Are Swedish Bitters Right for You?

Bitters are something most of us leave to the bartenders. A little dash makes that cocktail just right. But bitters have long had a strong connection to human health. And one in particular, which may seem like it's found behind the bar, actually isn't. We were curious about this little unheard of gem, and how it might benefit health. 

Swedish Bitters

Swedish bitters, also sometimes called Swedish tincture, is an old apothecary remedy dating back to the 15th century. And they're not exactly the same as what we find behind the bar. They're actually an herbal infusion Historically, Swedish bitters have been used to treat several health problems, but it’s also been used in folk medicine to boost the immune system. 

Swedish bitters are a concoction of several herbs made into a tincture together. The oldest recipe contains 11 herbs and roots, and a newer one contains 22, but they're relatively similar in their uses. The most resourced book on the topic lists 40 ailments for which the tincture is commonly used. 

Swedish Tincture May Help Ease Stress

A combination of Swedish bitters may be good at relieving stress levels in the body. Some components may act as calming agents and may help fight off bouts of anxiety. Lavender helps to soothe nerves naturally and promotes sleep. Passionflower boosts GABA levels in the central nervous system and may help people who suffer from anxiety attacks.  

Swedish Bitters May Aid Digestive Health

The body has receptors for bitter compounds, according to Healthline. They are called T2Rs. Found in the mouth, gut and liver, the stimulation of T2Rs promotes a healthy digestive system. This aids with absorption in the stomach and helps to detox the liver naturally. 

Bitters may also help curb sugar and food cravings by stimulating the release of hunger-controlling hormones like peptide YY (PPY) and GLP-1. As a result, bitters may help treat overeating through appetite suppression. 

Swedish Bitters and Overall Health

Pairing it with turmeric and ginger may boost immunity to help ward off certain viruses and bacteria.  Some swear by it as a topical healer as well, applying it to bites or dry skin. 

The ingredients include some wonder herbs:

  • Angelica Root
  • Rhubarb Root
  • Saffron
  • Aloe
  • ...and several more. Recipes vary.

How to Use Bitters

There are hundreds of different types of herbs and bitters. Each has different benefits and medicinal properties. There are several recipes for how to prepare and use bitters. But of course, we have to urge caution as herbs are not to be taken any more lightly than a prescription. Many herbs can be toxic. Many can interfere with existing medications, and many are just not studied enough to know their full effects. So please speak to a physician before starting to take any herbal supplements, no matter how old the recipe.

For those interested in pursuing the tincture, there are several sources available where the herbs for the tincture can be purchased pre-blended to make tincturing easy.  Adding herbal recipe ingredients to a jar with alcohol and allowing them to sit for 10 days to 2 weeks to make your own tincture is one way. From there, you can use the resulting tincture as drops to add to drinks or food. Dosing for this method can be irregular, and caution should be used.

Bitters do live up to their name and often have a sour, bitter taste. Mixing them with a natural sweetener may help curb the aftertaste. 

Are Swedish bitters right for you? Whatever concoction you might choose to improve your wellbeing, consider trying it with an open mind and palate—the taste may not be appealing at first. Be sure to talk to your healthcare provider before trying bitters and be aware of potential side effects. Because most bitters are alcohol-based, do not use them if you are allergic to alcohol, suffer from liver or stomach issues or might be pregnant.

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1/5/2021 8:00:00 AM
Wellness Editor
Written by Wellness Editor
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