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Which digestive bitters are best?

Although progress can be positive, sometimes it works against us. Consider bitter flavors. As humans evolved, modern agriculture removed one of the most core and useful flavors from our food: bitterness. It has been replaced by salty and sweet flavors instead. While sweet treats and salty snacks are delicious, according to some studies, the lack of bitterness in our diet may negatively impact our health.

The best digestive bitters return this helpful compound into the diet in a format that’s easy to take. Dr. Mercola Organic Digestive Bitters is one of the most trusted digestive bitters, and it’s a good place to start.

What to know before you buy digestive bitters

You might be most familiar with bitters added to your cocktail shaker, but they have long been used medicinally as well. Digestive bitters are fresh herbs made into a tincture or extract. They are used widely in Ayurvedic medicine and are the basis behind a bitter aperitif like Amari. This Italian premeal bitter drink prepares the stomach for food, stimulating digestive juices.

There are a couple of things to consider before you take your first digestive bitters.

Condition being treated

All bitters are not created equal. Although the action is somewhat similar across the board (stimulating a response), the organs they work on can vary, as can their effects. Identify which condition you’d like to treat so you can target that with a specific mix of digestive bitters. 

Targeted compounds (and their actions)

There are six primary bitter compounds, some or all of which form the basis for most digestive bitters.

These include:

  1. Gentian root: Has the most bitter properties; helps the body absorb nutrients
  2. Angelica: Appetite stimulation and relief of bloating and gas
  3. Slippery elm: Adds moisture to the digestive tract and supports mucosal health
  4. Artichoke leaf: Lowers cholesterol and supports liver/bladder function
  5. Dandelion: Promotes digestion and support toxin removal
  6. Bitter orange: Good to relieve constipation, indigestion, nausea

While each can offer benefits, select the compound that best relieves your symptoms.

What to look for in quality digestive bitters


Good-manufacturing-practices certified facilities are held to strict processing standards. These ensure that the product is safe and that the label correctly identifies what is in the container or bottle.

The best way to judge a supplement’s safety in terms of processing is by looking for a GMP-certified seal on the package. This does not guarantee health benefits, but it does mean what you are taking is safely processed.

Free of allergens

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

  • GMOs
  • Soy
  • Gluten
  • Dairy
  • Tree nuts

Safe extraction

The bitter property of plants is generally best extracted using alcohol. Some of the most beneficial compounds simply are not available when water is used. 

However, if you are avoiding all traces of alcohol (or treating children), look for digestive bitters that have been extracted using heat or other nonalcoholic methods (e.g., vinegar, steam or CO2 extraction). These methods cost more to employ and will affect the price, but they guarantee that your digestive bitters are alcohol-free.

No artificial flavors, colors or sweeteners

The crucial element of digestive bitters is the bitter flavor. It can be shocking at first, but it prompts the body to begin to heal. Masking this response with artificial flavor, color or sugar removes much of the benefit. If the flavor is so bitter that it discourages you from taking it, dilute it in water.

How much you can expect to spend on digestive bitters

Digestive bitters range in price depending on the formulation and the size of the bottle. Expect to spend between $15-$50 on the best digestive bitters.

Digestive bitters FAQ

What are the potential benefits of digestive bitters?

A. Digestive bitters are most commonly used to stimulate the bitter receptors that trigger digestion, but they can also have other benefits that include:

  • Blood sugar regulation
  • Decreased cravings
  • Appetite regulation
  • Supporting liver, gallbladder, kidney and urinary tract function

How do you use digestive bitters?

A. As always, if you are being treated for a chronic health condition, talk to your doctor before taking any additional supplements.

Digestive bitters are most commonly taken just before meals. Follow the dosing directions on your bottle to take an amount that works for you.

You can also take digestive bitters for a quick burst of energy during the day. Citrus bitters in particular provide energizing effects without caffeine or added sugar.

Finally, some digestive bitters formulas also include relaxing herbs. Add bitters to your nightly cup of tea for a restful night of sleep. 

What are the best digestive bitters to buy?

Top digestive bitters

Dr. Mercola Organic Digestive Bitters

Dr. Mercola Organic Digestive Bitters 

What you need to know: These bitters feature some of the best ingredients for stimulating digestion.

What you’ll love: These digestive bitters feature eight different botanicals. They are alcohol-free and 100% USDA organic. They are also soy- and gluten-free and come with a 90-day money-back guarantee.

What you should consider: This product must be refrigerated, and some users struggled with the taste.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and  iHerb

Top digestive bitters for the money

Gaia Herbs Sweetish Bitters Elixir

Gaia Herbs Sweetish Bitters Elixir

What you need to know: This product is designed to reduce gas and bloating.

What you’ll love: With nine beneficial herbs to stimulate digestion, this is fast-acting and helps with digestion. Gaia uses its own seeds in a seed-to-bottle process that is certified organic.

What you should consider: This contains alcohol and is not suitable for those in recovery.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Dr. Shade's Bitters No. 9 Digestive Bitters

Dr. Shade’s Bitters No. 9  Digestive Bitters

What you need to know: This is a great digestive product for people who want fast results.

What you’ll love: Smaller liposomes mean that the bitters pass easily between cells to absorb more quickly for more benefit. There are nine different bitter compounds in this bottle. The spray disperses the bitters in the mouth for faster action.

What you should consider: This product is very expensive.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

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Suzannah Kolbeck writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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