HERBAL BITTERS CAN SAVE YOUR STOMACH ACHES AND RELIEVE CONSTIPATION
I visited my friend Magdalena Wszelaki's home in Colorado and she asked if we could talk more about my product that totally saved her stomach one night. While she was traveling in Italy, she ate some fried food and woke up in the middle of the night…I'll let her tell you the story. Watch the first video to hear it straight from her.
Watch the second video to learn how easy it is to start making your very own herbal bitters at home.
WHAT ARE BITTERS?
Bitter compounds occur naturally in many foods – grapefruit, greens, coffee, and chocolate. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), there are five different distinct flavors that the tongue tastes: sweet, bitter, sour, spicy and salty. These five flavors, when eaten in a balanced manner, properly nourish the organ systems. Bitter is the counterpart of sweet. In fact, when you start eating more bitter compounds, sweet foods begin to taste sweeter. Sweet vegetables begin to satisfy the sweet flavor on the tongue without the need for refined sugars – especially when the other flavors are balanced.
One hundred years ago, the average person consumed 11 pounds of sugar per year or 13.5 grams of sugar per day. In today’s modern cultures, sugar is eaten in increasing amounts. In fact, in the US between 57 and 70 pounds of sugar are eaten per person annually. The US dietary guidelines recommend that we consume between 25 and 29 grams of sugar per day. Most people are, in fact, eating (or drinking) 70 grams of sugar per day. That is about ½ cup of sugar per person per day. Wow, that’s a lot!
In fact, all this sugar is believed to be at the root of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. It feeds bad bacteria in the microbiome and leads to metabolic disorders.
Eating too much sugar is considered an imbalance of “Earth” in TCM. Bitters are a great way to combat that imbalance and reset the body’s need for sugar.
Bitters belong to the chemical group iridoids. Iridoids are produced by plants to prevent herbivores from eating them. They are also used as a defense against infection by microorganisms. The bitter taste indicates that there are iridoids present, which have therapeutic effects for us as humans.
Bitter compounds are found in roots, leaves, bark, fruit, seeds, and stems.
Herbalists use varying methods to extract the bitter compounds to make it easy to take them daily in a tincture, syrup, glycerite, lozenge, honey, or vinegar.
THE BENEFITS OF BOTANICAL BITTERS
Many people report immediate relief from nausea, tummy-aches, and indigestion when using botanical bitters.
Because bitters stimulate the vagus nerve, peristalsis increases, which means that food starts moving down the digestive tract. Many folks experience relief from constipation when taking herbal bitters before each meal.
Bloating is often caused by bacteria digesting your food and creating gases as a byproduct. When you take bitters before a meal, you stimulate digestive juices, which balances the pH of each digestive organ and gives the body a better chance at digesting the food before the bacteria get there little hands on it.
INCREASED ABSORPTION OF NUTRIENTS
Most diseases or health issues are caused by one of two things: under-nourishment or over-toxicity. Bitters help you get more nourishment from the food you eat and increase vitamin absorption, add to your mineral reserves, and nourish the body. Minerals, in general, are a little harder to digest, especially if your digestion is at all compromised. Make sure to take bitters when you are eating hard-to-digest fiber, protein, and fats. This will help you break down these nutrients more efficiently.
BALANCES THE MICROBIOME
Bitters can help balance the gut microbiome because you digest your food more fully leaving only fiber left over. Fiber is the perfect food for probiotics. Improper digestion of fats, proteins, and sugars can lead to pathogenic bacteria growing in your gut. This imbalance in the microbiome can lead to chronic health concerns like food intolerances, asthma, obesity, Type 2 diabetes, environmental allergies, and autoimmune issues.
RESULTS IN FAT LOSS
Continued stimulation of the bitters receptors in mice caused weight reduction and fat loss.
It appears that the stimulation of bitters receptors in mice increases metabolism as an increase of energy expenditure was measured.
NORMALIZES PLASMA LIPIDS
Stimulation of the intestinal bitters receptors in mice has shown increased bile acid metabolism, which lowered cholesterol numbers in the blood.
ENHANCES INSULIN SENSITIVITY
Another important benefit of bitters is stabilizIng blood sugar spikes. People notice when taking bitters their blood sugar stays even keel and does not spike as high so make sure to especially take bitters with higher carb or sugar-rich meals.
INDUCES BROAD SUPPRESSION OF INFLAMMATORY MARKERS
When the intestinal bitter taste receptor is activated, many inflammatory markers are suppressed.
AMELIORATES MULTIPLE EXPRESSIONS OF METABOLIC SYNDROME
Because bitters can increase insulin sensitivity and metabolism, it is shown to be an interesting option for the most common metabolic disorders of our time including diabetes, obesity, insulin resistance, pre-diabetes, and being overweight.
WHO IS BITTERS FOR?
Bitters have been used for millennia in many cultures around the world. It is safe and relevant for most people to take on a daily basis.
That said, not everyone should take bitters. For contraindications with herbs and medications or to see which herbs are allowed with pregnancy please refer to Herbal Contraindications & Drug Interactions. Gentian, contained in Liver Lover Warming Bitters, is not recommended for someone with gastric ulcers or gastritis. You can use the product once you heal the lining of your stomach. I recommend my Gut Rebuilding Program for dietary and herbal support for any digestive issues or questions you may have. Licorice is contraindicated with high blood pressure and other cardiac issues. Please consult with your doctor about possible contraindications. Naturopathic physicians are the most knowledgeable about herbal remedies and their contraindications.
HOW TO MAKE BITTERS
To extract these bitter components from plants, we use gluten-free alcohol made from sugar cane. There is no residual sugar left in the alcohol. The herbs are measured and placed in a clean mason jar. A measured amount of alcohol and water are poured over the top. The formula soaks for a few weeks and then the herbs are strained off. During this time, the alcohol and water extracts the alkaloids, iridoids, and other medicinal properties from the herbs. The final tincture is usually a color resembling the herbs used.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN BUYING BITTERS
You’ve probably tried bitters if you’ve ever had an Old Fashioned or other alcoholic drink that contains a liqueur using bitter herbs. When you watch a bartender sprinkle bitters into a drink, they are using mass-produced bitters that contain sugar and preservatives. They are not the highest quality products. Oftentimes artificial flavorings, colors, and preservatives are added to these concoctions.
Make sure you buy a formula that has been created by a trained herbalist. Throwing random herbs together is never a good idea, and a trained herbalist knows how to select herbs that work synergistically.
Sourcing herbs is an important topic. Some herbs are over-harvested and endangered as they gain popularity. Making sure a trained herbalist who has high standards of production and product selection is integral to a quality product that protects and honors delicate ecosystems, wildlife, and plant populations. We source the highest quality of herbs that have been third party tested for toxins or contaminants, we only use organic herbs and ensure that the herbs we are using are not being harvested in a manner that is destructive to the ecosystem. We only choose herbs that can be sustainably harvested and are not threatened or endangered.
BOTANICAL BITTERS THAT REDUCE GAS, BLOATING, AND CONSTIPATION WHILE BALANCING THE MICROBIOME
My signature blends of bitters are called Liver Lover Warming Bitters and Sweet & Gentle Bitters. I also sell a Bitters Bundle that includes 3 of each flavor so you can stock your office, dining table, car, purse, and nightstand.
I selected herbs that have long been famed for their digestive organ supporting abilities. Their anti-inflammatory properties improve digestion and they make such a difference that I recommend keeping a bottle in your kitchen, car, and purse.
LIVER LOVER WARMING BITTERS
My Liver Lover Warming Bitters contain a special blend of herbs that create a deliciously sweet flavor to accompany the bitter taste. You are meant to spray 3-10 sprays on the tongue before eating to help your body more fully digest minerals and vitamins present in the food.
You may take Liver Lover Warming Bitters before each meal. If you forget, go ahead and take it during or after the meal when you remember. If it is good for you, your body will tell you when it wants it.
If you forget to take it before your meal, take it right after. I do not recommend taking the Liver Lover Warming bitters before bed or in between meals unless you are trying to settle an upset stomach.
Liver Lover Warming Bitters Ingredients: Water, *Gluten-Free Alcohol, Gentian, Ginger, Orange Peel, Turmeric, Licorice Root. (*Signifies organic). The herbal ingredients are either organically grown or are hand-harvested and wild-crafted. Please note that the amount of alcohol per serving of bitters is equivalent or less than the alcohol present in ripe fruit.
SWEET & GENTLE BITTERS
Sweet and Gentle Bitters is formulated especially for those who need a gentler nudge to the digestive tract. This can be useful for people who are anxious, emotional eaters, highly sensitive, or stressed out.
You are meant to spray 3-10 sprays on the tongue before eating to help your body more fully digest minerals and vitamins present in the food. If you forget to take it before your meal, take it right after. Sweet and Gentle Bitters can be taken any time as it won’t excessively stimulate digestive juices, but will instead shift the nervous system into a parasympathetic state, which supports sleep, digestion, and healing. Many people take it before bed to help get a good night’s sleep. It shouldn’t make you sleepy during the day, but it does help switch your nervous system out of ‘fight, flight, or freeze’ and back into ‘rest and digest’.
This formula is safe for children to use and can also be used for attention issues related to the inability to focus, hyperactivity, ADD, and ADHD.
Sweet & Gentle Bitters Ingredients: Water, *Gluten-Free Alcohol, Catnip, Peppermint, Fennel Seed. (*Signifies organic). The herbal ingredients are either organically grown or are hand-harvested and wild-crafted.
This formula is safe for children. Please note that the amount of alcohol per serving of bitters is equivalent or less than the alcohol present in ripe fruit.
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Kok, Bernard P. et al (2018). Intestinal bitter taste receptor activation alters hormone secretion and imparts metabolic benefits. Molecular Metabolism, 16: 76-87. doi: 10.1016/j.molmet.2018.07.013
Maruga Raja, M., Sethiya, N., & Mishra, S. (2010). A comprehensive review on Nymphaea stellata: A traditionally used bitter. Journal Of Advanced Pharmaceutical Technology & Research, 1(3), 311. doi: 10.4103/0110-5558.72424
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(Editors) Walach, H., Frankfurt, O.: Forschende Komplementärmedizin / Research in Complementary Medicine. Forsch Komplementmed. doi: 10.1159/issn.1661-4119
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