In the “Ask Crystal” series, I answer reader questions via blog and video posts. To submit your own question, click here.
“What are your thoughts on Swedish bitters and Iberogast [for gastroparesis symptoms]?” – Huda
Huda, I’m glad you asked! It’s been nearly six years since I first mentioned Iberogast on this blog and, like hypnotherapy, I’m surprised how many people with GP still aren’t being made aware of this very safe, very effective treatment option.
Remember, like all other treatment options — prescription drugs, included — it probably won’t work very well on its own. You’ll experience the best results when Iberogast, or anything else, is used as part of a comprehensive management plan.
Iberogast is an over-the-counter liquid herbal supplement that is used to treat bloating, heartburn, nausea, and stomach pain related to functional dyspepsia, IBS, GERD, and/or gastroparesis. While it’s relatively new to America, it’s been used in Europe for over forty years. It has a very good safety record, with no reported side effects or drug interactions.
It’s thought to be safe in pregnancy but no studies have been conducted. Be sure to talk with your doctor if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. It does contain alcohol but because the dose is so small (20 drops), the amount is said to be less than you’d ingest from eating fermented food.
Iberogast is made up of 9 herbal extracts, including Iberis amara, for which it is named, as well as Angelica, Chamomile, Caraway fruit, St. Mary’s Thistle, Balm leaves, Peppermint leaves, Celandine, and Licorice root. If you’re allergic to any of the ingredients, you should not take Iberogast.
According to the manufacturer, Iberogast:
- Accelerates gastric emptying
- Reduces pain and cramping
- Alleviates heartburn by increasing the content of mucosa protective factors
- Relieves bloating and induces expulsion of gas from the intestines
While Swedish bitters and Iberogast are similar in that they are both herbal digestive aids, I’m far more inclined to recommend Iberogast as it’s particular combination of herbs has been studied and found effective in the treatment of functional gastrointestinal disorders.
In fact, it’s been found to be as effective as cisapride (Propulsid; no longer readily available in the US) and more effective than metoclopromide (Reglan) for reducing symptoms, including nausea and vomiting.
Each dose is 20 drops, dissolved in a small amount of water, taken at mealtimes. The taste is tolerable. I’ve used Iberogast on-and-off since 2009 and I do notice a difference in my symptoms, especially bloating and reflux, when I use it regularly.
I typically order mine from Amazon. The price is around $30 for the 100ml size, which lasts a fairly long time. They just released a new 20ml size, which will be far more convenient for traveling and eating away from home. (I bring along a small dosing cup.)
July 2015 Purchasing Update
Iberogast is currently out-of-stock and/or ridiculously expensive on Amazon. The 100ml sized bottles can be purchased online at Feel Good Natural Health Store for $25 for one or $70 for a pack of 3.
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. Talk with your healthcare provider about any questions you may have related to your condition or your treatment plan.