Traditional names: feverfoullie, gentian, centaury, „ground gall”, „gall-grass”, „stomach-grass”.
The common centaury is a perennial or biannual plant belonging to the gentian family and to the Gentianales order. It has a thin and spindle-shaped, slightly branching root. Its thin, four-pointed, hairless stem has branches only at the top and grows up to 10-40 cm tall. The lanceolate leaves with whole edges are arranged oppositely. It has fake umbrelliferous flowers, blooming in July-August. The fruit is a 20 mm long cylindrical case. It has very small, irregularly squared, brown seeds.
The common centaury is native to Europe, Western Asia and Northern Africa. In our region it grows first of all in deforestation areas, at bushy fringe of forests and on wet fields.
According to an ancient Greek legend Chiron, the centaur was healed by common centaury after his injury, the name of the plant originates from this story. It was an appreciated medicinal plant already in the ancient times and in the middle ages.
Pick the flowering upper part of the plant when it is light green and the flowers pink or red, from June to August. Dry it in thin layers, in a shady and dry space. Turn them carefully to avoid the leaves falling down from the plant.
The main active substances of its drug are the secoiridoid glycosides which assure the bitter taste of the plant. It also contains flavonoids, oleanolic acid, nicotinic acid, gentianine and a little bit of alkaloid.
Common centaury can be used alone or mixed with other medicinal plants for enhancing appetite, aiding digestion and as an antibilious. Centaury tea soothes tympany. It is often used in case of liver diseases as depurant. In traditional medicine it was used to soothe fever, to get rid of intestinal worms and against brain-fag. Homeopathy uses fresh common centaury to soothe stomach-ache. It also can be found in bitter liqueurs. It is prohibited in case of ulcer!
Tea: infuse 1 teaspoon of dry drug with 1 cup of boiling water and strain it in 15 minutes. Another possibility to make centaury tea is to macerate 1 teaspoon of drug in 3 dl cold water for 8-10 hours. Then warm it up (without boiling) and sweeten with honey. In order to enhance appetite, drink it half an hour before you meal, for better digestion it is recommended after having consumed your meal.