These are stressful times, and emotions can show up in the body – and create physical imbalances. For many people, like myself, stress can trigger what I can only describe as a grumpy belly. Bloating and loud gurgling noises after eating, you might feel indigestion, heartburn, gas or cramping.
And often too, our skin tells us when our digestion is off balance. As an herbalist, I work with the skin to pick up on those cues: Acne, rosacea, psoriasis. Even dry, flaky skin and dullness… can be the skin expressing our body’s need for digestive support.
Bitters can be a helpful response, to guide you to optimal digestion – which may then help clear conditions that showed up on the skin. In this article I’ll show you how to make your own delicious bitters, with simple ingredients. It does take time to make, and you can purchase bitters online faster, but I think this is an opportunity to learn how to work with herbs and create your own wellness.
Bitters are an old herbal remedy. It’s made with herbs that have a strong bitter taste, that are infused in spirits. You take a few drops just before eating a meal, like an Apéritif.
The taste of bitterness on the tongue, is what kick starts the whole digestive process – stimulating stomach acids, bile and enzymes to break down food, and better absorb nutrients. It supports the liver functions, to clear waste and toxins from the body.
You can also include bitter tasting foods into your diet to support a healthier digestion, like kale, arugula and radishes.
How to use bitters
The simplest way is to take a 1/4 teaspoon before you eat. You can also add it to sparkling water and drink it that way. By the way, bitters in sparkling water is actually an old remedy for hangovers!
Bitters are also used in cocktail recipes, you can add it to alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks. I love adding bitters to my daily Herbal Tonics for that extra gut support.
Here’s a simple recipe that turned out delicious. The secret is to use the whole lemon, the inner fruit and the outer rind. It gives such a bright and lemony flavor, but you still get that hit of bitterness that makes this a potent digestive blend.
Chamomile not only is a bitter herb, but also a good gut herb that helps to calm and soothe. The lemon peel is also a bitter element, and provides lots of Vitamin C too! I like to add just a touch of maple syrup for flavor, but you don’t want to add too much!
Lemon & Chamomile Bitters
- 1 Lemon
- 2 tbsp Chamomile
- 4oz Brandy
- 1 tsp Maple Syrup
- Cut the lemon, the whole fruit and rind into small pieces.
- Fill a mason jar with the lemon.
- Add in the dried chamomile and maple syrup.
- Pour in the brandy until it fully covers the botanicals.
- Close the lid and let it sit for 6 weeks
- After 6 weeks, strain and store the bitters in a smaller bottle, or if you have one with a dropper top (like this)