The Ultimate Guide to Digestive Bitters
Since antiquity, cultures around the world have turned to digestive bitters as a natural way to soothe digestion issues.
They fell out of favor for a while, but today, digestive bitters along with their riot of spices, colors and flavors are making their way back to center stage.
We’re happy to see this return to our medicinal roots because digestive bitters have a long history of regulating digestion safely and all naturally.
Read on to discover what all the fuss is about and learn how you can benefit from digestive bitters as soon as tomorrow.
What are Digestive Bitters?
Bitters are effective and time-tested herbs that aid in digestion. They taste extremely bitter – hence the name. They also work to detoxify the liver and keep your digestive system in proper working order.
Throughout history, they’ve been used as a pre- or post-meal way to stimulate digestive wellness.
How Digestive Bitters Work
Many of us may not remember this lesson in our Anatomy and Physiology class, but the process of digestion actually starts in the mouth.
Once the bitter taste touches your tongue, it acts as a doorbell that alerts your digestive system, encouraging it to prepare for action. After this bitter-tasting sneak preview, the brain then releases gastrin – a digestive hormone that ignites a chain of neural actions.
As you can see, it’s the actual flavor of digestive bitters that sparks, engages and creates a challenge to the body’s digestive system.
They stimulate digestion by increasing the secretion of digestive enzymes that help break down food efficiently.
The Incredible Benefits of Digestive Bitters
- Aids in Digestion
This is one of the most popular benefits of digestive bitters. A small sip of bitter tea or a couple drops of a digestive bitter tincture after meals can help alleviate indigestion and heartburn.
Digestive bitters also help prime your body for digestion by stimulating the production of the fluid and enzymes needed for quick and efficient food digestion.
When taken prior to eating, they’re also great for treating gas and ensuring good bowel habits.
- Alleviates Nausea and Heartburn
A bitter blend of aromatic ingredients such as fenugreek and ginger can help ensure the valve at the end of our throat is tightly closed to avoid heartburn.
They also increase the production of hydrochloric acid. Many experts believe that too little of this acid is the culprit behind most episodes of heartburn.
- Promotes Liver Detoxification
Your liver works tirelessly every day to ensure toxin elimination, metabolism coordination and hormone processing, among many other things. Your liver needs to do its job – and do it well – in order for the rest of your body to function properly.
This is where digestive bitters come in:
They use their bitter flavor to send a reflex signal that wakes the liver up and keeps it going.
Digestive bitters also stimulate the contraction of the gallbladder to release hormones like CCK (cholecystokinin), which helps ensure healthy metabolism and bile synthesis.
- Dissipates Cravings for Sugar and Carbs
Our unhealthy relationship with sugar is due in large part to the onslaught of marketing in the food industry.
And the fact that our brains have been hardwired to crave carbs, sugars and processed snacks isn’t helping matters either.
Perhaps the greatest gift digestive bitters have to offer is helping to break our addiction to these sweet-tasting foods.
Not only do they curb cravings, but they also support a healthy appetite by making us feel satisfied. Plus, they support healthy cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
- Detoxifies the Skin
Over the years, herbalists have used bitter roots like dandelion to keep the skin healthy and supple. A good reason why digestive bitters support great skin goes back to its support of liver detoxification. This process helps clear “dirty blood” and other materials that irritate our tissues.
Digestive bitters also help by alleviating internal inflammation, which promotes the detox of our skin, liver and other body systems.
- Decreases Constipation
Research shows that constipation is primarily caused by deficiency in lubricating bile (aka dry intestine). Bile helps smoothly deliver digested food to the small intestine and also rid your liver of waste.
Digestive bitters increase the production of bile and eases constipation as a result.
Not only that, but digestive bitters also regulate bowel movement by stimulating your small intestine to produce gastric juices.
- Increases Nutrient Absorption
Long story short, you have a better chance of absorbing more nutrients from your food with bitters.
Remember earlier that we mentioned digestive bitters stimulate the stomach to produce gastric hormones, which control the amount of acid produced by your stomach.
If stomach acid is deficient during digestion, it's difficult for the body to break down food components like protein and carbohydrates.
So the fact that you're eating nutritious foods doesn’t guarantee your body is absorbing the nutrients from these healthy foods.
Nutrient absorption is largely dependent on the amount of stomach acid present at the time of digestion.
How to Use Bitter Herbs to Aid in Digestion
If you're ready to incorporate bitter herbs into your diet, here's how you can make the most of them:
- Start each meal with a green salad that contains dark, leafy greens like arugula, dandelion and chicory. You can also add lemon juice to the salad for flavor.
- Drink teas or use tinctures that contain herbal bitters 15 to 20 minutes before each meal.
- You can take a shot of Angostura bitters diluted in water if you overeat at a restaurant.
What to Look for in a Good Digestive Bitters Supplement
There are many great herbs that could go in a digestive bitters supplement. However, here are a few of the best to look for as you’re shopping for a quality digestive supplement.
Dandelion is a great herb that helps with bloating and constipation. In addition to helping your digestive system, it serves as both a tonic for your liver and a cleanser for your body.
Milk thistle is another effective herb that aids digestion by promoting the flow of bile. It has also been used for centuries to help maintain a healthy liver.
Peppermint has been lauded for years as a gastrointestinal aid. This digestive herb helps relieve stomach ache and indigestion. Research also shows its oil is highly effective in treating irritable bowel syndrome by easing cramps and bloating.
This warming spice is a personal favorite of the Chinese and ancient Greeks for its digestive healing ability. Its antiemetic properties are excellent for relieving stomach cramps and nausea.
Other herbs to consider:
- Lemon balm
- Yellow dock root
- Gentian Root
- Yarrow leaf
It always amazes me how simple natural remedies truly are. If you suffer with digestive issues like:
- And more
Digestive bitters may be just what you need to finally feel yourself again. They’re easy to find and simple to incorporate into your daily routine.
If you’re looking for organic, vegan and maximum strength, try our Organic Digestive Blend today.