Over time, one of our very favorite places to look for effective natural remedies has become what we call “the olden days” where the practices of the people before us are forgotten but still living — we love going back to the basics, and that's just how we re-discovered digestive bitters. Around for ages, bitters is a natural remedy used for upset stomach, indigestion and heartburn. It was common practice to take your bitters before bed every night to keep the belly functioning properly.
What are Digestive Bitters?
Digestive bitters is a liquid remedy made from the extracts of bitter tasting foods, herbs and roots including dandelion, rhubarb, gentian and angelica roots, fennel seed and orange peel. Just about any bitter food can be extracted and used for this purpose, and there are several brands of digestive bitters, each formulated differently by the manufacturer.
How Digestive Bitters Work
The tongue was designed to sense and process all the different tastes: sweet, sour, salty and bitter. Well, it was discovered that there are bitter taste receptors all throughout the digestive tract too. Cells that have the ability to sense bitter foods in the digestive tract work in cooperation with the body's other digestive mechanisms to keep the machine well-oiled and running smoothly, literally.
Digestive bitters are to be tasted on the tongue, not swallowed like a pill, because the bitter taste triggers the receptors all over the digestive tract to activate and start doing their jobs of creating bile, stomach acid and digestive enzymes, and effectively processing whatever comes down the pipe.
As it turns out, bitter foods are critical to a properly working gut, and the extremely limited, sugar-laden diet typical of most people is sorely lacking the necessary bitter elements which is a major reason we're seeing so many people with belly troubles. Unhealthy guts = unhealthy people.
Image credit: Gwen's Nest
We found that digestive bitters works fast to relieve heartburn and upset stomach caused by indigestion, and we've replaced our antacids and all of our stomach-upset products with our favorite organic bitters from Urban Moonshine.
Knowledge about the importance of stomach acid is beginning to come to light, and people are realizing that their heartburn is often caused by too little stomach acid, not too much, and antacids just make the problem worse over time by stopping the stomach from functioning the way it's supposed to, by stunting the production of acid. Bile is the same way. Too little bile causes problems with digestion, even the inability to digest, and we can become caught in a vicious cycle of belly upset from top to bottom.
Digestive bitters liquid, perhaps counter-intuitively, works to increase stomach acid and bile throughout the body which promotes proper digestive functioning. Not only does this solve the immediate problem of indigestion and heartburn, it also prevents the long-term negative effects caused by minimizing the production of these essential digestive elements as with conventional indigestion and heartburn medications.
- Digestive bitters liquid supplement should not be used during pregnancy. According to Urban Moonshine: “Both gentian (Gentiana lutea) root and angelica (A. archangelica) root are generally avoided during pregnancy. Both have a traditional history as emmenagogues, meaning they were used to stimulate and increase menstrual flow. Gentian is strongly bitter, containing chemicals such as secoiridoids that have been linked to miscarriage in animal models; angelical contains psoralens and strong essential oils that can stimulate uterine contractions in animal models. While the evidence is limited and there are no case reports of any issue in humans, it generally is of enough concern that herbalists recommend steering clear of these herbs during pregnancy.”
- Be aware that digestive bitter extracts are made with alcohol, and should be used carefully.
- Digestive bitters should not be used if nausea or vomiting is present.