Chinese Herbs), 1983; 295
About the author: Rebecca Wong has an honours degree in English Literature from the University of Waterloo, and has been working in the herbal business since 2000. She has received her training in acupuncture and herbalism from respected authorities Paul Des Rosiers and Vu Le at the Ontario College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Toronto, and Michael Tierra at the East West Herb School in California.

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