Spring Tonics for the Spring Equinox
Winter is a time of slowing down. Cozying up by a warm fire and eating all those comfort foods we love. However, after a long winter of being inside everything inside the body becomes more stagnant. Toxins can build up in the liver, or digestion can be a bit more difficult because of all the heavy foods we eat. That’s why for hundreds of years people of many cultures have depended on eating bitter greens in the spring to get their bodies out of that stagnant state and get things moving again.
Plants such as dandelion root, burdock root, juniper, chamomile, ginger, and even the rind of grapefruit all provide this bitter quality that is beneficial for digestion.
How do you prepare a bitters formula? Simply take some or all the herbs listed above and place them in a jar. (1-2 tablespoons of each in a quart size jar will work great!) Pour in some cane alcohol, vodka, brandy or a mixture of each into your jar until your herbs are completely covered. Screw the lid on and shake! Leave this jar in a place away from sunlight, shake daily, and strain out the herbs in 1 month!
But why? The alkaloids, sesquiterpenes, iridoids or monoterpene lactones are the herbal constituents responsible for triggering the bitter response on the human tongue. These phytoconstituents are considered anti-inflammatory anticarcinogenic, and antiseptic.
Bitter herbs stimulate the entire digestive tract to secrete digestive juices, it is very evident because of the increase of saliva immediately after taking them. Saliva contains amylase the very first digestive enzyme to begin the breakdown of nutrients. Therefore, the best time to consume bitters is around 30 minutes prior to eating a meal. You might wonder how much do you have to take? Only a few drops of the tincture will be plenty around 10-15 drops on your tongue will be enough to stimulate all of the digestive juices you need. Taking more than this can cause digestive upset.
Bitter leafy greens such as arugula, dandelion leaf, and nasturtium are also extremely helpful to move stagnant blood in our vital organs, stimulate digestion, and they invigorate our spirits with the warmth of spring. So, take some drops of your bitters formula, make yourself a healthy salad of bitter greens, and enjoy!
Happy Spring Equinox everyone.