In this Q&A and video, Dr. Tieraona Low Dog outlines the uses and clinical protocols for herbal bitters versus digestive enzymes.
Q: “When would you use an herbal bitters versus digestive enzymes?”
TLD: “It’s a good question, and one that requires some thoughtful consideration.”“Herbal bitters are herbs that prime the digestive tract by stimulating the production of stomach acid and pancreatic enzymes. They also prime the gallbladder to release bile. The choice of which bitter herb to use can be customized based on the individual’s presentation. Three herbal bitters that I frequently recommend are hops, Oregon grape root and chamomile — botanicals that offer a host of additional benefits beyond the digestive tract. Sometimes the body just doesn’t have the ability to break down and digest specific foods. A person who does not produce lactase, for example, will never be able to properly digest dairy. Digestive enzymes will essentially accomplish this for your patient, and enzymes such as amylase, protease and lipase can be beneficial for certain individuals. Naturally, with overall health being so directly impacted by the health of the gut, ensuring optimal digestion is key. When it comes to enzymes and bitters, I believe there is a place for both in clinical practice.”