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Lesson 4: Digestive Bitters Are Not Rocket Science Either — The Grow Network Community
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Lesson 4: Digestive Bitters Are Not Rocket Science Either

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  • toreytorey Posts: 2,781 admin

    When does the bitters course become available on TGN? Looking forward to longer discussions.

  • toreytorey Posts: 2,781 admin

    Awesome! I have just started. It is very cold today so a good project for staying inside.

  • annbeck62annbeck62 Posts: 392 ✭✭✭

    Does anyone have a good way to use artichoke leaf? I got some because it is so good for the liver and tried making a tea. But it is so extremely bitter that I can't drink it. I guess I could always put it in capsules but was looking for other options.

  • judsoncarroll4judsoncarroll4 Posts: 3,403 admin

    I'd do digestive bitters. In capsule, you won't get the benefit of the bitter taste. I think artichoke might pair well with herbs in the mint family... maybe sage?

  • annbeck62annbeck62 Posts: 392 ✭✭✭

    @judsoncarroll4 thanks, I will try that.

  • judsoncarroll4judsoncarroll4 Posts: 3,403 admin

    And/or maybe yarrow, since yarrow taken cold reduces liver inflammation.

  • toreytorey Posts: 2,781 admin
    edited February 11

    @annbeck62 In Rosalee's book, Wild Remedies, there is a recipe for Douglas Fir and Mandarin bitters that uses a small amount of artichoke leaf. I was one of the recipe testers for this particular recipe so I purchased the artichoke leaf but the only way I could get it was in a pound package. So now I had a pound to deal with. I have been using it in my soup stocks. You can't taste it in there. When I make the bitters again, I will be adding much more artichoke leaf than was called for in the recipe.

    Everyone has different taste buds. To me artichoke leaf has hardly any flavour.

    But I am one of those strange people that loves bitters to the point that I when was doing fit testing recently (for N95 & P100 masks) with Bitrex, I couldn't taste the Bitrex at all. We are going to have to repeat the test with Saccharin.

    I'm in agreement with @judsoncarroll4 that I think the bitter taste is a necessary part of taking bitters. Not so effective in capsules. When you taste it on your tongue that is the start of the process. The taste gets your digestive juices flowing. You might want to give Rosalee's recipe a try. Or you could add artichoke to any other bitters recipe. If you are still put off by bitter, try Rosalee's recipe for Strawberry & Chamomile Vinegar Bitters which is actually quite sweet (due to the strawberries and honey) and makes an excellent salad dressing base. It sometimes helps to accustom your taste to bitters with a milder bitter such as this. https://www.herbalremediesadvice.org/digestive-bitters.html Then you can work up to something like gentian.

    If you wanted to take it in tea form, you could blend it as suggested with one of the many flavours of mint or something else from that family. Or something more strongly aromatic such as conifer needles. Or something sweet such as licorice or cinnamon.

  • annbeck62annbeck62 Posts: 392 ✭✭✭

    @torey thanks for the link. Interesting you can barely taste it. I either read or someone told me artichoke leaf is the most bitter herb so got some and tried it. But it was way to much for me to do as a tea. I will try blending it with other herbs and see if that goes better. Like you, I have a pound of it and I hate to let it go to waste.

  • frogvalleyfrogvalley Posts: 530 ✭✭✭✭
    edited February 11

    My very first memory of using bitters, in a more traditional use, was when we were on vacation at Hilton Head Island, South Carolina a long time ago. We went to the supermarket and bought plain fizzy/tonic water along with a bitter mixture they sold in the adult beverage section plus our groceries for the week.

    By the end of the week, the groceries and the bitters were almost gone, BUT I also realized coincidentally that my eye twitch that had been going on for months had vanished, too. Hmmmm. We packed everything up and went home after stopping to pick up a couple extra bottles of the bitters since it was made down there.

    The eye twitch came back some time later and coincidentally, I decided to finish off the rest of the bitters with the tonic water. Again, my twitch disappeared. Could there be a connection? I looked up each ingredient in the Homeopathic Materials Medica as well as in herbals. The one of the items in the bitters that caught my eye (no pun intended) was Cinchona Bark. Well, it turns out that eye twitches (as well as malaria) are helped with this herb.

    Here is a fun and relatively recent article https://calgaryvisioncentre.com/news/2017/3/21/why-is-my-eyelid-twitching about Cinchona Bark. I later realized that using Bittermilk (the brand of the bitters) with tonic water gave me a double dose of Cinchona Bark. It only took a few days before the twitching stopped altogether. I didn't use much of either, but it didn't happen again for about five years. Recently, I experienced a recurrence of the twitch and just drank a designer tonic water. It took a little longer, but again, the issue went away.

    I welcome retiring tomorrow and FINALLY learn to make bitters that I like to use, not that I "should" use.

  • toreytorey Posts: 2,781 admin

    @frogvalley Congratulations on your retirement! Here's to making lots of bitters!

  • vickeymvickeym Posts: 707 ✭✭✭✭

    judsoncarroll4Just finished your bitters course. Very informative and easy to watch. Great job.

    Would love more information on purchasing the herbs kits once you have them available. I know your information is not for medicinal advice, however my brother has both type 2 diabetes and impaired kidney function. I would love to get him on the swedish bitters to see if it "might" help him. Even a little bit would be a benefit.

  • judsoncarroll4judsoncarroll4 Posts: 3,403 admin

    Thanks - I had fun making it. Hopefully I'll get to do some more someday.

    I I think the Swedish Bitters would be worth trying, but I wonder if the camphor may irritate the kidneys. What do you think, @torey ? Bitters are, generally very good for diabetes, and if he does not have an issue with high blood pressure, perhaps one that includes licorice might help strengthen the kidneys. Did you see the info I posted on prickly pear cactus? The pads, de-spined of course, taken as food or juiced is very helpful for blood sugar issues.

  • toreytorey Posts: 2,781 admin

    Forgot to mention to @vickeym, definitely no juniper berries with cases of kidney impairment.

  • vickeymvickeym Posts: 707 ✭✭✭✭

    judsoncarroll4, torey Thank you both for the irritation warnings. Guess I'll be looking to source ingredients for your Daily Bitters Recipe instead for him.

    Have not found the prickly pear information yet, though it will have to be sourced from outside as well. Don't think I can make it happy enough to grow here in Alaska. We are -10 right now and have been in negative double digits at night all week with probable -20 or so lows for the next week and possible highs in the negative single digits. Unfortunately, this is actually a pretty mild winter this year.

    A question just for curiosity...Does fire cider count as a bitter? My current batch has horseradish, ginger, onion, garlic, jalapeno, turmeric, ginger, lemon, oregano, sage, thyme, rosemary, nettles, echinacea, black pepper and blueberries.

  • frogvalleyfrogvalley Posts: 530 ✭✭✭✭

    @torey Why do you say no juniper berries with kidney impairment? There are several things that suggest it's use for kidneys. Not disputing you, just wondering as I have kidney issues and have never heard this, hence have used them.

  • toreytorey Posts: 2,781 admin

    @frogvalley Juniper is used to help with kidneys but usually for sluggish kidneys to help stimulate and tonify. Its often in combinations for urinary issues or in combination with hydrangea for helping to dissolve kidney stones that have made their way into the bladder.

    However, it is my understanding that someone who has advanced kidney disease or is suffering from loss of kidney function, that juniper could be too stimulating and cause further damage. It is likely a matter of dose as well. It is one of those warnings that I was taught in school.

    I only mentioned it here because of the issue mentioned in a previous post about the individual having impaired kidney function.

  • frogvalleyfrogvalley Posts: 530 ✭✭✭✭

    Thank you @torey for explaining that to me/us. I don't know about you, but if I don't have to personally experience the issue involved with giving the wrong herb, I'd rather not. So much easier to pick you brain. :)

  • judsoncarroll4judsoncarroll4 Posts: 3,403 admin

    My understanding is that juniper and pine are similar in that the terpenes (I think) can irritate the kidneys with prolonged use or high concentrations.

  • frogvalleyfrogvalley Posts: 530 ✭✭✭✭

    I'll have to remember that @judsoncarroll4 . Thank you.

  • annbeck62annbeck62 Posts: 392 ✭✭✭

    So I find this interesting. When I used the artichoke leaf on it's own to make a tea and it was so bitter I couldn't drink it. This thread inspired me to experiment with a simple bitters recipe. I just decanted a tincture of equal parts artichoke leaf, cardamom, and orange peel. It made a really nice blend and I can barely taste the artichoke leaf. My next experiment will be to make a blended tea to see what happens.

  • toreytorey Posts: 2,781 admin

    @annbeck62 I'm glad you persevered with the artichoke and have found a way to use it. The sweetness of the orange peel might have been the complement that took the edge off the bitter.

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