Gentian is a bitter herb, with its roots used for centuries in herbalism to greatly support the digestive system. It is used for problems such as loss of appetite, intestinal gas, diarrhea, gastritis, heartburn, and vomiting. Its uses can venture even further into preventing muscle spasms and aiding in menstrual periods due to its ability to fight inflammation and swelling.
As mentioned, gentian is a bitter root. In herbalism, bitters are those that have a predominantly bitter taste. Bitters expose us to more diversity that is often missing in our diet, as they come from plants and botanical species that are purposely left out of conventional and modern food production. We are severely lacking those bitter tasting plants, and often sticking with flavor profiles based on sweetness and salt. Without bitters, the process of digestion never gets pushed to its full potential.
The age old tradition of a salad before dinner is thought to support this in priming the body for digestion, as the greens eaten before the meal, often bitter with things like dandelion greens, were used to stimulate digestion and activate. So although bitters are champions in digestive support, they also indicate to us that we are eating something with incredible phytonutrient density, wild chemistry, and helps improve an important source of dietary diversity.
Gentian helps awaken and strengthen our gut in a number of ways. Its affinity for working in the stomach, both emotionally and physically, makes it an excellent choice of bitter to go to work where it is needed at that time. Gentian root may decrease blood pressure, so it is not recommended to use gentian root in combination with blood pressure medications as it could lower it too much.
I use gentian root regularly in the form of a tincture/spray to put on my tongue a few minutes before eating to stimulate my digestive juices and help create a more comfortable experience eating, while increasing the plant/taste diversity in my diet!