Other Names: Petite centaurée (French); Echtes Tausendgüldenkraut (German); centaurea minore (Italian); centaura manor (Spanish).
Description: Centaurium represents a complex of at least 12 subspecies. It is a sparse, erect biennial of about 0.5 m high. A basal rosette of oblong leaves is tbrrned in the first year and a slender, much-branched flowering stalk bearing small pink flowers emerges in the second year.
Origin: Europe and the Mediterranean; products mainly from eastern Europe and North Africa.
Parts Used: Dried aerial parts, collected while the plant is in flower (Centaurii herba).
Therapeutic Category: Bitter tonic (dyspepsia).
Uses and Properties: A bitter tonic to help support digestive disturbances, chronic dyspepsia, and lack of appetite. Traditionally thought to be helpful to help support fever and gastrointestinal, liver, bile, bladder and urological complaints. Externally used for wound support.
Active Ingredients: The plant contains bitter iridoid glycosides, so-called secoiridoids - mainly swertiamarin but also gentiopicrin, deacetylcentapicrin and sweroside. Small amounts of dimeric secoiridoids, such as centauroside, occur with flavonoids, xanthone derivatives (such as methylbellidifolin), other phenolics (phenylpropanoids), triterpenes, sterols and trace amounts of secoiridoid alkaloids.
Health Effects: The bitter iridoids are known to act as appetite stimulants by reflectorily increasing the flow of saliva and gastric juices. Some anti-inflammatory and antipyretic (fever reducing) activity has been shown in animal studies.
Notes: Small quantities of centaury are added as a bitter food flavouring to foodstuffs and to alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Centaurium species all have bitter iridoid glycosides; several of them can be used to support health, e.g. the Chilean C. chilense is an ingredient of homoeopathy.
Status: Traditional health; Pharm.; Comm. E+; ESCOP 6.
Preparation and Dosage: The crude herb, tincrures or extracts are included in supportives and supplements. In Europe, a bitter tonic tea is prepared by steeping one heaped teaspoon of the dried herb in a cup of cold water for several hours and then heating it to drinking temperature. The recommended daily dose is 6 g of the crude herb or 1 - 2 g of extract.
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Hot tea brewing method: Bring freshly drawn cold water to a rolling boil. Place 1 tea bag for each cup into the teapot. Pour the boiling water into the pot, cover and let steep for 2-4 minutes. Pour into your cup; add milk and sugar to taste.
Iced tea brewing method: (to make 1 liter/quart): Place 5 tea bags into a teapot or heat resistant pitcher. Pour 1 1/4 cups of freshly boiled water over the tea itself. Steep for 5 minutes. Quarter fill a serving pitcher with cold water. Pour the tea into the serving pitcher straining the tea bags. Add ice and top-up with cold water. Garnish and sweeten to taste.
Do not use centaury when suffering from ulcers of the stomach or duodenum.
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Products are intended to support general well being and are not intended to treat, diagnose, mitigate, prevent, or cure any condition or disease. If conditions persist, please seek advice from your medical doctor. Information provided at ZooScape.com relies partly on Traditional Uses. The essence of the current American rule on Traditional Uses is, as stated by FTC, "Claims based on historical or traditional use should be substantiated by confirming scientific evidence, or should be presented in such a way that consumers understand that the sole basis for the claim is a history of use of the product for a particular purpose."