Alternative Medicine

What are digestive bitters?

A Answers (2)

  • AStephen H. Atkins, PhD, Functional Medicine, answered
    Dr. Stephen Atkins - What are digestive bitters?

    Digestive bitters are foods or liquids that get the body ready for digestion, according to Dr. Stephen Atkins, an integrative medicine specialist. Watch the video to learn more about the sweet benefits of digestive bitters.

  • ADavid Hoffmann, Integrative Medicine, answered

    In our society today, bitter flavors are particularly limited, but most commonly found in black coffee, dark chocolate and certain leafy greens.  Bitters, however, are of major importance to the digestive system and to the rest of the body.  Quite simply, these are remedies that have a bitter taste.  Their broad effects offer an opportunity to treat the body as a whole.  These herbs can range from mildly bitter remedies like Burdock and Dandelion roots to profoundly bitter herbs such as Artichoke Leaf and Wormwood. 

    It is certain components of these herbs that contribute to their bitterness, and they are usually described as bitter principles.  The following are included in the many actions of bitters:

         • Stimulate appetite: This is especially helpful in conditions associated with reduced appetite, including depression.

         • Stimulate release of digestive juices: These digestive juices are released from a number of organs in the body, including the pancreas and liver, and each of these “juices” play a role in breaking down fats and improving digestion.

         • Aid the liver in detoxification work and increase the flow of bile:  The possibilities here are great as many health problems have their roots in an overworked liver.  This is the apparent value of bitters taken after meals, such as coffee and liquors like Chartreuse.

         • Help the gut wall repair damage: In this case, bitters can actually stimulate self-repair mechanisms.

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