The detox season arrives right after the party season. Many of us choose January as a time to clean-up, replace the champagne glass with a glass of water, and try to eat as healthy as possible. With the recent popularity of detoxing, several companies have developed new products and strategies to help cleanse our livers, intestines, and kidneys.
Bitter herbs and elixirs are as old as the hills, but they’re getting a fresh new look from celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow, the queen of detox. Bitter herbs represent a natural solution used for centuries by monks and nuns in fasting. Today we know the same bitter herbs used by Hildegard von Bingen in the middle ages, help stimulate fat-burning and weight control — bitter herbs that can be found in Hildegard’s Original Bitters Tablets.
What are Bitters?
Bitter elixirs, powders, or tinctures contain natural bitter substances from herbs such as gentian, wormwood or ginger. There’s an old German saying, “was bitter im mund ist dem magen gesund” (“bitter in the mouth, for a healthy stomach”) accurately describes the effects of bitters for our digestive health.
The tradition of bitter natural elixirs goes back to ancient Greece. Hippocrates recommended bitter herbs to heal various ailments. In the Middle Ages Hildegard of Bingen, the founder of naturopathy and alterative medicine, recorded tens of recipes using bitter substances derived from herbs and plants. Ancient Indian Ayurvedic teachings and traditional Chinese medicine emphasize the importance of bitter substances. Find more information in our post on What are Bitters?
What Happened to our Bitter Taste?
These days, however, bitter substances have fallen into oblivion. On this site we talk a lot about the value of bitters in the context of Hildegard’s ancient nutrition. Specifically, how bitters improve overall health, yet they remain a lost taste.
Bitters have disappeared in part because our eating habits have changed dramatically. And, following the decline in demand for bitter substances, our agricultural complex has responded by cultivating plants with less bitter flavors. Our diets have replaced natural flavors with artificial flavor enhancers.
The disappearance of bitter flavors corresponds with a laser focus on sweet and salty flavors. As a result, we lose the natural balance among the five flavor profiles in our palettes. Hildegard would suggest a balance of moderation or discretio, reminding us that leaning out of balance increases the probability that we fall out of balance.
Faster Fat Without Bitter Substances
A shame actually, because bitter substances contribute to basic gut and intestinal health. Not surprisingly, the effects of bitters on our bodies starts on the tongue, where they stimulate the production of saliva and gastric juice. This in turn promotes the digestive process and ensures that all nutrients and vital substances in food are better absorbed. In addition, bitter substances support a detoxification function of the liver, have a de-acidifying effect, and ultimately strengthen the immune system.
Bitter substances contribute to weight loss, serving as natural appetite suppressant. As soon as something bitter hits the tongue, the taste receptors tell the brain that something inedible is on the way. This effect balances appetite and stems cravings (particularly for sugar). It also helps burn fat faster.
How To Use Bitters to Burn Fat
There are vegetables and fruits that contain bitter substances. Consider vegetables like radiccio, endive salad, and artichoke. Or, citrus fruits, suhc as grapefruit, lime, orange and lemon (see our list of bitter foods). Bitters also appear in herbs, like dandelion, peppermint, thyme, marjoram, rosemary and tarragon (see our related post on bitter herbs).
Most practical, however, are bitter elixirs, which contain all the essential medicinal herbs together in a single dose. Ideally, these are the bitter herb combinations used since antiquity by monks and nuns to moderate appetite during fasting.
Before each meal, consume bitter substances as an aperitif. To ensure that the cleansing and de-acidification also runs at full speed at night, you can take bitter substances just before going to bed.
The More Bitters the Better
Though you may not appreciate the flavor at first, you quickly get used to the bitter taste. And, before long, you might actually crave bitters in your diet. It follows the old German adage, “the less you like the taste of bitters, the more you need them!” Check out our bitters tablets today and see how you might be able to incorperate them within your diet.