European doctors have long recommended the bitter plants to treat disorders in liver and bladder. The bitter substances of some plants stimulate the glandular cells of the digestive organs. They accelerate gastric emptying; promote enzyme secretion and biliary excretion while stimulating intestinal peristalsis. When the metabolism tract and liver are working facilities, digestive disturbances are greatly reduced. Reflux, nausea, indigestion, bloating and headaches can be avoided.

The Artichoke, Boldo, Milk Thistle, dandelion and black radish plants are known for their bitter medicinal effects on the digestive system.

Founded in 1978, in Germany, and composed of physicians, pharmacists, pharmacologists and toxicologists, Commission E has done research on over 300 medicinal plants and approved or rejected their use, depending on whether the plants met the criteria of absolute security and reasonable efficiency. Worldwide, the Commission E is a reference tool used by doctors and pharmacists for prescription of medicinal plants.

The artichoke has an interesting phytopharmacology profile. Substances found in artichoke leaves are the most used formulas designed to relieve digestive and liver disorders. This herb has long been used to stimulate the liver and gallbladder, reduce the unpleasant symptoms of a hangover, and for lowering cholesterol. It also has antiemetic properties, and is an antispasmodic and carminative, which makes this plant popular with people who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome.

The cynarin, an active ingredient of the artichoke, has a remarkable antitoxic action on the liver and is particularly effective in reducing nausea and bloating and to relieve the sensation of heaviness and slowness that persists after meals.

Boldo has choleretic properties and promotes bile secretion by liver. It is used to relieve constipation and hepatobiliary disorders. This plant is very interesting, and is most of the time, used with other plants. Boldo promotes production of gastric juices, which helps to reduce bloating.

Milk Thistle is a tonic for the liver, which is anti-hepatotoxic and most powerful antioxidant. Silymarin is the active ingredient responsible for the therapeutic effects of milk thistle.

Silymarin is known to protect liver cells by increasing the capacity of detoxification of the liver and reducing inflammation. It works by stopping the process of degeneration of liver cells.

People, who take daily medications, consume alcohol regularly, work in a polluted environment, suffer from nausea, migraine, gallstones, hepatitis, jaundice or cirrhosis, would benefit from use milk thistle to protect their liver. On vacation, Milk Thistle should always accompany you, because it is recommended to treat food poisoning.

Like the artichoke, milk thistle stimulates the liver and promotes bile flow.

Dandelion is also used to relieve digestive problems. For action on the liver and biliary sphere, the roots of dandelion are more effective than the leaves, which have diuretic properties and helps prevent kidney stones.

The effects of dandelion are felt deeply on the digestive and urinary tract. Interestingly, its high concentration of potassium counteracts its diuretic action. It helps eliminate uric acid, which makes it valuable to combat joint pain and gout. In human blood, it helps eliminate toxins, thus improving many skin problems.

Its content of inulin makes it a plant of choice for toning the pancreas, improve the status of persons with prediabetes and hypoglycemia by helping to regulate blood sugar.

Associated with an herbal formula bitter dandelion deserves a prominent place to aid digestion and reduce water retention.

The radish is called the great “cleaner” of the liver and gall bladder. It is often used as part of a course of detoxification.

All types of radish, whether white, red or black, have more or less the same properties, but the horseradish is used for its medicinal properties.

As horseradish stimulates bile flow, if you had the gall bladder or you are prone to diarrhea, it would be preferable not to extract radish alone, but to select a bitter herbal formula.


Milk Thistle is the safest medicinal plant. We can all benefit from its therapeutic properties.

The Artichoke, Boldo, Dandelion and horseradish should be taken under supervision in case of gallstones and especially when used for treatment of an obstructed bile duct.

Many myths and false fears have been circulating about medicinal plants and their interactions. Proportionally, serious adverse reactions following the consumption of natural products are far fewer than those associated with drugs. Used properly, natural health products can help you maintain and improve your health.

The period of the holiday season is the open invitation to abuse food, but remember that if your digestion is usually slow and laborious, it is the bitter plants that will be friendly to your liver and digestion.


Newall, Anderson and Phillipson, Herbal Medicine, The Pharmaceutical Press, 1996.