From London's Ghost Acres

Gentian root comes from the genus of flowering plants, Gentiana. (

Gentian is used to treat a wide range of ailments in the Compendium, including gout, scrofula, worms, dyspepsia, epilepsy, and jaundice.

British Pharmacopoeia 1867

Gentian Root Gentianae Radix

“The dried root of Gentiana lutea… Collected in the mountainous districts of Central and Southern Europe.”[1]


“From half an inch to one inch in thickness, several inches in length, often twisted, much wrinkled, or marked with close transverse rings; brown externally, yellow within, tough and spongy; taste at first sweet, afterwards very bitter.” Used in preparations of:[2]

  • Extractum Gentianae
  • Infusum Gentianae compositum
  • Mistura Gentianae
  • Tinctura Gentianae composite

Preparations of Gentian

Extract of Gentian / Extractum Gentianae [3]

  • gentian root, sliced (1 pound), boiling distilled water (1 gallow)
  • dose: 2-10 grains

Compound Infusion of Gentian / Infusum Gentianae Compositum [4]

  • gentian root, sliced (60 grains), bitter orange peel, cut small (60 grains), fresh lemon peel, cut small (1/4 oz), boiling distilled water (10 fl oz)
  • dose: 1-2 fl oz

Gentian Mixture / Mistura Gentianae[5]

  • syn: infusum gentianae compositum, 1864
  • gentian root, sliced (1/4 oz), bitter orange peel, cut small (30 grains), coriander fruit, bruised (30 grains), proof spirit (2 fl oz), distilled water (8 fl oz)
  • dose: ½-1 fl oz

Compound Tincture of Gentian / Tinctura Gentianae Composita[6]

  • gentian root, cut small and bruised (1 ½ oz), bitter-orange peel, cut small and bruised (3/4 oz), cardamom seeds, freed from the pericarps and bruised (1/5 oz), proof spirit (1 pint)
  • dose: ½-2 fl drachms

A Compendium of Domestic Medicine, 1865

Receiving its name from Gentius, King of Illyria (167 BCE). Used to treat gout, scrofula, amenorrhoea, worms, and dyspepsia. It is a large component of “the celebrated Portland Powder.”[7]

Remedies Containing or to be used with

  • Acid, Nitro-Muriatic, Diluted: tincture of gentian included in draught to treat dyspepsia, heartburn, &c.[8]
  • Aloes, Socotrine: powdered gentian included in “The Aperient and Tonic Aloetic Pills,” and extract of gentian included in “The Aloetic Pills.”[9]
  • Alum, Common: extract of gentian included in “Alum Pills, for Spitting of Blood”[10]
  • Ammonia, Sessquicarbonate of: extract of gentian included in “Antacid Pills, for Heartburn and Gouty Habits”[11]
  • Dandelion: tincture of gentian included in a mixture used to treat “chronic affections of the liver” [12]
  • Extract of Gentian: stomachic and tonic[13]
  • Extract of Ox-Gall: extract of gentian used n “Stomachic Aperient Pills)[14]
  • Gentian Root: compound infusion of gentian included in a draught used to treat dyspepsia, dyspepsia accompanied by nausea.[15]
  • Infusions, Concentrated of Cloves, Calumbo, Cascarilla, Chamomile, Gentian, Orange Peel, Quassia, Rhubarb, Roses, and Senna: “allow large doses to be given in a small bulk.”[16]
  • Soluble Tartar: infusion of gentian used in “An Aperient Draught,”[17]
  • Spirit of Turpentine: used by Dr Walker (of leeds) in combination with tincture of gentian to treat tapeworm.[18]
  • Tincture of Gentian: stomachic, bitter, and cordial, used to restore appetite and strengthen the stomach.[19]

Diseases Treated with

General Diseases

  • Epilepsy: extract of gentian used in pills used to treat epilepsy resulting from “weakened or nervous irritability”[20]
  • Gout: infusion of gentian included in a stomachic purgative to be given when treating gout that “attacks the stomach, accompanied with numbness of the limbs and a rapid palpitation of the heart.”[21]
  • Dyspepsia, or Indigestion: compound infusion of gentian is included in a draught used to treat indigestion that results from over stimulation.[22]
  • Jaundice: Plummer’s pills are to be given along with mild bitters, one of which can be gentian.[23]
  • Menstruation Suppression of the Menses: an infusion of gentian or senna is the recommended purgative to use for treatment of this disease.[24]

Medical Articles Containing

  • Sir Henry Halford’s Gout Preventive: infusion of gentian[25]

Prescriptions Containing


  • Antacid Draught (Another): infusion of gentian[26]

Aperients and Cathartics

  • Aperient Mixture: infusion of gentian[27]


  • Diuretic and Tonic Draught: infusion of gentian[28]
  • Diuretic and Tonic Draught (Another): infusion of gentian[29]


  • Tonic Mixture: tincture of gentian[30]
  • Tonic Mixture (Another)): infusion of gentian[31]
  • Tonic and Aperient Pills: extract of gentian[32]
  • Tonic, Stomachic and Aperient Pills: extract of gentian[33]


  1. General Medical Council of Great Britain, British Pharmacopeia, (London: Spottiswoode & Co.,1867), 144
  2. GMCGB, 144
  3. GMCGB, 119
  4. GMCGB, 161
  5. GMCGB, 211
  6. GMCGB, 332
  7. Savory, John. A Compendium of Domestic Medicine (London: John Churchill and Sons, 1865), 69.
  8. Savory, 7
  9. Savory, 13
  10. Savory, 15
  11. Savory, 17
  12. Savory, 53
  13. Savory, 63
  14. Savory, 67
  15. Savory, 69
  16. Savory, 84
  17. Savory, 138
  18. Savory, 143
  19. Savory, 158
  20. Savory, 230
  21. Savory, 234
  22. Savory, 243
  23. Savory, 245
  24. Savory, 247
  25. Savory, 296
  26. Savory, 307
  27. Savory, 311
  28. Savory, 325
  29. Savory, 325
  30. Savory, 334
  31. Savory, 334
  32. Savory, 334
  33. Savory, 335