centaury large copy Centaury

Centaury | Centaurium erythraea

general characteristics

general characteristics

Common names include centaury, common centaury, feverwort, red centaury.
Centaury is a biennial or sometimes annual plant belonging to the Gentianaceae family. It is named after Chiron, the centaur in Greek mythology who healed his wounds with the plant.
It is found all over the UK, Europe, North Africa, parts of Asia and was introduced into North America. It can be found growing along sunny forest paths and rides, open chalk or lime scrub, heathland ,cliffs and quarries.
Its prolific small pink flowers with yellow stamens appear from May to September in the UK. The flowers are often in thick clusters, arising from an erect upright stem, the whole flowering plant being around 12 inches tall. Flowers close after midday and in overcast or wet weather.

Centaury tincture is available to buy in our herbal shop.

harvesting and preparation

harvesting and preparation

The whole herb is used, cut or picked just above ground level just as it begins to flower. The flowering tops alone can also be used.
Dry on a tray and crumble into a storage jar when fully dried. Store in a cool dark place.

Centuary tincture is available to buy in our herbal shop.

therapeutic actions and uses

therapeutic actions and uses

Centaury is most known as a prime bitter digestive tonic used in cases of indigestion, bloating and gas. Being a member of the Gentian family it is slightly milder yet equally as effective as the yellow gentian (Gentiana lutea) but can act alone perfectly well as a 'simple' (i.e. single herb) tea. It has a beneficial tonic like action on the stomach (can be used in gastritis, gastro-enteritis and heartburn) , liver, spleen, pancreas and gallbladder and is also a mild laxative. The plant is rich in bitter principles, anti-oxidants and plant sterols.

It cleanses the liver and gallbladder, encouraging better digestive secretions and can help with obstructions in these organs. It is effective against jaundice. It has an opening action on the fluids secreted from tissues and organs.

Centaury tea has a protective effect in the stomach against stomach ulcer formation, especially ulcers induced from aspirin use.

A very useful herb in diabetes management as it helps regulate blood sugar and blood lipid levels and protects the liver from non-alcoholic fatty liver conditions. it also improves cholesterol levels in the blood.

Its bitter components will increase the appetite in those who need it such as in anorexia yet also lower appetite if blood sugar and fat levels are excessive.


It also has some useful actions on the cardiovascular system and blood vessels. When stents are inserted into thickened and narrowed blood vessels in an effort to open them up, the smooth muscle cells of the blood vessel wall can sometimes go into overdrive and proliferate in response to the stent, causing a re-narrowing and re-thickening of the vessel.  Centaury prevents this re-thickening and is a very useful plant for anyone who has had stents fitted. It will also prove useful in any areas where smooth muscle has over proliferated, which often occurs in response to blood vessel injury or damage such as in arteriosclerosis and atheroma.

It may also be effective against some forms of asthma as it is capable of reducing the thickness of airways.


Centaury can help promote better vision when used as an eyewash for blurred or tired eyes.


It can also help in cases of muscular rheumatism and is anti-inflammatory. It has a good reputation in arthritis, sciatica.


Centaury has a beneficial action on the spleen, protects red blood cells from premature destruction and can help in cases of anaemia. It will soften a hard or enlarged spleen, making it less likely to rupture.


Useful in fevers   to regulate high temperatures as it opens the pores and encourages a cooling sweat. it is also good to use when convalescing from influenza and has been used in the past as a preventative against many other infectious diseases.


Also a great wound herb, it cleanses and disinfects wounds and ulcers (old and new) and promotes better healing of the skin.


Centaury tea is helpful against worms and as a wash to rid body lice and other external parasites.


The herb has a very long held reputation for use in all kinds of poisonings as it is said to protect the heart from poisons, particularly from snake bites. The herbal wash can be used to bathe insect stings and bites.


It stimulates the uterine walls and can therfore bring on a delayed period when used with other herbs for this purpose.


Bach flower remedy of centaury is useful for those who find it difficult to say no to others.




dosage and cautions

dosage and cautions

* Avoid during pregnancy due to uterine stimulation.


Tincture: up to 5ml in water up to 3 times daily.

Dried herb:  1 teaspoon per cup, up to 3 times daily. Take just before or just after meals for digestive benefits.


Add 12 to the child’s age. Divide the child’s age by the total.
E.g. dosage for a 4 year old...... 4 {age} divided by 16 {age + 12} = . 25  or 1/4 of the adult dosage.

Child watering plants




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