How to Make 2-Ingredient Digestive Bitters {5 minutes to make; improve digestion; detox the liver}

How to Make 2-Ingredient Digestive Bitters {5 minutes to make; improve digestion; detox the liver}

I may receive a commission if you purchase through links in this post. I am not a doctor; please consult your practitioner before changing your supplement or healthcare regimen.

A few supplements come to mind as being fundamental for good health, for most people. Digestive bitters is one of them. Bitters is an herbal tincture that improves digestion and liver function. But the key to this article is also saving money. One 4-ounce bottle of bitters costs over $40. Our family of five goes through those bottles quickly. Our budget finally prompted me to make my own! If you’re not making your own yet, this 2-ingredient recipe should convince you. With just vodka and one herb, this tincture takes only 5 minutes to make. Plus it’s fun and empowering!

Several herbs usually go into bitters recipes, but that’s not necessary. There is one best herb. It’s my powerhouse favorite, and it does it all. The other herbs do have roles and benefits too, but there is one herb that is the best at improving digestion and detoxing the liver. That herb is gentian.

2 Ingredients

Gentian is a strong, bitter herb that stimulates the liver to produce bile. Gentian also stimulates the gall bladder to release bile into the stomach. This whole process detoxifies the liver and helps the stomach to break down fat and protein. (Read more about gentian’s health benefits below the recipe.)

The second ingredient in this recipe is vodka. You can buy any 80-100 proof vodka you prefer, whatever is inexpensive. You may choose to buy pure, gluten-free vodka.

All you need to do? Order dried gentian root. When it arrives, you are ready to make this recipe in just 5 minutes. Your gentian tincture will steep for one month before it’s ready to use. Get ready now, so it’s ready sooner! (Find gentian root here.)

How to Make 2-Ingredient Digestive Bitters {5 minutes to make; improve digestion; detox the liver} #bitters #digestion #detox #livercleanse #herbal #DIYbitters

How to Make Bitters

  1. You can use any size jar, to make as much or as little bitters as you need.
  2. Fill jar 1/3 of the way with gentian root.
  3. Pour 80- to 90-proof vodka over the root, and fill the jar to its neck.
  4. Cover and place jar in cool, dark location for 1 month. (Tip the jar and herbs upside down every other day or so.)
  5. Strain into another bottle, or several small bottles (find bottles here) with dropper lids. (Find funnels here.)
  6. (Use one dropper of gentian bitters with each meal that contains fat and/or protein. Dilute in about 1-ounce of water. Preferably, drink before, during or, if you forget, after the meal.)

Bitters’ Other Health Benefits?

While most people need the boost gentian bitters provides, those with common health struggles need bitters most:

  • Most with GERD will benefit. Bitters shuts the valve between stomach and esophagus, preventing stomach acid from traveling up and causing painful symptoms.
  • Most with SIBO will benefit. Bitters stimulates the closing of the ileocecal valve, located between the large and small intestine, preventing the large population of flora in the large intestine from traveling up to the small intestine.
  • Most with leaky gut will benefit, although some may need Vitamin U first. (Read about Vitamin U here.) Bitters creates the correct pH in one’s stomach, aiding digestion, breaking down large food particles, aiding in the gut’s healing process over time.
  • Gentian bitters creates an inhospitable environment for pathogens of every kind, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoa and intestinal worms. It helps to restore floral balance by killing and discouraging pathogenic overgrowth while supporting the development of beneficial flora. (No other bitter herb can boast this anti-pathogenic profile!: being able to kill even protozoa and worms.)

Will you make your own gentian digestive bitters? Find dried gentian root here, (or if you’re not yet ready to make your own, find the ready-made tincture here).

Comments 39

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  1. Hi, this looks great! Can’t wait to try it! Can you provide an example of measurements? All jars are shaped so differently! Also, the vodka serves to cleanse the liver? And not hurt it? That confuses me 🙂

    1. Hello Jennifer, thanks for your comments and questions. Sure: if you use a 4-cup mason jar, you will fill your jar just above the 1-1/4 cup line with gentian root. The root pieces will fill 1/3 of the jar.

      Regarding alcohol, everyone is unique, but most people can tolerate 20-30 drops of alcohol without any negative effects. It is simply the solvent in which the herbal properties are preserved. I am VERY sensitive to alcohol myself: I would not take even one sip of any alcoholic beverage. But I can take multiple tinctures daily with no ill effect to liver or otherwise. However, each patient must consider their individual health circumstances. There are extracts that can be made with glycerine for those who can not tolerate any alcohol.

      1. Hi Megan – This is so cool. I’ve recently begun using Wise Women Herbals gentian extract (which I love) and want to try your recipe. (I’m so glad you did this blog piece.) The WW Herbals product contains water and alcohol. Mountain Rose Herbs also mentions mixing water with the alcohol for the DIY extract (in a 1 to 5 ratio of the dried root). Is there any reason that you don’t use water? Is it just for simplicity and ease? Your version does look easier. Great thanks, KP

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          Hi KP, great question! My recipe doesn’t use water because it calls for 40% to 50% alcohol by volume (80- to 90-proof vodka), which is already diluted. If another tincture shows water as an ingredient, this likely means they are starting with a higher proof alcohol and must dilute it themselves. Here’s a useful article: So the short answer is: If you buy the 80- to 90-proof vodka, you can make the 2-ingredient bitters recipe here, and it’s less work with the same outcome! 🙂

        2. Hi All – To update, I am on my third batch and for the first two I found my best results were at 6 weeks instead of 4. So, if anyone tries theirs at 4 weeks and is a little unsure if it’s bitter enough, you might let it sit a little longer. I shake mine almost once daily. For mine: mason jar size: small 16 ounce. Organic gentian Root, 8 ounce bag. ( I still have a tiny bit left over after 3 batches.) I’m really pleased with the recipe and I also can tolerate it fine and I totally have a sensitive liver due to mycotoxin illness. Vodkas used: First 2 batches: PAU pineapple vodka ($16.99) and now Vodka Monopolowa – J. A Baczewaki, potato vodka from Austria ($10.99). Both are gluten free. Overall it does save money to make it yourself, especially if you use bitters regularly. – Thank you Megan 🙂

          1. My ND recommends it 30 minutes before a meal. When I forget I’ll still use it at the start of a meal and I let myself taste it. Taste being a signal to the body. If the alcohol taste is too strong for anyone, you could then ever so lightly dilute it with water as you take it. – Thanks again 🙂

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  2. I LOVE making and using bitters. Gentian can be very strong for some folks, so there are alternatives. Normally with herbal clients, I start ’em with a more gentle ‘potion’. Still Gentian is THE bitter — from Europe. We also can grow lots of bitter herbs to make into tasty concoctions.
    Great post, Megan!

  3. I’ve seen gentian occasionally for sale here and didn’t know what it was for – now I know and will buy some the next time I see it!

  4. Wow! I had no idea about this ingredient. Will try to make digestive butters..looks like a good detox habit..

  5. I’ve never heard of this! But now I’m intrigued. And also pro anything with alcohol haha But seriously, I’m going to maybe give this a try.

  6. What a great, simple recipe. I also like sticking to the most important ingredients to keep a recipe from becoming so complex that I’ll be discouraged from making it.

  7. I have actually gone without bitters because they’re so expensive. I’m so thankful for this inexpensive, homemade version!

  8. I have been hospitalized many times in the past for pancreatitis, this making alcohol a no no. Ten years ago I underwent a Whipple procedure, which left me with half a pancreas, and haven’t had liquor since. I would like to try these bitters but am afraid of the alcohol. Is there any other way to make the bitters without alcohol?

  9. Do you think this could be made effectively with vegetable glycerin instead of vodka (e.g. for use during pregnancy)?

  10. Hi, just a question about betaine hcl- being on a vegan diet do I take it with all meals that include any type/amount of protein, such as a little hummus or some nut butter? I’m at 7 caps with no burning and am going to stop at 8 caps regardless. Do I just adjust the amount of betaine depending on the meal? The betaine protocol seems geared towards meat eaters so I was wondering if you had any suggestions for a vegan diet?

  11. I don’t have a gallbladder so do I want my liver to produce more bile? I experience bile dumping as it is.

  12. Hi Megan, Is there a substitute for the Vodka? Perhaps cider vinegar? I find that with my blood cancer I can not tolerate even a tincture amount of alcohol.

  13. Megan, thank you so much for discussing this topic. I think many people don’t realize the importance of bitter foods and herbs on their liver, which in turn helps with digestive health. Our bodies are so inter-connected. I try to make a point to incorporate some bitter foods in the diet, some are easy to find such as grape fruits, dandelion, and bitter melons.. but it’s hard for most people to get enough these days when we are surrounded by modern way of eating. I am so glad to learn from you about Gentian. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Thank you, Yang, yes, so true!! The mainstream American diet does not include enough of these foods. I’m so glad you do!

  14. Thanks for sharing helpful information. I appreciate the work that you have put in this page. This is really helping me. I will now start doing the same for better results. Thanks a lot for sharing. Thanks a lot for this great share!

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      Thanks for your comment Vipul! I hope you enjoy the process of making bitters, and that you can really see the benefits.

  15. Would this be appropriate for children to use? What would be the”dosage” for an adult and a child? I would make it with glycerin.

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