Benefits of Bitter Herbs
June 15, 2022
Why Are Bitters Good for You?
Plant bitters may help to stimulate the digestive system and improve food absorption.* When
your taste buds register the flavor of bitterness, they send a signal that triggers an increased production of digestive enzymes and stomach acid. This in turn supports healthy digestive function and the absorption of nutrients. Throughout most of history, humans subsisted primarily on wild plants — meaning our ancient
ancestors’ diets were rich in herbal bitters. As processed and packaged foods became more widely available, other flavors — namely salty, savory and sweet — replaced bitter as the primary taste in the human diet.
From irritable bowel syndrome to leaky gut, digestive ailments have become increasingly
common in our modern era. While eating healthfully, exercising regularly and minimizing stress
will always be the first solution for healing digestive disorders, supplementing with bitter herbs is
yet another way to support a healthy gut.
5 Bitter Herbs & Their Benefits
Often dismissed as a common weed by American homeowners, dandelion has a long history of use in traditional medicine. Evidence of this history lives on in the flower’s scientific name,
Taraxacum, which is derived from the Greek words “taraxos” (disorder) and “akos” (remedy). Specifically, healers have used this bitter herb to support digestive health and to stimulate the
liver and gallbladder for nearly 3,000 years.*
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, dandelion is used to reduce inflammation in the liver and to
promote vital organ health.* Arab physicians began using dandelion root in the 10th century as
a digestive aid, while Native American healers have long used the plant to treat kidney and
Chamomile is a well known calming herb that is highly regarded for its ability to soothe the body and mind before bed. But chamomile is also a gentle bitter herb that may help to ease digestive
ailments such as nausea and indigestion.* When sipped before or after a meal, the bitter compounds and volatile oils in chamomile tea may help to break up gas in the digestive tract and to optimize nutrient absorption from food.*
Chicory is rich in bitter compounds, especially lactucin and lactucopicrin. It also contains high concentrations of the prebiotic fiber inulin, making it a powerhouse herb for gut health.* Chicory
is featured in a number of The Republic of Tea’s herbal blends, such as get clean® – No. 7 Herb Tea for Detoxing. When steeped in water, chicory yields a similar taste and color to coffee. In fact, it has been used as a coffee substitute in Europe since the 1700s, and was also used by soldiers during the American Civil War.
4. Milk Thistle
Milk thistle has long been prized as one of the planet’s best herbal hepatoprotectives, or liver protectors.* This is primarily due to the plant’s high concentration of the compound silymarin,
which may help keep toxins from attaching to liver cells and support the liver’s natural detoxification processes.* However, milk thistle is also rich in tannins and bitter compounds that may further help to stimulate and support digestion.*
Natvive to northern China, schisandra is a vine plant that produces edible, medicinal berries. The Chinese name for schisandra is wǔ wèi zi, for “five flavor fruit” — so named because the
fruit contains five flavors: sweet, salty, sour, spicy and of course, bitter. Thanks in part to these bitter compounds, sipping tea made with schisandra may help to support
healthy digestion.* Schisandra may also support liver function by stimulating the release of enzymes that facilitate detoxification.* Schisandra berries are featured in our Get Clean PM Tea. When taken regularly as part of a healthy overall lifestyle, herbal bitters such as those listed above can be a valuable tool in supporting and maintaining digestive wellness.*
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.