Just before Passover, I found an article about bitter herbs in ancient times and throughout the world…enjoy!
Throughout the world – bitter herbs, in one form or another are part of everyday dining. One of the best known bitter herbs is gentian (nicknamed ‘bitter root’), this herb remains bitter even at 1 part per 20,000 dilution. Gentian is the main ingredient of of popular cocktail flavoring ‘Angostura Bitters’. Herbal aperitifs, such as the elecampane cordial are still served before the evening meal in many European homes. Greeks dine daily on horta, a bitter mix of chicory and dandelion greens sprinkled with olive oil. French and Italian families enjoy steamed or fried greens such as dandelion every day. The ritual Jewish Passover meal, eaten by Jewish people the world over includes bitter herbs(in biblical times, these were probably hyssop, wild lettuce, chicory, dandelion and sorrel). In Germany, centaury (gentian’s distant relative) is used to make a popular bitter drink. And in North America, we drink bitters without even knowing it – the primary ingredient in beer is the digestive bitter known as hops. Other bitters include goldenseal, Oregon grape root and blessed thistle. Note: you will not receive the same effects from capsules containing these bitter herbs. Ordinary black pepper will also help to encourage the production of stomach acids.
If you often suffer from indigestion after a high-protein meal, this may be because you need more of the enzymes that help your body digest protein. These can be found in papaya peels, pineapple, cucumbers and ginger. Since they are destroyed by high temperatures, you should consume them raw. If pineapple causes pain, you might have an ulcer. We’ll discuss ulcers in the September Kombucha Konnection newsletter.
An excellent treatment for low stomach acid problems is to take herbal bitters, which encourage your stomach to produce its own acid. The moment these herbs touch your taste buds, a message is sent to your brain, and your digestive fluids, including acids, are activated. Most health food stores will carry several types of bottled herbal bitters, or you can make your own.
3 teaspoons tincture of gentian rhizome
½ teaspoon tincture of dried orange peel
½ teaspoon tincture of cardamom seeds
Combine ingredients and put a few drops in warm water and drink. It doesn’t take much.
American Journal of Chinese Medicine(;17(1-2):51-6
New England Journal of Medicine;340(11):878-9
Journal of Family Practice;35(6):673-81
Journal of Surgical Research;15(6):385-90
Digestive Diseases &Sciences;40(3):580-3