Centaury – The Stomach Bitter

USES: Indigestion, Hiatus hernia, Gastric reflux.

Centaury (Centaurium umbellatum) is well known to herbalists as a ‘stomach bitter’ – one of the classes of herbs with bitter taste and used to aid digestion. For these herbs, it is important to taste the bitterness – and because of this, it is better to use herbs such as Centaurium as a tincture taken 5 minutes before meals.

Centaurium umbellatum

Centaury has been used as the classic stomach bitter for many years. Bitter herbs or bitter tasting foods used to form a significant part of the diet. Nowadays these have practically disappeared with the trend towards more convenient, inoffensive and easy to eat food.

HOW IT WORKS: Centaury owes its bitter taste to a group of compounds called bitter glycosides. The bitterness of food on the tongue plays a very important role in the digestive process. Naturopaths have long believed that digestion starts in the mouth and this has now been shown using physiological testing. The taste of bitter foods stimulates the appetite and triggers the secretion of digestive juices in the stomach, which improves the breakdown of food.

At the same time the hormone Gastrin is secreted by the walls of the stomach. This improves the digestive process, by improving the passage of food from the stomach to the intestines.

Another important action of Gastrin is to tighten the ‘valve’ between the oesophagus and stomach, which is important in reducing the symptoms associated with a hiatus hernia, such as gastric reflux.

Comments are closed.