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Bitters: Why herbalists love them and how they help digestion

La Fría Written by Bouznika buy accutane cheap online Guido Mase

Bitters – one of the only preparations, culinary or medicinal, known simply by its flavor profile. They are even used in cocktails. In botanical medicine, we value the gentle but consistent effects bitters have in promoting digestive health and liver function. But a bottle of liquid herbal bitters holds something more: from the weedy roots and exotic spices it may contain, to the flavor itself (both challenging and strangely familiar), bitters bring the flavor of wild, unkept places into our lives. This gift is important, as it is largely absent from our diets today. In that sense, bitters are a distant echo of our foraging ancestors’ experience. Herbalists seek to turn this echo into a daily conversation.

The simple definition of bitters is “remedies that have a bitter taste” (1). In this sense, vegetables like radicchio (a variety of chicory, Cichorium intybus L.) would qualify, as might a strong cup of black coffee. In practice, bitters are often used in the form of a liquid extract, prepared from multiple botanicals including roots and spices. Part of the reason for this is to concentrate the bitter-tasting compounds and deliver an effective dose. Another is the difficulty in consuming a mug full of bitter tea: small amounts of a concentrated liquid are effective, and much more pleasant to take. Compliance is key with any medicine.

Guido Masé RH(AHG) is a clinical herbalist, herbal educator, and garden steward specializing in holistic Western herbalism, though his approach is eclectic and draws upon many influences. He spent his childhood in Italy, in the central Alps and in a Renaissance town called Ferrara. After traveling the United States, he settled into Vermont where he has been living since 1996.
He is a founder, faculty member and clinical supervisor at the Vermont Center for Integrative Herbalism, a 501(c)(3) non-profit herbal medicine clinic and school that provides comprehensive services focused on whole plants and whole foods. He serves as herbalist, principal scientist, and chief formulator at Traditional Medicinals, where he works on research, development, formulation and education for herbal teas, supplements, and Urban Moonshine bitters and tonics. He is a founding member of the Burlington Herb Clinic where he works as part of a collaborative clinical practice. He participates in herbal education at the University of Vermont, and is the author of The Wild Medicine Solution: Healing with Aromatic, Bitter and Tonic Plants (Healing Arts Press, 2013) and DIY Bitters (Fair Winds Press, 2016).
Guido's teaching style focuses on conveying the interconnections within the human organism and between the organism and its surrounding ecology. Relying on clinical experience, storytelling, and scientific research, he believes that true strength flows from nature, and that herbal medicine is key to sustainable, successful living.

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