Medicinal plants

Centaurium - Centaurium erythraea

Centaurium - Centaurium erythraea

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The centaury has been very popular as a medicinal plant since ancient times - especially against stomach problems and skin inflammation. Our grandparents knew it as a medicine to get rid of the annoying roundworms. Studies show a strong effect against pathogenic fungi.

Fact sheet for the centaury

  • Scientific name: Centaurium centaurium, Centaurium erythraea
  • Common names: Bitter herb, Erdgallenkraut, Fieberkraut, red aurine, Gulden herb, God's herb, Aderntee, Allerheiltsheil, Our Lady Wegstroh, Schrikräuel, Toll-dog herb, taste flower, thousand power, mother herb, apothermic flower, Auger herb, stomach herb, wound herb
  • application areas:
    • Stomach discomfort,
    • Fever,
    • Loss of appetite,
    • dyspeptic ailments,
    • Liver and biliary problems
  • Parts of plants used: upper, dried parts of flowering plants


Centaury contains biologically active components, including bitter substances such as secoiridoid glycosides (swertiamarin), gentiopikrin and sweroside. Centapicrine and diacetylcentapicrine are particularly bitter, but the plant only contains them in small quantities. Xanthones, flavonoids, triterpenes (oleanolic acid, ß-sitosterol, oleanolic acid lactone, maslinic acid, erythrodiol, stigmasterol, campesterol and others) as well as phenol carboxylic acid derivatives, including caffeic acid, syringic and ferulic acid. Added to this are sugar, essential oils and magnesium lactate.

Effects - stomach upset and digestive problems

Centaurium has strong antimicrobial properties and is particularly effective against stomach complaints, both against feelings of fullness and constipation as well as against the pain caused by gallstones and other complaints in the liver and bile. The bitter substances stimulate gastric juice and saliva production and thus promote digestion.

The plant has a proven strong activity against pathogenic fungi and a medium activity against pathogenic bacteria. Antioxidative effects have also been scientifically proven.

Centaury relieves the symptoms of gastritis and inflammation of the stomach and also liver congestion and helps against flatulence, constant regurgitation, abdominal pain and heartburn. The plant cleanses the blood, inhibits inflammation, soothes, stimulates and strengthens the circulation.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) recommends Centaury against mild indigestion and other stomach and intestinal complaints as well as with temporary loss of appetite. If symptoms persist despite the herb having been consumed for more than two weeks, you should consult a doctor or other health professional.

What do the scientific evidence say?

There are very few studies on the effectiveness of centaury. Nevertheless, the EMA assesses the observed effects of long-term intake of extracts, teas, etc. from the plant as evidence for the effect against stomach problems.

Who shouldn’t consume centaury?

The plant has traditionally been used against ulcers in the stomach and intestines. The EMA, on the other hand, strongly advises you not to take centaury if you have ulcers like this. The plant should only be taken by adults, not children.

Complementary medicine - rheumatoid arthritis and eczema

In complementary medicine, envelopes and compresses with centaury also serve as a remedy for abscesses, eczema and rheumatoid arthritis, as well as for faster healing of external wounds. Although hard evidence is lacking, the plant's anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties have generally been proven - so the positive effects on the conditions described are logical.

In traditional Chinese medicine, the plant serves as a remedy for diseases of the digestive tract. Even in homeopathy, the whole, fresh plant is the starting point for preparations. However, these then no longer contain any demonstrably bioactive substances.

Naturopathy - digestion and circulatory problems

In naturopathy, centaury is recommended for a healthy diet, since it helps against excessive obesity by stimulating digestion and at the same time does not supply harmful substances or remove useful substances from the body.

In naturopathy, teas made from the plant's dried flowers are used to stimulate the production of gastric juice and thus use a functioning digestion to manage circulatory problems. This tea is also said to lower fever.

In naturopathy, the treatment of existing diseases with centaury is associated with disease prevention and a general healthy diet. Tea blends are common, which contain, in addition to centaury, for example calamus root, gentian root and fennel. Mixtures with caraway or black cumin are also suitable to strengthen the digestive properties.

Folk medicine - worm infestation and wound healing

Centaury got its Latin name in ancient times and has been used as a medicinal plant for a very long time - people in different cultures used it independently. In addition to the effects described, the herb also serves as a medicine for menstrual cramps, diabetes, exhaustion, fever, anemia, jaundice (hepatitis, jaundice), malaria and enlarged spleen. In Europe, centaury was above all a worm killer, so it was used to heal people who suffered from roundworms like tapeworms. In southern Europe it was used as a remedy for snake and spider bites and stings of scorpions and hornets.

As in evidence-based medicine, the plant is primarily known in folk medicine as a remedy for various complaints of the gastrointestinal tract, as indicated by names such as gastric herb. Traditionally, it has been used against ulcers in the stomach and intestines. Other names show that the herb also serves to purify the blood (arthropod), lower fever (fever herb), heal wounds (wound herb) or as an all-round medicine (common good).

Folk medicine also used millennium herb against diseases for which it is definitely not effective. The name Tollhundskraut indicates that our ancestors used it against the consequences of a bite from dogs suffering from rabies. Against the rabies virus, as the saying goes, “no herb can be grown”. Only a vaccination helps here.

Screeching claw shows that the plant also had a magical component in popular belief. This is how it should scream witches, that is to say.

In Ukraine, brandy tinctures with centaury are still popular for treating external wounds, rash, eczema, acne and infected pimples, and insect bites.

Stomach tea

The traditionally most widespread and at the same time easiest way to apply centaury medicinally is a tea. To do this, we put about a teaspoon of the dried herb per cup in cold water and let it steep for about eight hours. We pour the tea through a sieve and slowly warm it up to approximate body temperature.

You can also pour boiling water over the crushed parts of the plant. But then you need about twice as much of the dried drug to get the effect. The hot water with the herb takes about ten minutes, after which you strain everything. You drink two small cups in small sips before each meal.

Tip: Not everyone likes the bitter taste. You can add a small teaspoon of honey per cup or mix the herb with other medicinal plants that complement the effect and taste less intrusive at the same time. Fennel seeds with their sweetish aroma are particularly suitable.

Medical history

The Latin name comes from the centaur Chiron, a mythical creature with the lower body of a horse and the upper body of a human being. In the myth, this is said to have got an arrow in the foot (hoof). He then healed his wound with the centaurium (kentaurion to micron).

The German name "Thousand Guldenkraut" is based on a misunderstanding: It is derived from "worth a thousand guilders" and refers to the supposedly high value of the plant. Someone misunderstood the centaurea or centaurium as centum aurei (100 guilders). So horse people became pieces of money.

Spreading of the centaury herb

Centaurium is a deciduous plant that grows biennially. In Germany it is strictly protected, in Europe it occurs from the Mediterranean to Central Scandinavia and prefers nutrient-rich meadows and sunny semi-dry locations. It also settles in forest clearings. Thousands of golden guilds are found in the mountains at an altitude of 1400 meters. (Dr. Utz Anhalt)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • European Medicines Agency. Science Medicines Health: Herbal medicine: summary for the public. Centaury. Centaurium erythraea Rafn. s.l., herba, EMA / 824095/2015, 2 February 2016, ema.europa
  • Sargin, Seyid; Akcicek, E .; Selvi, Selami: An ethnobotanical study of medicinal plants used by the local people of Alaşehir (Manisa) in Turkey. In: Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Volume 150, Issue 2, Pages 860-874, December 2013, sciencedirect
  • Siler, Branislav et al .: Centauries as underestimated food additives: Antioxidant and antimicrobial potential. In: Food Chemistry, Volume 147, Pages 367-376, March 2014,, sciencedirect

Video: Tausendgüldenkraut Centaurium erythraea in Rottenegg (August 2022).