If you didn’t know, the liver’s main job is removing toxins from the body and regulating our metabolic processes. It’s one of our most important organs, and one we sometimes neglect a bit (especially on weekends).

Bitters have been used for centuries to support liver function. One bittering agent that’s especially good at this is artichoke leaf.

Artichoke leaf has been shown to have medicinal properties, specifically on liver health and function.

One study in 2015 on animals showed that artichoke root demonstrated the ability to both protect the liver and help liver cells regenerate.

Artichokes also contain the flavonoid silymarin, which acts as a powerful liver protectant.

Silymarin has been shown to potentially treat nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and prevent liver cancer. Two other ingredients in this tonic, dandelion root and chicory root, also encourage liver health.

Recipe for liver-balancing bitters

Ingredients

  • 1 oz. dried artichoke root and leaf
  • 1 tbsp. dried dandelion root
  • 1 tbsp. dried chicory root
  • 1 tsp. dried grapefruit peel
  • 1 tsp. fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp. cardamom seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. dried ginger
  • 10 oz. nonalcoholic spirit (recommended: SEEDLIP’s Spice 94)

Directions

  1. Combine first 7 ingredients in a mason jar and pour alcohol-free spirit on top.
  2. Seal tightly and store the bitters in a cool, dark place.
  3. Let the bitters infuse until the desired strength is reached, about 2-4 weeks. Shake the jars regularly (about once per day).
  4. When ready, strain the bitters through a muslin cheesecloth or coffee filter. Store the strained bitters in an airtight container at room temperature.

To use: Take this bitters from a tincture dropped on or under your tongue, or blend with sparkling water.

Buy nonalcoholic spirits here.

Q:

Is there any reason, like a particular health concern or condition, that someone should avoid taking bitters?

A:

Some plants and herbs may interfere with certain medications. Examples include:

• Burdock, which may have a moderate effect on anticoagulants and diabetes medications.

• Dandelion may interfere with the absorption of antibiotics.

• Artichoke leaf may have a negative effect on those with gallstones by increasing bile flow.

Always speak with your doctor about the specific contraindications about certain plants and herbs when combined with medications. Also, be mindful of any allergies to the ingredients listed. In addition, use caution if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding as there’s not enough reliable information on the safety of certain bitters ingredients.

Healthline Medical TeamAnswers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.

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Tiffany La Forge is a professional chef, recipe developer, and food writer who runs the blog Parsnips and Pastries. Her blog focuses on real food for a balanced life, seasonal recipes, and approachable health advice. When she’s not in the kitchen, Tiffany enjoys yoga, hiking, traveling, organic gardening, and hanging out with her corgi, Cocoa. Visit her at her blog or on Instagram.