More Tips for Better Digestion....

January 2004

More Tips for Better Digestion....
Canadian Bitters for Better Health

Canadian Bitters is the best digestive tonic for individuals with flatulent dyspepsia (gas, bloating, burping, indigestion, and fullness associated with digestion). Other indications include constipation, digestive distress, and sluggish peristalsis. Sluggish elimination is often a result of reduced secretions from the digestive organs and small intestine. Excessive refined foods generate stress upon the liver and pancreas, and can impede the natural metabolic functions.

It may not be so much “you are what you eat” (although that is very important), but “you are what you digest.” Vibrant health is accomplished by a variety of means; digestion is among the most important of these. The use of herbal bitters has been an integral part of almost every herbal tradition in the world. Extensively used in Europe, where it is best known to us, herbal bitters help enhance digestion and assimilation by stimulating taste receptors on the tongue.

It is a common practice to consume bitters with meals amongst many nations especially after having over indulged in heavy, fatty foods, or after having over eaten. The bitter taste of these herbs is a necessary part of their effect, as the taste itself is helpful in stimulating appetite and digestive secretions. This increases the flow of bile, which supports both digestion and the body’s natural cleansing processes. It is an extremely valuable aid in revitalizing the digestive functions by also enhancing secretions of the liver, pancreas, stomach, and small intestine.

Herbal Bitters provides rich enzyme catalysts, which improve nutrient absorption. St. Francis Herb Farms (SFHF) Canadian Bitters, also protects the liver from toxins.

SFHF Canadian Bitters Ingredients and Benefits: 

Globe Artichoke (Cynara scolymus)
Containing Cynarin, a potent choloretic (promotes flow of bile), Artichoke is useful for congestion of the liver, and has liver regenerative effects similar to Milk Thistle. Globe artichoke can be used specifically for high cholesterol and hypoglycemia; and as a bitter stomachic for dyspepsia (poor digestion accompanied by gas and bloating), and gallstone disease.

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinalis)
Dandelion is classified as a bitter digestive stimulant, liver trophorestorative, diuretic, and detoxicant. Specific uses include inflammation and congestion of liver, gall bladder colic (from stones), eczema, acne, gout and rheumatism. Dandelion is our best-known liver and kidney alterative medicine. This activity is necessary in cases of chronic disease of various types, especially for arthritis, cancer, immune, and skin diseases.

Gentian (Gentiana lutea)
Gentian is one of our most respected herbs for tonifying the digestion. The British Herbal Pharmacopoeia recommends combining Gentian with Ginger and Cardamom for their digestive tonic effects. Gentian is considered specific for dyspepsia with anorexia (lack of appetite).

Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)
Fennel is considered a “carminative digestive stimulant that relieves flatus, abdominal distension, and dull pain.” Fennel is also considered a demulcent expectorant, for coughs, a stimulant to milk production in lactating mothers, and as a urinary agent for cystitis. Mixed with essential oils of Dill and Anise, Fennel is another component of “Gripe water” for infant colic. Fennel is often a component of laxative formulas, helping to allay the griping that often occurs as a result of the cathartic actions of many laxative herbs.

Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla)
Considered a nervine (calmative agent), Chamomile is effective for dyspepsia, cramping, and indigestion, especially when accompanied by nervousness. Chamomile is often thought of for children with abdominal pain associated with colic, also for inconsolable children with ear pain, from infection (often used in homeopathic dose, Chamomile can also be give in teaspoon doses (tea), or several drops of tincture every few minutes).

Turmeric (Curcuma longa)
Ayurvedic doctors have treated indigestion and heartburn with turmeric for centuries. Turmeric is reputed to be of benefit in: stimulating digestive enzymes, for treating peptic ulcers, ulcerative colitis, colic, and flatulence. Turmeric is a potent anti-oxidant. One study suggested that curcumin, because of its high antioxidant activity, might be a useful complement to standard cholesterol lowering drugs in the prevention and treatment of atherosclerosis. Turmeric has been found to reduce inflammation, important for the treatment of arthritis, injuries, and allergies. Turmeric has liver protective effects similar to milk thistle. Numerous studies reveal turmeric’s anti-cancer and especially cancer preventive effects. Dr. Virender Sodhi calls turmeric “a powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor, antiallergenic, antibacterial and anti-viral. That may be why it is used heavily in Indian cooking. Turmeric has shown to be toxic to salmonella and E. Coli bacteria”.

Burdock Root (Arctium lappa)
A staple of Japanese and macrobiotic diets, Burdock root is considered to have blood cleansing and general strengthening qualities. Although primarily employed as an alterative and disintoxicant for clearing boils, eczema, acne, psoriasis and other skin diseases, Burdock is also a bitter digestive, for aiding sluggish digestion associated with dyspepsia and anorexia (lack of appetite). As an alterative, Burdock can also be used for rheumatic complaints.

Black Walnut (Juglans nigra)
Often employed as an anti-fungal and anti-parasitic agent, Walnut liqueur is a traditional European aperitif drink taken before meals for aiding the digestion. Black Walnut has bitter properties, therefore its effectiveness for use in stomach and digestive complaints.

Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum)
A common spice in East Indian cooking, Cardamom is considered a warming digestive tonic. Warming (as opposed to cooling) refers to its action, from a traditional Chinese medical perspective. The primary groups of digestive tonics are considered to be the bitters; this bitter taste renders the herb to have cooling effect. To moderate the cooling effect that bitters have, warming herbs are added to the formula. Cardamom helps to relieve flatulent dyspepsia and anorexia (lack of appetite).

Calamus (Acorus calamus)
Maria Treben says “Calamus roots are not only used because of their strengthening effects, for overall weakness of the digestive system and flatulence as well as colic... but the roots stimulate a sluggish stomach and intestine and dissipate excess mucous.” Moreover, Treben recommends the root to “improve the appetite, and as an overall good remedy for cleansing the whole system...[Calamus] helps children who suffer from indigestibility of grain. Where there is too much or too little acid in the stomach, Calamus helps to even it out.” Maria Treben credits her experience with Calamus as having stimulated her interest in herbalism, as she claims it healed her mother of intestinal cancer. She claims to have helped “many hopeless cases... Particularly the Calamus roots brought about startling results again and again.” 

Ginger (Zingiber officinalis)
Modern herbalists utilize Ginger most prominently for its antiemetic (nausea), anti-inflammatory, and antiplatelet (to prevent blood clots) properties. Ginger has been traditionally used as a digestive stimulant and a diffusive stimulant. A diffusive stimulant refers to its circulatory enhancing activity, which helps reinforce the therapeutic activity of other herbs.

Administration and Dosage:
20 to 30 drops taken in a mouthful of water, before meals.

Digestive Bitters:

  • Improves appetite
  • Tones the digestive system
  • Boosts immunity
  • Enhances the secretion of digestive juices
  • Improves absorption of nutrients
  • Aids the natural cleansing process of the liver and gallbladder
  • Helps those who suffer from chronic metabolic problems and digestive difficulties which lend themselves to increased tension and stress.
  • Useful for people with problems of circulation, lack of physical and mental energy.
  • Indicated for those suffering with allergies
  • Eases constipation and regulates bowel movements
  • Helpful for those who have had their gallbladder removed
  • Reduces bloating and gas.
The following products mentioned in this article are available in the WholeApproach online store:
Digesticol DigestiveEnzymes
St. Francis Herb Farm Canadian Bitters