Good digestion is considered to be a foundation of good health. Herbal bitters have a long tradition as a popular and natural approach to digestive problems. Bitters formulas can promote the digestion of fats and are useful for improving gas, bloating, excessive burping, heartburn, nausea and occasional constipation. Bitter herb formulas can also be supportive for liver function and may normalize appetite.
Globe artichoke, gentian, milk thistle, and burdockare historical classic bitters.Burdock roothas been used traditionally as a supportive liver tonic and natural laxative. It is also thought to promote liver detoxification caused by alcohol and selected toxins.Gentianis supportive for digestive disorders such as loss of appetite, bloating and fullness, flatulence, and heartburn.Milk thistlehas been used in botanical medicine for over 2000 years, especially to support the liver and gallbladder. Modern research has demonstrated numerous studies of milk thistle and its hepatoprotective/supportive effects in particular are too numerous to discuss here. Clinical trials of milk thistle are robust.
Artichokeappears to promote reduced symptoms of nausea, vomiting, flatulence, occasional constipation and abdominal pain. In a study of 553 individuals with these varying digestive disorders, symptoms decreased on average by 70.5% after 6 weeks.1Artichoke also has the ability to promote the flow of bile from the gall bladder and has been demonstrated in several studies by as much as 90 to 150%.2Artichoke has been a very important liver tonic and promotes detoxification, similarly to milk thistle.
Dandelion root has been used historically like other bitter herbs in supporting an array of digestive disorders. It was also used by many Native American tribes to promote digestive health, and used especially in dyspepsia and heartburn. Bitter constituents in the roots are thought to be responsible for these therapeutic effects. It has been able to promote increased bile production and flow of bile, promoting a direct effect on the gall bladder by causing it to contract and release its stored bile.2
Chamomile has been used as a popular supportive digestive herb for thousands of years, especially in Europe. One of these uses is in digestion with some specific uses in abdominal bloating/cramping, flatulence gas , liver tonic, nausea, and even occasional constipation. While scientific research appears to be lacking in these areas, its long successful historical use has made it a mainstay of digestive formulas.
Turmeric curcumin root has been used in traditional Asian medicines for gastrointestinal health support including liver/gallbladder discomfort, especially those associated with fatty meals. In a randomized, double-blind trail in 116 individuals with dyspepsia, 71% of the turmeric treated people had clinical improvement after 7 days.3Gallbladder contractions can be promoted by the administration of curcumin.4Low rates of gall stones have been observed in Indian populations where turmeric in the diet is high. It is thought that the turmeric inhibits the formation of cholesterol gallstones. Animal research supports this effect.5
Yellow dock is used as a mild natural laxative and tonic while also promoting bile production. A comprehensive traditional bitter formula also has selected herbs added to support the bitters to work better and to promote our system to react well to the bitters. Aromatic herbs help to mask the harsh bitter flavor and also to warm the digestive tract and promote the digestive secretions. Our formula contains cardamom and gingeras aromatic herbs for this purpose. Not only are aromatic herbs important to work with bitters, but sweet herbs as well, in order to counteract any aftertaste of the bitter. Fennelcan also serve as a sweet herb.
A select group of digestive enzymeshave been added to this formulation to enhance the digestion of fats, carbohydrates and proteins and thus result in promoting optimal digestion, absorption and elimination.
Cautions and Contraindications This formula may lower blood sugar; monitor if hypoglycemic or being treated for diabetes. Avoid during pregnancy, lactation.
Naturopathic Principles Improving digestion is a multifaceted process with the following guidelines exercise with a walk in the morning before eating and ideally before dinner as well; chew food well, avoid eating late at night or overeating; eat whole foods and reduce refined foods.
Drink at least 4 glasses of water per day. Increase raw green leafy salads and particularly increase bitter greens such as kale, mustard greens, collards or endive. Wild greens could include such as dandelion greens, plantain or yellow dock.
1 Fintelmann V. Antidyspeptic and lipid-lowering effects of artichoke leaf extract- Results of clinical studies into the efficacy and tolerance of Hepar SL forte involving 553 patients. J Gen Med 1996;2 3-19
2 Bohm K. Studies on the choleretic action of some drugs. Azneim-Forsh 1959;9 376-378.
3 Thamlikitkul V, Bunyapraphatsara N, Dechatiwongse T, et al. Randoized double blind study of Curcuma domestica Val. For dyspepsia. J Med Assoc Thai 1989;72 11 613-620.
4 Rasyid A, Lelo A. The effect of curcumin and placebo on human gallbladder function an ultrasound study. Aliment Pharmacol Ther 1999;13 2 245-249.
5 Hussain M, Chandrasekhara N. Effect on curcumin on cholesterol gallstone induction in mice. Indian J Med Res 1992;96 288-291.