What are bitters and are they good for me?

Dr-Harters-Wild Cherry Bitter

We’re everything but bitter about our favorite botanical tincture – bitters! But what exactly is bitters? In short, bitters (bitters, also plural) is an alcohol and botanical blend often used as a digestif or as a cocktail flavoring. Your favorite local bartender might be adding them to your favorite fizzy aperitif.

Bitters have been used as far back as ancient times in Egypt and became popular as a cocktail with soda water in the 1800s. Fun fact: my husband’s great, great, great, great Uncle started a medicine company in 1855 called Dr. Harter’s Medicine Company that ­featured a Wild Cherry bitter that was their best seller. The concoction was a blend of mostly dried roots, seeds and barks of plants soaked in alcohol to create a bitter-flavored treat.

A botanical tincture, bitters have historically been used to treat digestive complaints – from nausea and heartburn to abdominal pain and constipation. A small amount of the liquid (you only need a few drops!) is typically taken under the tongue or in a few ounces of soda water to help relieve digestive upset. It has been said that you have to TASTE the bitter flavor in order for the bitter herbs to do their job because the bitter receptors are on the tongue. However, in recent studies, it’s been noted that bitter receptors are found all over the body and have positive effects on the body’s immune and detoxification functions as well as the entire digestive tract. Bonus: this means bitters don’t have to taste bad. 

Bitters work in two different ways in the body: they stimulate digestive secretions and increase the tone of digestive organs. The plants used in bitters have different actions in the body depending on the strength of the bitterness as well as the individual medicinal action of the herb. For example, Dandelion is a mild bitter that can help with digestive upset and liver detoxification, while Chamomile is a medium bitter that aids the nervous system in staying calm.

To get the most from bitters, it is best to take them on a regular basis to aid with digestion. Take 5-10 drops of bitters about 15 minutes prior to meals to get the best results. Our DHB Bitters have an additional CBD component that assists with digestion and benefits your immune, detox and nervous system functions.

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