Health Benefits of Bitters

Many people are interested in the purported health benefits associated with bitters. In this page, we explore some of the non-cocktail-related reasons why you might be interested in enjoying our products, as well as the science and history that underpins bitters as a natural supplement.

bitters health benefitsThe Origins of Bitterness

Bitterness is a taste experience that has evolutionary implications. Before humans developed complex language and record-keeping systems to help us classify and remember which plants and animals were harmful if ingested, we relied on the experience of bitterness, among other clues, to help us decide. A bitter taste often indicates a toxic substance that could make you sick (at the very least) or kill you (at the very worst). So, those humans who found poisonous substances to taste bad, and therefore avoided them, had a much better chance of surviving long enough to have offspring that shared their genes and therefore the same adaptive aversion to such tastes.

But there is a catch.

In his book, “Bitterman’s Field Guide to Bitters and Amari,” Mark Bitterman explains, “by avoiding bitter-tasting foods, we miss out on all the nutrients they hold. Bitter foods are often very high in minerals, antioxidants, and other complex nutritive compounds.” So, the bitter sword cuts both ways. Some parts of us know instinctually to steer clear of bitter tastes, but other parts of us intrinsically crave the hard-to-find nutrients hidden away in those bitter roots and herbs.

Take Your Bitters, They’re Good For Ya 

bitter health benefits advertisementBefore the advent of modern medicine, bittering agents played a very important role in natural healing remedies. You may be familiar with the phrases “a bitter pill to swallow” or “a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down,” both of which hearken back to a time when medicine truly was an aversive-tasting, bitter tincture made by the local apothecary based on a number of sometimes-sound (but oftentimes not) pseudo-scientific assumptions.

Even though apothecaries couldn’t prove why some of their remedies were effective, centuries of careful observation across cultures provided them an intuitive knowledge of what natural ingredients could help alleviate the symptoms of certain ailments. Below, we provide a list of some common bitters ingredients and the properties that they possess.

Health Benefits of Certain Bitters Ingredients

Ingredient NameAssociated_PropertiesKey_Substances_and_CompoundsSources
GingerAnti-bacterial, reduces nausea. Anti-inflammatory effects can improve many physical conditions, from menstrual pain to arthritis.Gingerol, zingiberene, shogaol, ß-sesquiphelandrene, ar-curcumenehttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10793599

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11710709

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19216660

http://www.compoundchem.com/2014/11/27/ginger/

Peppercorns and ChilisAnti-inflammatory, reduce pain, increase metabolismCapsaicin, piperinehttp://www.compoundchem.com/2014/01/15/why-chilli-peppers-are-spicy-the-chemistry-of-a-chilli/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4477151/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21852280

CinnamonAntioxidant, Anti-inflammatory, helps to reduce LDL cholesterol and maintain HDL cholesterol. Anti-microbial properties. Aids in the control of blood glucose.Cinnamaldehydehttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4003790/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14633804

CardamomAids digestion, curbs flatulence, used by some cultures to prevent dental/gum disease. Used as a relaxation aid in aromatherapy.a-terpineol, limonene, menthonehttp://www.spicesmedicinalherbs.com/green-cardamom-spice-uses-constituents.html

https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/herbs-and-spices/health-benefits-of-cardamom.html

Anise/FennelAntimicrobial, antioxidant, and analgesic propertiesAnethole, eucalyptol, alpha pinenehttp://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378874111003035

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illicium_verum

ClovesAnti-oxidant, anaesthetic, antiseptic, and has anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antibacterial properties.Eugenol, 2-heptanone, methyl salicylatehttp://naturalsociety.com/cloves-are-the-best-antioxidant-says-new-study/

http://www.compoundchem.com/2014/04/09/guarding-against-toothache-premature-ejaculation-the-chemistry-of-cloves/

Citrus Oil Sedative, antidepressant, antiseptic properties. Used extensively in aromatherapy.Alpha Pinene, Citronellal, Limonene, Linalool, and Neralhttps://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/essential-oils/orange-essential-oil.html

http://www.bioline.org.br/pdf?cj12043http://www.ifrj.upm.edu.my/18%20(04)%202011/(10)IFRJ-2011-062.pdf

LavenderAntioxidant, antibacterial, anti-anxiety. Used extensively in aromatherapy. Linalool, Eucalyptol, Camphorhttp://www.academicjournals.org/article/article1380119091_Hui%20et%20al.pdf

The Drunken Botanist, by Amy Stewart

ChamomileAnti-inflammatory, sedative, antiseptic. Used in many teas and occasionally as an ingredient in aromatherapy.Azulene, apigenin, luteolin, patuletinhttp://www.centerchem.com/Products/DownloadFile.aspx?FileID=6571

http://naturalsociety.com/9-amazing-health-benefits-of-chamomile-tea/

HopsSedative and anti-inflammatory qualities.Humulone, cohumulone, adhumulone, posthumulone, prehumulone, myrcene, lupulin, caryophyllene, http://www.compoundchem.com/2014/07/10/beerchemicals/

https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/essential-oils/hops-essential-oil.html

Disclaimer: We here at Embitterment are not doctors, and you should not take any of the content on this page or anywhere else on this website as medical advice. Please read our full disclaimer to learn more.