Other Uses

Traditionally, gentian has also been used for gout, amenorrhea, diarrhoea and worms in the stomach and bowel (Willard 1991 ). Gentian is also used in alcoholic drinks such as brandy, medicinal wines and vermouth.

Clinical note — Herbs in alcoholic drinks

The maceration of herbs and spices in wine was common practice in antiquity, and the invention of aromatised wine, the ancestor of vermouth, has been attributed to Hippocrates (Liddle & Boero 2003). Herbs are still commonly used in alcoholic drink production today, either as flavourings, or as both fermentation substrates and flavouring agents. The volatile components of a herb will provide its distinctive odour, whereas non-volatile constituents can affect some gustatory reactions and produce a physiological effect. Herbs such as gentian are used for flavour, but also because they contain a significant amount of fermentable sugars that can be converted by strains of yeast into ethanol in an alcoholic fermentation process. Examples of other herbs that are used in brandies, flavoured spirits, liqueurs, medicinal wines and vermouth are anise, caraway, cardamom, coriander, dandelion, sage and yarrow (Veljkovic & Stankovic 2003).

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