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This page is maintained 
by Dr. Lena Struwe 
(e-mail), and hosted by
Rutgers University
, USA

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updated: 01/19/11 

Gentian Violet

 

Gentian violet is a water soluble dye (coloring substance) used primarily in medicine to stain bacteria, but also in other histological procedures.  It is not derived from gentians, but got its name since it is pink-violet like some gentians in the genera of Centaurium, Gentiana, and Gentianella.  Gentian violet is derived from coal tar. Another common name for gentian violet is crystal violet, and it is also called Andergon, Aniline Violet, Axuris, Badil, Basic Violet 3, Brilliant Violet 5B, C.I. 42555, Gentiaverm, Hexamethyl-p-Rosaniline Chloride, Hexamethylpararosaniline Chloride, Meroxylan, Meroxyl, Methylrosaniline Chloride, Methyl Violet 10BNS, Methylvioletti, Mythyrosailine Chloride, Pyoctaninum Caeruleum, Pyoktanin, Vianin, Viocid, and Viola Crystallina.

 

Gentian violet has been used in forensics to develop fingerprints (link, link2).

Bacteria are often divided up in two categories: "Gram-positive" or "Gram-negative". Gentian violet stains Gram-positive bacteria blue-violet. The Danish biologist Hans Christian Joachim Gram discovered this in 1884, and the technique is still used today.

Gentian violet is also a good topical treatment for yeast infections or thrush caused by the fungi Candida albicans, but it stains skin purple. Its antifungal properties as been known for a long time and it is still being used as an over-the-counter treatment in Europe and North America.  Gentian violet is not completely harmless and is considered carcinogenic after tests with feeding mice with large doses of this chemical.

 

Links:

Wikipedia, Gentian Violet

OSHA, Material Safety Data Sheet for Gentian Violet

Note:  The GENTIAN RESEARCH NETWORK do not endorse or encourage the use of gentians or gentian-derived products for any medicinal purposes or as a cure for specific diseases and ailments.  The information is listed here for educational purposes only. The health value and safety of any of these plants and products has not been evaluated by us and we do not recommend any of them for medicinal use.

 Lena Struwe, 2004

 

Gentian Research Network, 2002-2011.
For corrections and additions, contact Lena Struwe at struwe@aesop.rutgers.edu