Bitters and the bitter principle for gut health and bile support.
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Medical definition of bitter principle: any of various neutral substances of strong bitter taste extracted from plants.
Bitters a are varied group of plant constituents or molecules with a pronounced bitter taste – these are the active ingredients of the plant. Bitter herbs are often hepatics & cholagogues (more on this in our biohacking Facebook group), and must be ‘tasted’ to produce these effects.
The bitter principles; The bitter principles work by stimulating the bitter receptors of the tongue and increasing saliva secretion. Thus, it is always advisable to taste and chew the herbs. Sorry your ACV pills and gummies are no good!😉
The taste or sensation of bitterness is directed primarily by the vagus nerve to the central nervous system, leading to various physiological effects – bitter tastes stimulate the vagus nerve in your tongue (although this nerve originates in your brain), which in turn signals the digestive system to start getting ready for digestion with the production of stomach acid, bile acids, digestive enzymes and peristalsis if needed. This vagal stimulation also tells the body (and mind) to rest and digest – relax and slow down. 🙏
Benefits of bitters;
– General stimulation of the flow of digestive juices (acid, mucus, enzymes & bile) from the pancreas, duodenum and liver. Aiding digestion and detoxification.
– Stimulate appetite
– Stimulate peristalsis
– Aid the liver in detoxification
– Regulatory effect upon secretion by the pancreas of the hormones that regulate blood sugar (insulin & glucagon)
– Help the gut wall repair damage by stimulating self-repair mechanisms
– Establish parasympathetic dominance, putting you in that rest and digest state
– Anti microbial
– Ant inflammatory
Some herbal examples include:
Some other herbs/substances that may be considered ‘bitter’ are;
– Apple cider vinegar
– Lemon and Lime juice
– Yerba mate
– Bitter melon
– Green tea
– Bitter or sour berries like cranberries and raspberries.
The more bitter, sour, tart, or astringent a food, the better!
In my practice, it is very noticeable that those that have a palate more geared towards bitter food have healthier guts, better detoxification action, better success with fat loss and better long term success. 🙂