Bitters will help improve digestion, and relieve gut inflammation & protect the stomach and liver. In this post, we discuss the best 8 herbal bitters, the research demonstrating their potential benefits, and their combinations that have synergistic effects.
Preliminary research points to an amazing herbal bitterness, but the degree of clinical signs stays low. The following studies should encourage additional investigation before we make some concrete conclusions. Remember to talk with a health care provider before taking any of the herbs discussed below. They can’t replace medical care for any medical state.
Best Herbal Bitters
Artichoke is a great health food. Several clinical studies have shown that artichoke leaf extracts are good at relieving indigestion.
In a study of 208 individuals with IBS, artichoke leaf extract decreased constipation and diarrhea whilst improving the quality of life. By the end of the study, 26 percent of the participants no longer had IBS.
In a poll of people with indigestion and IBS, 96% said that artichoke was as good or better compared to previous treatments. It can assist with IBS by preventing muscle spasms and balancing the gut microbiota.
Artichoke bitter properties additionally stimulate liver function and regeneration. Leaf extract significantly improved the lipid profile and reduced the signs of fatty liver in 100 patients.
Cynarin, a compound in artichoke extracts, raises bile production in the liver which assists in the digestion of fats and also the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (such as vitamin A vitamin).
Artichoke extracts stop gut abnormalities in guinea pig intestines, which might alleviate stomach pain. In rats, artichoke leaf extracts prevented harm to the stomach lining brought on by alcohol or stress.
2) Milk Thistle
Milk thistle (Silymarin) is best known as a liver support treatment and anti-inflammatory, but its bitter qualities can also improve digestion.
Silymarin prevented ulcerative colitis from coming back in a clinical trial with 80 individuals.
Multiple rat studies show that it protects against stomach ulcers and inflammation (possibly by decreasing neutrophils and stomach acid). It may improve bile flow, which helps with digestion and the absorption of polyunsaturated and fats vitamins.
The Gentian family comprises over 400 species, all of which are commonly known as Gentian and have a strikingly long history of usage. Gentian got its name from King Gentius who ruled from the Mediterranean region in 181 BC. Modern Gentian is native to Europe, parts of Iran, and Tibet.
It can aid with digestion by boosting saliva and stomach acid production, in addition to increasing blood circulation to the stomach and intestines. Individuals have been using it as a carminative (digestion enhancer) for ages.
In one study on rats, 4 distinct species of gentian herbs promoted digestion. They raised stomach acid and the digestive enzyme pepsin. Gentian could also boost mucus levels, which can help prevent damage from stomach acid.
In rats with the impaired gut flow, the active chemical from gentian (gentiopicroside) restored normal digestion.
Gentian extracts can protect against stomach ulcers and alcohol damage to the gut lining, according to many different animal studies. And as an additional benefit, they have antifungal and antibacterial effects.
Goldenseal (Hydrastis Canadensis), indigenous to North America, is an herb that’s been traditionally utilized to combat infections. Much of contemporary studies have concentrated on berberine, a bitter chemical utilized in Goldenseal roots which have many medicinal properties.
Berberine is a natural, secure anti-diarrheal. In a clinical trial with 196 individuals with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), berberine considerably reduced heartburn frequency as well as gut pain, enhancing the quality of life.
In another clinical trial with 165 individuals, berberine stopped diarrhea due to E. coli in 42 percent of these cases after just 1 day of usage.
In human and rat studies, berberine out of goldenseal significantly speeds up digestion, reducing the time it takes for food to travel through the small intestine.
In rats, berberine reduced gut inflammation (possibly by decreasing lipid peroxidation and NF-κB levels). In diabetic rats, it helped restore the gut obstruction and improved nutrient absorption.
Berberine may be helpful for clearing toxins that reach the blood in people with leaky bowels, such as LPS. In mice with higher LPS (endotoxemia), it helps prevent leaky gut. In a gut tissue study, it blocked around 70% of the toxins produced by gut bacteria (Vibrio cholerae and E. coli).
Angelica is a plant genus with over 60 clinical species (including Angelica gigas and Angelica Sinensis), traditionally used to fight constipation, indigestion, headaches, influenza, infections, and more. Dong Quai or”feminine ginseng” is one commonly used medicinal plant from this household.
Injections of Dong Quai (Angelica Sinensis) helped enhance ulcerative colitis in a study with 94 people (by preventing platelet activation).
In a rat study, extracts of Dong Quai significantly reduced the size of stomach disorders and enhanced the production of nitric oxide production. In another study, extracts protected rats from stomach and ulcer damage.
6) Citruses (Bitter Orange)
Citruses are flowering trees that include oranges, lemons, limes, oranges, and many others. All citruses originate from southeast Asia but just some have sour qualities. The key bitter from this particular group is bitter orange (Citrus aurantium).
In rats with IBS, bitter orange decreased heartburn, colon Disease, and inflammatory molecules (TNF-alpha, COX-2). A bioactive molecule from the bitter orange essential oil (Β-myrcene) reduced stomach and intestinal ulcers in rats.
Bitter orange peel essential oil decreased the stomach ulcer dimension and helped grow new blood vessels to help in the healing process in rats. In another rat study, this essential oil protects against gut injuries caused by alcohol or anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) by increasing gut mucus levels in rats.
A flavonoid found in citrus peels (nobiletin) enhanced gut barrier integrity and anti-inflammatory healing effects in rats with colon inflammation. But, other flavonoids may really worsen”leaky gut”. Some of the ones in bitter orange (Hesperidin and neohesperidin) worsened ulcers and intestinal permeability in rats.
The bitter dandelion (Taraxacum), has been traditionally used all over the globe — from Korea into Portugal and Bolivia — to support the liver, enhance detox, and more. Anecdotally, it helps with indigestion, also.
Although clinical trials have not been conducted, animal studies support the benefits of dandelion for digestion. In beans, it enhanced food digestion and reduced E. coli from the gut. In rats, it helped move food from the stomach to the intestine.
In fish, dandelion extracts fostered intestinal immunity and antioxidant activity. They also improved gut”shape”, which may help in better digestion and nutrient absorption.
Dandelion also contains anti-inflammatory properties. In rats, dandelion improved both short-term and long-term gut discomfort (by blocking mast cells entry to the gut and decreasing TNF-alpha).
In mice and cell-based studies, dandelion extracts prevented colon inflammation (reducing COX-2, IL-1Beta, and TNF-alpha) and encouraged the growth of 14 different strains of beneficial probiotic germs (bifidobacteria).
Burdock (Arctium lappa) is a bitter and anti-inflammatory that’s been used in North American, Asian, and European folk medicine.
Multiple animal studies confirmed that burdock and its active elements can shield against or hasten the recovery of stomach injuries and ulcers. One of its active compounds (arctigenin) reduced colon inflammation in rats.
Fermented burdock increased levels of this probiotic gut bacteria (bifidobacteria) in rats, including non-fermented burdock.
Inulin extracted from burdock enhanced the growth of beneficial bacteria. Inulin considerably increased good gut bacteria in mice and cells (lactobacilli and bifidobacteria). In 1 mouse study, burdock can also safely stop weight reduction.
Synergistic Combinations of Herbal Bitters
Quite often, bitter herbs have been combined with combinations that have synergistic results.
Iberogast Is a Famous product that contains 9 herbs:
- Bitter candytuft
- Lemon balm
- St. Mary’s thistle
- Greater celandine
It used for various gut difficulties, of which indigestion is the most important one. In an investigation of 6 clinical trials, Iberogast was effective at improving indigestion.
Iberogast also significantly diminished irritable bowel syndrome and alleviated stomach pain in a clinical trial with 208 patients.
Animal and mobile support added benefits. It helped decrease inflammation in rats with ulcerative colitis and GERD while raising gut mucus. It may also help with constipation.
The Xiaoyao pill is a traditional Chinese medicine that contains Dong Quai and other components. In a clinical trial of 180 depressed girls with indigestion (functional dyspepsia), the Xiaoyao pill enhanced digestion by helping to move the food swiftly through the gut. Additionally, it raised motilin and gastrin amounts, hormones that increase digestive proteins and stomach acid.
A mixture of angelica, inulin, probiotics, and other elements managed to help 37 patients with irritable bowel syndrome. It lowered stomach pain, constipation, bloating, and diarrhea.
A combination of angelica, burdock, gromwell, and sesame eased inflammation and cured ulcers in a clinical trial of 36 patients using Helicobacter pylori.
Mixtures of artichoke with different herbs (such as ginger, dandelion, and turmeric root) can act in synergy to relieve indigestion, based on numerous clinical trials.
1 study analyzed the effects of Prodigest, a combination supplement with ginger and artichoke, in healthy people. Prodigest enhanced gut flow without side effects, helping to avoid vomiting, nausea, stomach pain, and bloating that can result from slow digestion.
Cinarepa, an herbal combination with dandelion, decreased indigestion in a study of 311 people.
In another study of 24 people, a mix with dandelion, St. John’s wort, lemon balm, and a few other herbs diminished abdominal pain in over 95% of people with colon inflammation after about 2 weeks.
Bitter Orange Mixtures
An investigation of 22 clinical trials and nearly 2,000 patients found that Modified Chaihu Shugan powder, a Chinese herbal blend that has bitter orange, may be used to alleviate indigestion.