What are Bitters?

The first place you may have heard of bitters is in a bar. If you’re a bartender or you love to enjoy a classic cocktails you may know a splash of orange bitters always compliments a dry martini.

Bitters may not be common in the standard American diet, but has been used for a long time in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda to stimulate the digestive system. This powerful medicine that can be use everyday for a variety of digestive problems, such as gas and bloating after a meal or indigestion.

While maintaining a healthy diet is important, over time digestive juices tend to decrease as we age. This article will introduce bitters – a wonderful addition to any diet to ease digestive discomfort and better absorb nutrients!

How Bitters work?

Our tongue is covered in taste receptors called T2Rs. These receptors detect the bitter flavor and increases salivation. They then send a message to the vagus nerve that stimulate the gallbladder and pancreas.

Scientific studies have shown that the gallbladder and pancreas secrete gastric juices to help break down food more efficiently and help your body better absorb nutrients.

Additionally, the taste can curb sugar cravings, making it an ideal after dinner ritual to help digest food more efficiently and pay attention to hunger cues instead of habitually looking for a sugary treat.

A small controlled study of 20 adults showed that when consuming bitterd before a meal participants consumed 20% less calories compared to the placebo as it triggers “fullness” hormones.

7 Bitters for Good Digestion

Goldenseal and Oregon Grape Root

These are antimicrobials, which revs up the immune system or actively fights microbes. Anti-microbial bitters are great for anyone needing an immune boost to fight off an infection while bitter properties help you break down your food to better absorb the nutrients.

Chamomile, Hops, and California Poppy

These are nervine bitters that have calming effect of the nervous system. Nervine bitters can help relieve stress and anxiety while calming the digestive system-perfect for the transition after dinner and before bed.

Licorice and Devil’s Claw

These are anti-inflammatory that reduce inflammation in the body. Anti-inflammatory bitters would be helpful for anyone suffering from arthritis, asthma, hepatitis, or any other inflammation causing condition.

The Bottom Line

Bitters can be used by anyone from serious digestive issues to light gas and bloating after a meal.

One of the easiest ways to use bitters is to buy them already made. Brands I like include Urban Moonshine.  Their tonics andl tinctures contain different organic herbs for liver boost, immunity, and relaxation. You only need to take a dropper full before or after meals.

Herbs are amazingly complex, they don’t just have bitter properties that help with digestion but they have secondary properties where you can get two actions for the price of one. Follow the instructions on the label and consult with a specialist if you are taking any medications.

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