Most people associate with term “bitter herbs” with the Jewish Passover feast, where they play an important part in the meal. However, outside of this, many people are not familiar with what herbs are actually considered to be bitter and what the benefits of these herbs might be.
Bitter herbs refer to a number of plants which include wormwood, tansy, hops, dandelion, gentian, rue and yarrow. They stimulate the bitter sense receptors located at the back of the tongue. This stimulation in turn sends signals to the central nervous system, triggering a number of responses that bring with them considerable health benefits, such as the ones below.
Appetite and Digestion EnhancementThe bitter tastes of these herbs can stimulate the production of digestive juices from various parts of the digestive tract including the mouth, stomach, pancreas and small intestines. This can help aid and improve the efficiency with which the body breaks down food into the nutrients it needs and can also help stimulate the appetite.
Liver StimulationThese herbs can also help stimulate the liver and increase its production of bile. Bile is another digestive juice which help the body to break down food and absorb its nutrients efficiently and its stimulation can thus lead to improvement in general health.
Gut RepairGut health is an issue which is receiving more media attention as further research comes to light that it is so important to overall human health. This is not only for issues of digestion but also for immunity. Bitter herbs seem to be able to help stimulate self-repair mechanisms in the gut, which can prevent the complications that can come from poor gut health.
Increased Endocrine InvolvementThese herbs have also been shown to have a stimulating effect on several endocrine glands like the pancreas, which then can secrete higher levels of both insulin and glucagon. These two hormones work together to ensure that blood sugar levels are kept in a healthy range, which is important for the overall health and function of the body.
Anti-Depressant EffectApart from stimulating various portions of the digestive and endocrine systems, bitter herbs can affect the body in more subtle, psychological ways and have been known to have a mild anti-depressant effect, especially in cases of a mild depression which can follow a bout of viral infection such as the flu or even the common cold.
While their name sounds off-putting, then, the use of bitter herbs should be considered, particularly by those who have poor appetite or other digestive problems. These potent herbs are able to improve digestion through the stimulation of various organs in the gastrointestinal tract and this can greatly improve the efficiency with which the body is able to break down food and take away the nutrients that are needed for continued good health.