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Bringing elements of the homestead to everyday life.

fermentation • cooking • herbalism • foraging • traditional crafts • cooking • community

Digestive Bitters

Women's Heritage

This is the season of feasting, and it is almost impossible not to overindulge this time of year.  There is a simple step you can take, though, that will help with the too-full-feeling, indigestion, gas and bloating that can accompany eating too many rich foods, and that is to take herbal bitters, either before or after a big meal.  

First of all what are herbal bitters?  Herbal bitters are essentially a tincture, or extract, of bitter herbs.  They aid the body's digestion by increasing the production of digestive juices and enzymes, offering quick relief by supporting your body's gastrointestinal tract.  They are traditionally used to aide digestion but have a long list of other benefits including heartburn relief, supporting liver function and healthy skin, gently detoxifying to the body and they also help to curb sugar cravings.*

The thing about bitters is they have a strong taste, and for them to work, you do have to taste them.  Taking the same herbs in pill form or diluted in juice would not have the same effect, because your tongue needs to send the message to your stomach to start secreting those juices.  To take your bitters, just squeeze a few drops to one dropper full of bitters right onto your tongue, either before or after any big meal.  

To go one step further, make your own bitters!  It's easy, and if you make your own you can tailor them to your own taste.  Here is my simple recipe for herbal bitters:

  • 1 t dandelion root
  • 1 t burdock root
  • 1 t ginger root
  • 1 t orange peel
  • 1 t fennel seed

Place all herbs in a glass jar, so that the jar is filled about 1/3 full.  Fill to 1 inch from top with vodka and screw on the top.  Shake once a day for two weeks, then let sit in a cool, dark place for two more weeks.  Strain out the solids, reserving the liquid.  If you'd like, strain again through a coffee filter to avoid sediment, and then store your bitters in amber bottles with dropper tops.

Bon Appetit!

Love, Ashley

*The statements on this page have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This post is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.