The best digestive bitters

Digestive bitters have been used as a traditional remedy for digestive upset for thousands of years. They help relieve uncomfortable symptoms and even improve digestive health.
Digestive bitters have been used as a traditional remedy for digestive upset for thousands of years. They help relieve uncomfortable symptoms and even improve digestive health. (BestReviews)

When your belly is upset, fast relief is important. But wouldn't it be nice to not have an upset stomach to begin with? Digestive bitters can be used to naturally prevent the most common types of stomach upset. The bitter enzymes in the plants are used to prompt the body to produce digestive enzymes for total support.

The best digestive bitters work quickly and are convenient when you need them. Dr. Mercola Organic Digestive Bitters use eight different bitter herbs and come with a money-back guarantee that they'll work for you.


What to know before you buy digestive bitters

Bitter herbs have been a mainstay in the human diet for as long as there have been humans. The compounds in bitter herbs prompt the digestive process to begin, which is why so many preprandial beverages feature digestive bitters in the cocktail shaker.

Buying the best digestive bitters means considering a few key things.



Consider first the ingredients that you’ll need to get the best results. There is a vast array of bitter herbs you can use, but the most common ones are well-known for specific functions.

These include:

  • Gentian root: Provides strong bitter properties that increase nutritional absorption.
  • Angelica: Stimulates appetite and relieves uncomfortable gas and bloating.
  • Slippery elm: Improves moisture and mucosal production in the digestive tract.
  • Artichoke leaf: Supports liver function.
  • Dandelion: Removes toxins and clears the kidneys.
  • Bitter orange: Relieves nausea caused by indigestion and constipation.

Look for digestive bitters that contain the specific bitter herbs you need.

Why take digestive bitters

Are you taking digestive bitters as a preventative measure, or are you more interested in treating a chronic or underlying condition? If you are treating a chronic condition, talk to your doctor before selecting digestive bitters that work for you.

Digestive bitters features

Safely processed

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration regulates digestive bitters as a food. It offers Good Manufacturing Practices certification to those facilities that follow specific, stringent food safety protocols for processing and packaging. Stick with digestive bitters that have this certification.

Safely extracted

Digestive bitters are historically extracted using alcohol or vinegar, but some companies use heat or steam distillation. While this may not extract all of the beneficial compounds, steam or heat extraction is a safe choice for children and people who are avoiding even small amounts of alcohol.

Allergen-friendly formula

Your digestive bitters should be free from all common allergens, including:

  • Dairy
  • Eggs
  • Gluten
  • Soy
  • Corn
  • Tree nuts

No additives

Look for digestive bitters that are free from artificial colors, flavors or sweeteners. Although these are added to mask the taste, that ultimately defeats the point. The bitter taste is what triggers digestion. Without that taste, they’re not as effective.

Digestive bitters cost 

Because the dosage is small, digestive bitters are an affordable supplement to take. They cost between $15-$50 per 1-ounce bottle.

Digestive bitters FAQ

What conditions can digestive bitters help?

A. Most people commonly use digestive bitters as their name implies: for digestive support.

However, there are a number of conditions that digestive bitters work with. They can help with:

  • Regulating blood sugar.
  • Minimizing between-meal cravings (especially for sugar).
  • Regulating appetite.
  • Adding support for liver, gallbladder, kidney and urinary tract function.

Can you take digestive bitters every day?

A. You can generally take digestive bitters every day.

For the treatment of chronic health conditions, talk to your doctor before starting with digestive bitters. This is especially important if you are taking any additional medications.

Most people take digestive bitters before meals. This can be in a glass of water or another beverage such as an aperitivo (alcoholic or non-alcoholic).

Some people reach for digestive bitters during their mid-afternoon slump (instead of caffeine or sugary snacks). Citrus bitters in particular are good at providing a burst of energy.

At night, some formulations of digestive bitters include relaxing compounds. These can be included in a  nightly cup of tea and are especially helpful if you’ve had a late meal (or late-night snack before bed).

If you are concerned about the amount of alcohol in alcohol-based bitters, set your mind at ease. The amount of alcohol in a typical dropper of digestive bitters is similar to the amount of alcohol in a ripe banana.

What’s the proper dose for digestive bitters?

A. Each type of digestive bitters has its own recommended dose. Unless you are under specific recommendations of a doctor, it's typically safe to follow the bottle's dosing instructions.

Which digestive bitters should I get?

Best of the best digestive bitters

Dr. Mercola Organic Digestive Bitters: available at Amazon and  iHerb

Our take: This product features eight different bitter herbs for better digestion.

What we like: All herbs in these bitters are non-GMO. The bitters are also alcohol-free and free from common allergens like soy and gluten. They come with a 90-day money-back guarantee.

What we dislike: The same eight bitter compounds that work so well to even out digestion taste very strong. Some people could not take the intense bitterness.

Best bang for your buck digestive bitters

Gaia Herbs Sweetish Bitters Elixir: available at Amazon

Our take: Gaia tracks the bitters in this bottle from start to finish to ensure a great product at an affordable price.

What we like: This fast-acting digestive bitters has nine active bitter compounds. The main purpose is to stimulate digestion. The bitters are certified organic.

What we dislike: These bitters contain alcohol and are unsuitable for children and people in recovery.

Honorable mention digestive bitters

Dr. Shade's Bitters No. 9  Digestive Bitters: available at Amazon

Our take: If you are seriously uncomfortable and need relief, these bitters work fast.

What we like: The key to Dr. Shade's fast action is smaller liposomes that pass quickly through cells for faster absorption. These bitters use a spray for more dispersal in the mouth and quicker uptake through mucous membranes. There are nine bitter herbs in this formula.

What we dislike: It's a good thing it works so well because these bitters are exceptionally expensive.

Suzannah Kolbeck is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.

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