Centaury

Part of the plant used for medicinal purposes: centaury plant (Centaurii herba)

Other names: feverfoullie, gentian.

Description and harvesting

Centaury is an annual or biennial herb with a basal rosette and several, up to 40 cm tall, erect branched stems. Inflorescences contain many flowers of bright red colour. The entire plant has a bitter taste. It grows on meadows and can adapt to any kind of soil. It is already pretty sparse in Slovenia. It belongs to the gentian family (Gentianaceae). When the plant flowers from June to September, the upmost 20 cm of the plants are cut and dried in a shade to preserve the bright red colour of the flowers. The dried herb is odourless and very bitter. 4 kg of the herb gives 1 kg of dried herb.

Constituents and medicinal use

Centaury is one of the most widely known medicinal herbs in Slovenia. It is one of the amara pura substances, which are pure bitter drugs (the usable part of the medicinal herb). In addition to centaury, amara pura substances include the yellow gentian root and bogbean. The bitter compounds in these plants stimulate the production of saliva in our mouth and gastric juices, which stimulates appetite and digestion. Centaury contains a very bitter substance, gentiopicrin, whose bitter value is 12,000, meaning that if diluting one part of centaury with 12,000 parts of water, water would still taste bitter.
Centaury strengthens a weakened stomach, helps with constipation and speeds up digestion, stimulates bile production in the liver and bile release from the gallbladder. In traditional medicine, it is also known for its invigorating effect, which is why it is added to tea blends for strength and immunity. It relieves smooth muscle spasms and protects the liver. It is helpful in case of weakness, anorexia or poor appetite, exhaustion, anxiety, dyspepsia and constipation. 
Centaury is not recommended to people with gastric or duodenal ulcer and people with gastric acid hypersecretory states.

Monk Simon Ašič’s product containing centaury:

Sources:

1. Galle-Toplak Katja. Zdravilne rastline na Slovenskem. Založba Mladinska knjiga, Ljubljana, 2002.
2. Kreft S. Sodobna fitoterapija. Slovensko farmacevtsko društvo, Ljubljana, 2013.
3. Tomažič, Logar. Zdravilna zelišča in gozdni sadeži. Podjetje »Gosad«, Ljubljana, 1950.

Centaurium erythraea L.

Product containing centaury:

Centaury