In the middle of my health journey, I discovered digestive bitters, also called Swedish bitters. They’re super simple to make, an easy concept, and yet not often talked about. Read on to learn why digestive bitters are something everyone should include in their health regimen, and how to make your own at home.
What Are Digestive Bitters?
Digestive bitters are concentrated “bitter” herbs, usually tinctured in alcohol, that improve digestion. Often taken before a meal, they increase your stomach acid and other digestive juices, which allows you to digest the foods more thoroughly. Wine or beer — which resembled its older, herbal version like “root” beer (it had real herbal roots!) — was taken before a meal for this reason, also.
Why Do You Need to Try Them?
Though Americans are used to the tastes sweet and salty, other cultures know that the taste of bitter is an essential part of the diet. Bitter greens and roots are often taken to increase digestive juices before, during, or after a meal and are often a standard part of their diet. The West is sorely lacking this crucial dietary need.
The bitter taste signals to the digestive organs to produce the juices necessary for digestion. If you suffer from indigestion, heartburn, bloating, gas, or burp often, you probably would benefit from adding bitters to your diet. It’s often thought by the Tums-taking crowd that heartburn is a result of too much stomach acid when it’s actually quite the opposite. Leaky gut has become a world-wide developed country issue, with most of us missing out on the nutrients we take in because our gut cannot process them. Bitters can help with that issue.
How to Use Digestive Bitters
Grab some bitters, or make your own, and take them as recommended 15-20 minutes before a meal. It may take a few days for your stomach acids to level out, but you should notice relief within 3-5 day. Try out different blends to find the one that helps you the most. Note your symptoms in a journal to track this.
If you have a history of stomach ulcers or gastritis, ask a doctor before starting bitters.
How to Make your own Bitters
Grab a pint of organic vodka, three tablespoons of the below herbs in root form, and a half teaspoon of dried orange peel. Allow the herbs to remain the vodka in a lidded, glass mason jar for 4-6 weeks. Strain out the herbs, and replace the infused vodka back into the jar or a glass dropper bottle. Label and store in a dark, cool place for 6 months.
Play around with the mixes to see what makes you feel best, or what tastes you like. Take a dropper full 15-20 minutes before a meal.
Bitter herbs often added include:
- Dandelion root (great for liver health — check your backyard and grab a shovel!)
- Burdock root (also found throughout the U.S., and on your pants and boots in early fall)
- Ginger (an all-around digestive aid and tasty too!)
- Black walnut (a tree found throughout the U.S., it is pictured above)
- Turmeric (it’s anti-inflammatory as well!)
- Cinnamon, anise, or fennel are popular stomach-smoothers and add flavor.
If you are not the DIY type, you can also purchase all-natural bitters here from Earthley!