Digestive Bitters

cardamom_pods_hi-res.jpgDigestive Bitters is an herbal formula for improving appetite and digestion, while easing acid burning and gas.
The taste of something bitter in the mouth has an effect on the nervous system that stimulates appetite and digestion. Traditionally, bitters have been made as alcohol beverages, aperitifs and liqueurs. Various blends of bitter herbs have traditionally been used as “tonics” to improve digestive function, ease acid indigestion, reduce gas and bloating, and improve liver detoxification.

Digestive Bitters contains key herbs that are used in traditional bitters formulas. To make the formula more palatable, a red raspberry syrup and stevia have been added. This additional sweetness makes the formula somewhat less effective than a traditional bitters formula but makes it easier for the average person to take.
Digestive Bitters can help prevent excessive belching, bloating, poor appetite, acid indigestion, and sour stomach.  It is especially beneficial for aiding digestion when consuming fatty foods or heavy meats that cause sluggish digestion in some people. Bitters promote the flow of bile, which helps the body breakdown fats. It also helps the liver detoxify itself.

Bitters also promote good circulation. In Chinese medicine, the taste of bitter is said to enhance the body’s fire, which improves circulation and nervous functions. Bitters help move lymph, too, which helps cellular detoxification. Many anecdotes attest to the usefulness of bitters in treating the pain of arthritis and rheumatism, animal bites, colic, constipation, and hemorrhoids.  Here is a breakdown of the herbs in this blend:

Gentian Root

Considered one of the classic simple bitters, gentian root (Gentiana lutea) has long been used in liquid form as a digestive tonic. Its bitter flavor is known to stimulate production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach, pancreatic enzymes, and bile from the liver and gall bladder. It aids the digestion of protein and heavy fats. It is used for sluggish digestion, dyspepsia, gas, morning sickness, hepatitis, jaundice and most liver problems.


A spice used in Indian cooking, cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum) is an aromatic with carminative and stimulant properties. It is a common ingredient in blends designed to reduce intestinal gas and bloating. It increases the flow of bile to aid the digestion of fats.

Orange Peel

With both bitter and aromatic qualities, the peelings of oranges (Citrus aurantium) are a major ingredient in many bitter formulas. Orange peel has carminative properties and regulates energy of digestion and assimilation. It is good for those who suffer from abdominal distension, bloating, vomiting and even hiccoughs.


Another key ingredient in many bitter formulas is dandelion root (Taraxacum officinale). Dandelion is a blood purifier and a diuretic. It is used to stimulate bile flow, reduce inflammation of the kidney and urinary tract, relieve water retention, and settle indigestion. It cleanses the liver and gallbladder, making it useful in the treatment of toxic blood, anemia, hepatitis, jaundice, skin diseases, and acne. It supports those with weak digestion and those who suffer from hiatal hernia.


Stevia leaves (Stevia rebaudiana) contain glycosides that are many times sweeter than sugar. They impart a sweet taste, while helping to maintain normal blood sugar levels.

Other Ingredients

Red raspberry syrup is high in vitamin C, minerals and flavonoids. It helps to make the bitters easier to take. Phosphoric acid and potassium sorbate act as preservatives.

Suggested Use

As an aid to appetite and digestion, take 1 teaspoon 15 minutes before each meal. Children can take 1/2 the adult dose. For indigestion, Digestive Bitters can also be taken after the meal in doses of 1/2 teaspoon every 15 minutes with water to settle the stomach. Refrigerate after opening.

Selected References

A Modern Herbal by M. Grieve
Alternative Medicine, The Definitive Guide by Deepak Chopra.
Herbal Defense by Robyn Landis
The Comprehensive Guide to Nature’s Sunshine Products by Tree of Light Publishing