Today's tip and topic is on Herbal Bitters.
"It is very possible that the current national health crisis could be turned radically around simply by rebalancing our plate with the medicinal virtues of bitterness" - Weston A Price Foundation.
Many cultures are never without their bitters and even deem it necessary! When consumed, bitters (which can be attained from bark, leaves and roots) stimulate the production of saliva, gastric juices & bile to balance the appetite & prime digestion.
Daily consumption of bitters has been shown to:
°Curb sugar cravings
° Maintain blood sugar levels
°Calm stomach upset including gas & bloating
°Ease constipation (Caution: Swedish bitters can cause a dependancy due to its strong stimulating action)
°Encourage digestive enzyme, bile & HCL production #acidreflux anyone?
°Protect the Liver and aid Pancreas
°Heal inflammatory damage to gut wall = reducing allergies!
The compounds in bitters are considered to have no nutritional purpose to the plant (or us) but are used to protect itself against microbes, oxidative damage & predators (us). But now the protective mechanism designed to expel those potentially poisonous compounds from the body has become muted/tolerable & a highly beneficial reflex that stimulates & tonifies our entire digestive tract! Humans (particularly during the Depression) recognized the digestive stimulation effects of bitters & began to apply them in the diet.
Try this: Consume a bitter. Wait 15-30 min. What do you notice? Increased appetite? Hunger pains? Watery mouth? This article from Weston A. Price Foundation explains what is happening..
"Starting in your mouth, you’ll notice that your salivary glands have increased their output of enzyme-rich saliva, helping to break down complex starches into smaller and more easily digested oligosaccharides.
In the stomach, the hormone gastrin has stimulated the secretion of hydrochloric acid. The acidity helps break down protein, enhances the bioavailability of many minerals (especially calcium) and destroys any harmful microbes present in your food. It’s interesting to note that more people have levels of gastric acid that are too low rather than the opposite, due to stress or simply aging. Low levels of gastric acid contribute to poor nutrition and increased susceptibility to gastrointestinal infections.
Gastrin also stimulates secretion of pepsin—an enzyme necessary for breaking large protein molecules into smaller parts—and intrinsic factor, necessary for the absorption of vitamin B12.
The smooth muscle of the stomach is also stimulated by the bitter reflex, which increases the rate of gastric emptying, and contracts the esophageal sphincter to prevent the movement of acidic stomach contents upwards into the esophagus. Self-repair mechanisms in the intestinal wall are stimulated, enhancing cell division and growth. While many people with GERD are hesitant to partake of bitters due to the potential increase in stomach acidity, the combined effect of these actions actually can help this condition by ensuring that the stomach contents are moved downward rather than allowed to reflux back up and out of the stomach. Bitters also act to heal any damage done to the gastric mucosa.
Down in the small intestine, the stimulation caused by the bitter taste prompts your liver to increase its production of bile, and your gallbladder to increase bile excretion. Bile is necessary for fat digestion and the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients such as vitamins A, D and E. Healthy bile flow helps rid the liver of waste products such as oxidized cholesterol and hormonal metabolites, prevents gall stone formation, and provides lubrication of the intestines, easing the passage of stool. It should not be surprising that by enhancing movement of waste products out of the liver, bitter herbs have been found to exert a protective effect in liver conditions such as hepatitis and cirrhosis.
The effect of bitters also extends to the pancreas. With bitters, digestive enzyme secretions are increased, helping to promote the complete breakdown of nutrients into their absorbable units, preventing gas formation when large molecules are acted upon by bacteria further down the small intestine. The complete breakdown of proteins is particularly important, as the cross reactivity of immune cells between undigested protein molecules and intestinal cells plays an important role in the etiology of conditions such as celiac disease. Insulin and glucagon secretions are stimulated, helping to stabilize blood sugar levels. Many bitters formulations have been traditionally used in the treatment of type 2 diabetes, and it is interesting to point out that many naturally sweet substances are often paired with some bitterness in nature. Herbalist Jim McDonald hypothesizes that our cravings for sweetness may mask cravings for bitterness for this reason.
Thus, the taste of bitter can be used to strengthen the most fundamental aspect of our health—the ability to extract the nutrients from our foods and nourish our bodies.
So what are considered bitters and how do I use them? Easy!
Next time you're in the grocery store grab some arugula for your salad, coffee or very dark chocolate (at least 70%).
Better yet, though, go outside!! Those beautiful "weeds" in your yard called... Dandelion! Are wonderful bitters! 🌱
My favorites are Dandelion, Burdock (whole other post on this amazing herb), chicory (hello "Mormon coffee"!) and cassia or Ceylon cinnamon. I like to brew "Dandy Blend" or "Crio Bru" and add some added bitters. Or I use "Better Bitters" from #herbpharm
🌿Daily use of bitters can address some of the most rampant & heavily medicated health conditions of our time."
#eczema #psoriasis #gallbladderhealth #pancreashealth #arthritis #asthma #GERD #herbalbitters @urbanmoonshine @butterflyessentialoilsofficial @herbpharm
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