Bitters vs. Digestive Enzymes

Our digestive systems often need a little extra support. Sometimes it’s an aching belly that signals to us that our digestive systems could use some attention. Sometimes gas, bloating, loose stools or constipation alert us. And sometimes allergies and hypersensitivities are what tell us that our digestion may be lagging. Many people turn to digestive enzyme supplements to support their digestive function, while others reach for a bottle of bitters

What is the difference between digestive enzymes and bitters?

Quite a lot, in fact! Digestive enzymes are naturally produced and utilized by our body throughout our digestive tracts. They help us break down our food so that we may absorb all of its nutrients. Efficient food breakdown also prevents uncomfortable gas formation and large food particles from entering our blood stream and causing distress. Enzymes do many other things, including protecting us from pathogens in our food.


Given the important role they play, it seems reasonable to consider supporting healthy enzyme levels. Bitters support your body’s ability to promote the natural production and release digestive enzymes.* Digestive enzyme supplementation, however, side-steps the natural production of enzymes by directly supplying them.

Digestive enzymes skip our body’s healthy, natural process and instead arrives at the end of the chain with a temporary fix from the outside world.

These supplements usually contain just one or a few enzymes (isolated from plant, fungal or animal sources), which means for some people it may not be the best fix for the job. If you know that you are specifically deficient in a particular digestive enzyme, such as amylase or lactase, for example, bitters may be a better place to start for overall digestive support.* Digestive enzymes may be a great next step if additional support is needed.

Bitters, on the other hand, enhance the body's natural digestive function.

From the moment they hit the tongue, bitters stimulate not only enzyme release throughout the entire digestive tract, but also other integral digestive secretions such as stomach acid (HCl) and bile.* Digestion is complex and dynamic with lots of interdependent aspects. This being the case, a comprehensive approach is generally helpful when supporting digestive health. Bitters are often the balanced, gentle, and effective solution in addition to a whole-foods diet supportive of your gut and microbiome health.

When choosing between digestive enzymes and bitters, we use this analogy: If you needed to make salad on a daily basis, would you rather someone give you a single carrot (digestive enzyme supplement) each day or a garden with seeds for 10 different vegetables (bitters)? Bitters give your digestive system much more to work with and support self-reliance.

The answer seems obvious: Pass the bitters, please! Or, gift them this season–check out our bitters gift profile!

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