Iberis amara (Bitter candytuft) – big effects brought about by small flowers 

White flowers of Iiberis amara’s, that can alleviate your digestive symptoms

The all-rounder for gastrointestinal complaints

The first mention of Iberis amara happened a long, long time ago: The Greek physician Galenos (131 - 215 A.D.) is said to have treated an Iberian patient with the flowers of the bitter candytuft. In the late Middle Ages it was used as an easily obtainable home remedy for cramps and inflammations, usually in the form of wine or a tonic. Today the medicinal plant is used as part of the combination preparation Iberogast® especially for symptoms of the gastrointestinal tract: These include not only bloating or abdominal cramps, but also feeling of fullness or nausea. 

Twigs of herbs in glass jars, on a brown, stone-like background.

The origins of Iberis amara

The rocky shores of the Mediterranean Sea were the perfect ground for this highly adaptable plant. Nowadays it’s often used to fill out rock gardens across Europe, with its tiny lacy white flowers, which are a perfect companion for late blooming plants. Each candytuft flower has four different-sized white petals, resembling a small bow.  

Iberis amara’s has a sweet smell but tastes quite bitter – and this is part of its name. It derives from the latin word “amarus”, which means bitter. The genus name “Iberis” is Greek and means "cress". It is also possible, however, that the name comes from the ancient Romanic name of Spain (Iberia), where the plant grew and, as already mentioned, found its first known patient. 

The name “bitter candytuft” also reminds of its origins, even though it’s reminiscent of the other side of the Mediterranean. “Candytuft” isn’t connected to sweet-tasting sweets, but to Candia, one of the old names for Heraklion, the biggest city on the island of Creta, where the plant used to grow in abundance.  

Nowadays the plant is classified as endangered in some countries, as agriculture has taken over a big part of its natural habitat.

The effect of Iberis amara on the gastrointestinal tract

The medicinal plant has the extraordinary ability to affect the gastrointestinal motility. Its bitter extract has a tonicizing effect on slack muscles such as in the lower, transporter area of the stomach. This last property can help counteract feelings of fullness.  

As part of Iberogast®, the extracts from dried bitter candytuft flowers can quickly combat feelings of fullness, while additionally regulating acid production and contributing to protect the mucosa and thus, might relieve heartburn. Iberis amara also protects against the formation of free radicals thanks to the plant substances it contains. Patients suffering from functional GI disorders may also benefit from the medicinal plant in Iberogast® due to its tonicizing effect on the intestinal musculature.

At a glance: The effect of bitter candytuft in Iberogast®

The following table shows the different active benefits of iberis amara in Iberogast®:

Active benefits of iberis amara in the frame of irritable stomach   
Activation of the musculature in the lower stomach 
Relaxation of the musculature in the upper stomach   
Regulation of acid production 
Protection of the mucosa 


 Light Impact
 Medium Impact

 High Impact

Graphic showing drop of liquid with images of herbs and flowers inside it.

Interesting facts about Iberis amara

Did you know, that:

  • ​​​​​​the Bayer Vital GmbH grows bitter candytuft in large cultures around the company headquarters in Darmstadt? And it has been doing that for over 50 years. 
  • the wild-breeding medicinal plant is threatened with extinction in Germany? Isolated patches occur only on fields and in vineyards in the southwest. 
  • the iberis amara flowers smell sweet, but taste bitter? 
  • the bitter candytuft flowers bloom annually from May to August? 
A bottle of Iberogast on green background, surrounded by herbs

Get the power of nature into your home!

Buy Iberogast® prescription-free from your pharmacy.