I LOVE HERBAL BITTERS!
Bitter herbs are an incredibly powerful tool for fixing digestion. Digestion starts in the mouth, and herbal bitters help kick start this process. The “bitter” taste hits our taste buds and starts to stimulate the production of gastric juices. When I work on gut healing for my clients, I am always aiming to add in things that will help to retrain the body to do what it needs to do. Things like bitter herbs, apple cider vinegar, and aloe vera help to do this, whereas things like HCl, pepsin, and ox bile are only replacing what is being lost- these are just crutches in the long term.
Herbal bitters help to:
- Regulate stomach acid
- Balance blood sugar levels
- Boost bile flow for fat absorption and detoxification (bile is a basically a natural laxative- and poor bile is a huge cause of constipation)
- Aid liver function
- Boost the immune system
- Increase nutrient assimilation
- And they can even help with stress and anxiety
- Encourage digestive enzyme production (which is why I recommend them over most regular enzyme supplements)
- Calm down heartburn, gas, and bloating
My Favorite Bitter Herbs
Most people already know how much I love dandelion root. One of the reasons why it is so helpful is because of its role as a bitter herb. Dandelion helps stimulate bile flow in the liver, which is an important factor for people trying to regain their health and detox effectively. One source that it actually quadruples bile flow!
My favorite ways to use dandelion include tea or a decoction. You can get the recipes here, or check out these photos so you can Pin them for later!
Gaia Herbs “Sweetish” Bitters
Gaia Herbs “Sweetish” Bitters are great! This blend includes Anise Seed, Cardamom, Fennel, Gentian, Ginger Root, Milk Thistle, Turmeric, and more. You just put 60 drops in a little bit of liquid about 15 minutes before each meal to help with digestion. So easy! I usually recommend to start with just a few drops at first just to work up to the full dose because increasing bile flow can start to initiate some detox.
Herb Pharm Better Bitters
Herb Pharm is another one of my favorite herbal companies. They offer several herbal bitter options: liquids(like the Gaia herbs formula above) or they even have sprays. The sprays are even easier (and great for on-the-go use!) as all you do is spray it 4 times in your mouth about 10 minutes before a meal. The sprays are STRONG tasting but it is kind of the point when it comes to bitters. We want to taste the bitter flavor as much as we can to help stimulate the gut.
The Herb Pharm bitters have a few flavors to choose from. I went with the Classic and Bittersweet sprays, and honestly there is not much of a difference in taste. They are both pretty strong tasting, but both effective!
Note for Nursing Mamas: Most of these bitters aren’t good while nursing (which stinks because we need that bile support postpartum!). I have found 3 options that are OK while nursing. This lactation formula has bitters in it, so it can help with milk supply as well. And this one is good while pregnant so I would think it is OK while nursing.
Dandelion tea is also ok while pregnant and nursing, I just wouldn’t overdo it. Maybe 1 cup a day would be good just for a bit of support. Obviously eating or drinking things like beets, artichokes, Apple cider vinegar, lemon water, and healthy fats help with bile as well as those are definitely safe during these times where we need lots of nourishment.