Gentian-Gentiana lutea L., belonging to family Gentianaceae.

2.10.2 Gentian

Synonyms Yellow Gentian; Pale Genetian; Bitter Root; Gentian Root; Radix; Radix Gentianae; Gentiana.
Biological Source Gentian is the dried rhizomes and roots of Gentiana lutea L., belonging to family Gentianaceae.
Geographical Source It is perennial herbaceous tree which is found to be native to the hilly zones in Central and Southern Europe. It is also grown on Vosges mountains, Yugoslavia (now known as Serbia and Crotia) and Jura.
Preparation The long rhizomes and fully grown fleshly roots of 2 to 5 year aged plants are dug up carefully and collected preferably in autumn. The roots and rhizomes are washed thoroughly to get rid of the adhered soil and then sliced into a longitudianal fashion. The freshly sliced pieces of roots and rhizomes generally appear white in colour and do not have any odour. However, during the process of gradual drying in small heaps at a controlled temperature of 50-60oC fermentation commences which eventually turns them into dark or yellow coloured product that have a characteristc odour.
Description The description of root and rhizome of gentian are summarised below:

gentian
Chemical Constituents The principal bitter glycosides of common gentians, which was isolated in 1862 from G. lutea, is gentiopicrin, also known as gentiopicroside. It is present upto 2%.

gentiopicroside
It is a highly water soluble crystalline substance having a bitter value to the extent of 12, 000.
The process of drying and fermentation helps in the cleavage of the above glycoside to gentiogenin and glucose.
The drug also contains amarogenin, which is considerd to be a strongly bitter glucoside that even imparts a distinct bitter taste at 580 thousand time dilutions.

amarogenin
Besides, it contains amaroswerin and gentioside; and gentinin which is a mixture of gentiopicrin and gentinin. It also contains a flavonoid alkaloid commonly known as gentisin (Syn: Gentianic acid; Gentianin; Gentin) and gentisic acid.
Uses
1. It is invariably used as a bitter tonic in anorexia and dyspepsia.
2. It appreciably improves the relatively dull appetite.

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