Medicinal plants

Centaury – Application & Treatment for Health


Centaury has been a highly valued medicinal plant since ancient times Hippocrates already praised this gastric herb, which is still used today as a herbal medicine. However, its occurrence has become very rare, so that this plant is now under strict nature protection and may not be collected in Germany.

Occurrence & cultivation of centaury

The centaury belongs to the gentian family. According to legend, it got its botanical name Centaurium from the medicinal centaur Chiron, who is said to have used this plant to heal the purulent wounds on his horse’s legs. The German name probably comes from a mistranslation of the word syllable centum (hundred) and thus became centaury.

The annual to biennial plant can reach a height of 40 cm. A four-edged stem with a basal leaf rosette and lanceolate, pointed leaves develops from the taproot. From June to September, the light pink flowers of the cymes only open when the temperatures are above 20 degrees Celsius. However, they close when it rains.

The centaury prefers loamy, calcareous, compacted soils on roadsides, meadows or forest clearings. But it can also be found on dry slopes, on boggy or sandy subsoil. Today, the plant genus, with around 20 species, is particularly native to the Mediterranean region of Europe, as well as to Asia and Africa. In North America it is cultivated as a medicinal plant.

Effect & Application

All parts of the flowering herb, with the exception of the root, are used for medicinal purposes. The centaury belongs to the group of amara – drugs containing bitter substances. With a bitterness value of 1:3500 (a bitter taste would still be noticeable in a 3500-fold dilution) it is only surpassed by yellow gentian (1:10000). In addition, flavonoids, xanthones, triterpenes and essential oils can be found in the plant as natural substances with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.

However, the bitter substances are the elements that pharmacologically account for the highest degree of effectiveness. They trigger increased secretion of saliva and digestive juices. The taste buds at the base of the tongue are activated and the vagus nerve is stimulated. This 10th cranial nerve runs from the brain to the abdomen. There it stimulates the glandular cells of the stomach to release more hydrochloric acid and pepsinogens. Liver , bile and pancreas are promoted in their activity.

When the bitter substances have reached the stomach, the hormone gastrin is also released. It also stimulates the production of digestive juices and the motility of the stomach. The resulting degree of acidity provides optimal conditions for the enzyme work. The nutrients are broken down and supplied to their effective areas. Overall, the bitter substances stimulate the appetite, digestion is generally accelerated and the absorption of nutrients is promoted.

Taking centaury as a herbal medicine in this area should always be in the form of teas or tinctures. Tablets, dragees or capsules, on the other hand, should be rejected because they cannot appeal to the taste buds. Furthermore, the herb is processed in bitters or medicinal wines. In addition to the pharmacological effect, the centaury has a phytotherapeutic importance in a variety of ways. It has an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect, regulates circulation, lowers blood pressure and is invigorating; it stimulates the entire metabolism.

During scientific studies, another group of substances was discovered in centaury, which suggests a positive influence on cancer . The substances are so-called eustomines. They are substances that can protect against a tumor by inhibiting cancer-promoting activities. The findings regarding the effectiveness against cancer have not yet been conclusively secured.

Importance for health, treatment & prevention

The explanations about the mode of action show many areas on the health level in which the centaury herb can develop its healing activity preventively or acutely:

The standard approval is as a herbal stomach and intestinal remedy. The main area of ​​application is the digestive system. Stomach herb helps with a feeling of fullness , heartburn and flatulence , as well as with acute or chronic digestive problems and mild diabetes . But it also counteracts loss of appetite and is used to support anorexia and eating disorders .

Viral infections are treated successfully, fever can be reduced. (The plant is also known as fever herb .) The plant is also used to treat mild bladder problems. Centaury unfolds its strengthening effect after long periods of convalescence and severe exhaustion. It is also used to disinfect poorly healing wounds . This is where the antibacterial essential oils develop their effectiveness.

The administration as a tonic, bitters, medicinal wine or tea is particularly suitable for the area of ​​digestion. You can get it already mixed in stores, but you can also make a tea at home from a cold extract. For this purpose, 1 g = 1 teaspoon of the herb is taken in 1 cup of cold water. Brewing time is 6-10 hours. Half an hour before the main meals, a tablespoon is taken so that the effect can unfold.

Since the bitter substances are sensitive to heat, such a cold extract is the first choice. With a warm tea, the leaves should only be scalded. Both types of preparation should only be drunk unsweetened. Envelopes are used for inflammation and skin rashes . A clean cloth is soaked in the cold extract described and placed on the wound. Alternatively, you can use the coarsely crushed leaves.

Tablets, dragees and capsules are administered especially for bladder problems, since the digestive tract is not directly affected. Usually you get a combination preparation that brings together different medicinal plants. The Bach flower Centaury is also used for ailments that are more likely to be caused by mental instability . It is available ready mixed in the pharmacy and should be placed directly on the tongue several times a day with four drops.

Centaury has continued to expand its areas of application as an effective medicinal plant to this day. The plant is used in a wide variety of ways in different dosage forms, although some areas have not yet been fully explored.

Lisa Newlon
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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.