April 3, 2015
Spring Renewal: Better with Bitters image

March 2015

By Rachael Keener, Urban Moonshine Herbal Writer

Spring is in the air. We measure it by the uptake in birdsong, the increase in daylight, crocuses bursting in the garden and Spring ephemerals blooming in the woods. We can also feel it in ourselves; excited by possibility and inspired by life awakening all around us. The world is abuzz with Spring cleaning; ridding of the old to make way for the new. This preparation for renewal applies to our bodies as well. After a long winter of heavy foods, festive libations, and a more sedentary lifestyle our bodies and their hardworking organs could use some tuning and cleaning. One of the very best ways to approach Spring cleansing is with the digestive and liver support of bitters. Bitters enhance the body’s metabolic functions and bring sluggish digestion back on track.

Bitter taste receptors act as a super-highway of signaling to the rest of the digestive tract. When activated, they release important metabolic and digestive secretions including bile, HCL, and enzymes. These secretions, and by extension bitters themselves, ensure efficient breakdown and removal of food and of our body’s waste products. As you can see, tasting bitterness primes our bodies for digestion but also acts as a detoxification cue to the liver- signaling that it’s time to get to work removing clutter.

Historically our diets included a steady flow of bitter tasting plants. Now bitterness has been bred out of our fruits and veggies, and more of our food comes from factories than farms. As processed food prevails, our diets have become resoundingly deficient in this vital taste. This is why in modern times, bitters formulas act as a cornerstone to good health. The liquid extract is derived from powerful bitter plants used by herbalists for centuries. The blend is best taken regularly: before meals in most cases, but a few drops on the tongue after eating can also help in cases of heartburn.

Bitters are integral in waking up your metabolism for Spring cleansing and liver detox, though don’t forget them as a year-round tonic. Research supports their use in maintaining blood sugar balance, easing nausea, gas and bloating, and curbing cravings.

Cheers to Spring renewal!

Rachael Keener, Clinical Herbalist- Based out of Vermont, Rachael is a clinician, writer and community educator whose work is deeply rooted in both the art and science of herbalism.

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