Skip to content
Fast & Free Delivery over $45 | How fast will I receive my order? ZIP Code: - Receive it More Info

Herbal Basics: Bitters 101

6 Min Read
Herbal Basics: Bitters 101
Updated on March 5, 2021

Bitter herbs are some of the most beloved by herbalists and fundamental to gut health. When you taste the challenging flavor of bitterness, you strengthen your digestive response and enhance the secretion of the body’s natural digestive juices which in turn optimizes digestive function.* This is crucial as the old herbal saying goes, “it’s not just about what you eat, but rather what you assimilate.”

As human beings, we evolved consuming a vast amount of wild plants, like roots and berries, most of which are rich in the bitter flavor. With the birth of modern agriculture and the convenience of eating processed food, the bitter taste was stripped away in exchange for more pleasurable flavors: sweet and salty.

It’s not too surprising then that today in a world that dramatically lacks the flavor of bitterness in our daily diets, digestive woes are all too common. Some mainstream approaches are an easy bandage to the root cause, but bitter herbs support and retrain the body to work the way that it was designed. When it comes to digestive health, herbs are among your best allies, and with good reason: they work.*

Bitter herbs have a long history of use for soothing occasional gas and bloating, relieving nausea and heartburn, encouraging digestive secretions, and promoting gentle detox. They also support liver function.* The key to herbal medicine is understanding the nuances of each herb so you know which remedy to reach for based on your specific needs. Below is a list of a few notable bitter herbs, their benefits and where to find them.

Bitters Herbs & Their Digestive Benefits


Bitters Herbs & Their Digestive Benefits

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

Often overlooked or dismissed as a weed, dandelion is one of the greatest medicinal plants in Traditional European herbalism. It is one of the most commonly used herbs for gently stimulating the liver, supporting the kidneys and promoting healthy digestion.* Dandelion’s role as a bitter herb and a diuretic make it a fantastic herb for general health, daily detox, and well-being. All parts of this plant are medicinal and edible.

Enjoy the root as a tea, in tincture form, or you can add the fresh root to soups or broths. Harvest the young spring leaves in unsprayed or uncontaminated areas and add to soups, juices, and salads. The yellow “petals” can be plucked from the head of the dandelion and sprinkled over salads, battered and turned into fritters, or brewed into an old-time recipe of dandelion wine. As an herbal supplement, our organic Dandelion Leaf and Root tea is a daily habit for us and a faithful ally for everyday wellness.*

Burdock (Arctium lappa)

Burdock root is highly regarded as a unique digestive tonic and supporter of healthy liver function. As a bitter, it is mild, yet effective. As a fresh herb, burdock root has a rich nutritional profile and is very nourishing and food-like. Herbalists have long used it to support healthy skin and to nourish the microbiome. This root has long been praised for its alterative action, which supports channels of elimination in the body and supports healthy digestion. Rich with inulin and prebiotic starches, burdock root is used to help support healthy kidneys and beautiful, glowing skin.* Fresh burdock root makes a great addition to stir-fries and soups. It’s also delicious pickled.

For its liver-supportive functions, you can find it in our organic EveryDay Detox® Lemon tea and in all of Urban Moonshine’s digestive bitters.


Schisandra (Schisandra chinensis)

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), schisandra is known as wǔ wèi zi, or the “five flavor fruit,” as it contains all five tastes — bitter, pungent, salty, sour, and sweet. Because of its unique complexity in flavor, schisandra pairs well with almost anything, making it a truly versatile herb. We love using this herb because of its gentle liver support and gentle detoxifying qualities.*

This herb is one of the real superheroes in our organic EveryDay Detox® Schisandra Berry tea.


Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)

This common flower isn’t just a sleep aid but also a calming herb that eases digestion and occasional nausea, and relaxes twitchy tummies.* Soothing and calming, chamomile is a fantastic and gentle bitter, especially when steeped as a tea for longer than 5 minutes or in tincture form.

Enjoying a cup of Chamomile tea after a big meal is a time-honored tradition by herbalists.



Artichoke (Cynara scolymus)

The leaves of the globe artichoke have a different quality than that of our common aromatic herbs. With a similar effect on the digestive system, artichoke is cooling rather than warming and drying in its energetic qualities. In Western herbalism, it has traditionally been used when digestion is slow. A relative of milk thistle, artichoke has an affinity for the liver and is an herbalist favorite when liver support is part of your wellness goals.*

Artichoke can be found in Urban Moonshine’s Healthy Liver Bitters, which is an excellent everyday liver support formula.


Gentian (Gentiana lutea)

This is a classic bitter herb with a long history of use in bitter liquors and aperitifs. One of the most intense bitter roots we use, gentian has been utilized in traditional European herbalism for centuries. Because of its intense flavor, a little bit of gentian’s bitterness goes a long way, and physiologically, we don’t need a lot of bitter to have a maximum effect on our digestion. Gentian is often used in combination with other digestive supporting herbs and warming aromatics to achieve a well-rounded digestive bitters formula.*

Gentian is found in almost all Urban Moonshine Digestive Bitters.


Ginger (Zingiber officinale)

A warming carminative herb traditionally used for motion sickness, stomach upset, and cramping, this herb is often paired with bitter herbs, and used for digestive support.* A classic herbal kitchen ingredient, ginger is one of the most versatile and can always be found in a grocery store.

Our organic Ginger tea is a great one for after meals, or with a squeeze of lemon when waking up in the morning.


While the world of herbal remedies can feel overwhelming, digestive support is where plants easily shine and is a great place to start if you are new to using herbs. Adding these herbal allies to your daily rituals can do wonders for the digestive system, and thus overall wellness.*

If you are interested in making your own bitters check out our Citrus Spiced Dandelion Bitters recipe.

Our sister company, Urban Moonshine makes liquid bitter extracts. They are a convenient way to take bitters on the go, or to enjoy before and after meals.

You Might Also Enjoy

Shop All
Lemon Balm Tea Lemon Balm Tea

Lemon Balm Tea

Lemon Balm calms the nervous system and supports digestion
Nettle Leaf Tea Nettle Leaf Tea

Nettle Leaf Tea

Nettle Leaf supports joint health and overall wellness
Turmeric & Ginger with Meadowsweet Tea Turmeric & Ginger with Meadowsweet Tea

Turmeric & Ginger with Meadowsweet Tea

This blend supports a healthy response to inflammation associated with an active lifestyle
Dandelion Leaf & Root Tea Dandelion Leaf & Root Tea

Dandelion Leaf & Root Tea

Dandelion Leaf & Root supports digestion & kidney health while aiding the body's natural detoxification process
Peppermint Tea Peppermint Tea

Peppermint Tea

Peppermint soothes your belly and alleviates digestive discomfort
Roasted Dandelion Root Tea Roasted Dandelion Root Tea

Roasted Dandelion Root Tea

This blend stimulates the liver and supports healthy digestion
Chamomile Tea Chamomile Tea

Chamomile Tea

Chamomile calms your nerves and supports healthy digestion
Ginger Tea Ginger Tea

Ginger Tea

Ginger promotes healthy digestion and prevents nausea due to motion

EveryDay Detox® Schisandra Berry Tea

This blend stimulates the liver and supports the body's natural detoxification process

EveryDay Detox® Lemon Tea

This blend promotes healthy skin and supports the body's natural detoxification process
Throat Coat<sup>®</sup> Lemon Echinacea Lozenges Throat Coat<sup>®</sup> Lemon Echinacea Lozenges

Throat Coat® Lemon Echinacea Lozenges

These herbal lozenges provides sore throat support when you need it most.

Fennel Tea

Fennel promotes healthy digestion; eases uncomfortable feelings of fullness, bloating and gassiness

Dandelion Chai Probiotic Tea

This blend supports healthy digestion

Belly Comfort® Peppermint Tea

This blend soothes the belly and relieves occasional indigestion

Tulsi & Ginger Tea

This blend supports a healthy response to stress
Belly Comfort<sup>®</sup> Lozenges Belly Comfort<sup>®</sup> Lozenges

Belly Comfort® Lozenges

Belly Comfort Lozenges helps relieve nausea and occasional indigestion

Licorice Root Tea

Licorice Root soothes the digestive tract and promotes respiratory health

Green Tea Ginger

This blend gently invigorates, while promoting healthy digestion

EveryDay Detox® Dandelion Tea

This blend stimulates the liver and supports the body's natural detoxification process

Gas Relief Tea

This blend relieves gas and bloating

Gas Relief Tea

This blend relieves gas and bloating

Gas Relief Tea

This blend relieves gas and bloating

Related Articles

View All

Voices Are For Using, Not Losing™: Get to know Jake & Shelby Singer/Songwriter Duo

Jake & Shelby, the dynamic pop duo aged 18 and 19, are rapidly climbing the music charts with their mature and fresh sound, drawing inspiration from John Mayer, Madison Cunningham,...

Identity Herbalism with Erin Masako Wilkins of Herb Folk Medicine

Erin Masako Wilkins is an Asian American herbalist and acupuncturist. She has been a practicing herbalist for over a decade specializing in traditional Chinese and Japanese medicine. She aims to...

Celebrating the Holidays and the Planet

Tis the season of green! We are proud to announce that we at Traditional Medicinals have joined forces with the Environmental Media Association (EMA), using our voices to elevate eco-consciousness...

Q&A with Rosemary Gladstar, “Godmother of Modern Herbalism” and Traditional Medicinals Co-Founder

Photo taken by Danielle Cohen Meet Rosemary Gladstar, known as the godmother of modern herbalism, she has captivated a global audience with her wealth of knowledge and passion for herbal...

Voices are for Using, Not Losing™: Tips from a Celebrity Voice Coach

Meet RAab Stevenson, singer, songwriter, vocal coach, arranger, producer, artist and developer. Robert “RAab” Stevenson has worked with some of the most famous voices and producers heard on pop radio...

How Tea can Protect Ecosystems: FairWild collection with the BBC Storyworks Commercial Production

Climate change is altering landscapes. It’s harming global ecosystems and the people who depend on them. Over 40% of medicines found in western pharmacies are derived from plants, many of...

3 Herbal Hacks for Mental Health

Big emotions are often natural reactions to very real challenges. Occasional stress, overwhelm and stretches of melancholy can feel scary. And yet, you’re not alone. We’ve all had seasons of...

Nighty Night® Night Cap

At the end of the day, we’re all looking to slip peacefully into a restful sleep, but sometimes it can be hard getting there. Practicing good sleep hygiene can help...

Herbalist Tips for Healthy Skin

While clear, dewy skin is often a bit of good luck, long-term health is very much dependent on healthy habits. Herbalists use plants inside and out to nourish the skin,...

4 Ways to Soothe an Anxious Mind and Stomach

Have you ever had an anxious gut feeling about something or felt nervous and experienced butterflies in your stomach? These sensations emanating from your belly remind us that the brain...

After-Meal Drinks for Holiday Digestion

It’s the time of year when many of the simple joys of life become the heart and center of this season – spending time with family and friends, the coziness...

4 Ways to Improve Digestion with Herbs

Our gut works hard for us every minute of every day. When it is functioning properly, we hardly think twice about it. But the moment things go awry, it’s nearly...