Home / Chinese Herb / GENTIANA ROOT [龙胆草, LONG DAN CAO]


Name : Gentiana RootsizedGentiana lutea17434_opt

Chinese Name : 龙胆草

Latin Name : Radix Gentianae


This herb is the root and rhizome of Gentiana manshurica Kitag., G. scabra Bge., G triflora Pall., or  G. rigescens Franch. of the family Gentianaceae. It is mainly grown in the northern and southern provinces of China. The herb is collected in autumn,  cleaned, dried, cut into sections, and used unprocessed.

The herb was prescribed for fever, rheumatism, poisonous effluvia of the viscera, fluxes, and general debility. It was used for localized skin diseases, ulcersa and afflictions of the throat. It was especially recommended for nocturnal sweating, hematuria, and ophthalmia.

Gentiana root is an antipyretic and a detoxicant, particularly useful for eliminating Heat and Dampness in the liver and gallbladder. Today, gentiana root is commonly used to treat acute hepatitis, cystitis, bacterial infections of the eyes, ears, and throat, urinary tract infections, conjuctivitis, and hypertension.

Use of Gentiana Root in TCM

Bitter in taste, and cold, it acts on the liver and gallbladder meridians.

Effects, Medicinal Uses, and Combinations

  1. Relieves Heat and Dampness: to treat jaundice, gentiana root is used with capillaris and gardenia. It can also be combined with plantain seed, phellodendron bark, atractylodes, and sophora root in a decoction administered orally or externally to treat scrotal swelling, perineal pruritus, painful and sweating testes, and malodorous, yellowish, thick leukorrhagia.
  2. Relieves intense internal Damp and Heat in the liver and gallbladder: gentiana root is used with fresh rehmannia, bupleurum, scute, and gardenia, as in Long Dan Xie Gan Tang (R-78) or Jia Wei Long Dan Xie Gan Wan , to treat headaches, hypertension, stuffiness and fullness in the head, pain in the hypochondriac region, bitter taste in the mouth, deafness, pain in the ears, sore throat  and bloodshot, swollen and painful eyes caused by Dampness and intense Heat in the liver.
  3. To relieve acute infections, hepatitis, cholecystitis, hepatitis, and pain in the costal regions, gentiana root is combined with capillaris and gardenia in a decoction.


In a decotion of 3 to 6 g


People with Cold and stomach-spleen deficiency should avoid this herb. Avoid an overdose

Side Effects and Toxicity

No undersirable side effects or toxicity were reported at the therapeutic dose in classical Chinese materia medica. It may cause gastrointestinal discomfort, impairment of the stomach, headache, and vertigo when a large dose or overdose is taken.

Chemical Constituents

The root of  G. manshurica  bitter principles, mainly secoiridoid compounds. The major bitter principle is gentiopicroside (gentiopicrin). Sweroside, swertiamarin, amarogentin, and amaroswerin were also isolated and identified. Ingredients including gentianine and swertiamarin were isolated form G. Scabra plant.

Pharmacological Findings

Gentiana root is a broad-spectrum antimicrobial agent against many common pathogenic bacteria. It is a stomachic, increases gastric secretions, and increases appetite. It is hepatoprotective and choleretic. The alkaloid of gentiana inhibits the central nervous system, is a sedative, muscle relaxant, and antipyretic, and lowers the body temperature. The decoction of the herb inhibited the in vitro growth of  P. aeruginosa, Proteus vulgaris, S.typhi, S.aureus,Trichophyton cypsum, and Nocardia asteroides.