The Sweet Thing about Bitters

Why we need them back in our Diet

Bitter flavors tend to deliver the strongest response by the body. Many of us even react  with a shudder when something bitter hits our tongue. Our tongue is loaded with taste receptors designed to analyze the nutrients in food, including those called T2Rs which detect the bitter taste. When these receptors in your mouth are stimulated, a cascade of nerve signals reaches areas in the brain which prepare a plan of action for how the body should respond.

Information travels to our salivary glands, stomach, pancreas, liver and gallbladder, encouraging the production and release of digestive juices and enzymes. This obviously has beneficial effects, helping your body fully go into digestion mode and make more of its own digestive enzymes thus increasing your ability to get more nutrients from the food you eat. This means not only more saliva breaking down your food in the mouth, but also better breakdown of proteins in the stomach from the proper amount of stomach acid, restored regulation of muscles closing off the acid in your stomach, good breakdown of all foods by your pancreatic enzymes, and better-lubricated bowel movements from proper bile flow. Eventually, the tissues in your gut may be restored, so no more leaky gut!

Down along the gut, we find more T2Rs. Here, when stimulated by bitter compounds, cells studded with T2Rs directly stimulate tissues to secrete hormones into our bloodstream that contribute to feelings of fullness and satiety*. In fact, feeling satisfied though eating less is a huge benefit from including bitters in your lifestyle. This also tends to curb the cravings for carbs.

In nature most sweet things have had a bitter component balancing the metabolic reaction to sugars. Think wild apples and oranges, concord grapes, carrots that aren’t orange-colored, unrefined stevia and licorice. The problem is that in the last 100 years or so, agricultural companies have hybridized crops to breed the bitterness out of our foods to make them sell better. Also, food processing companies routinely reduce any bitterness, and add excess sugars and salt, substituting these more acceptable flavors.

Adding bitters back into our life can aid our digestion and elimination, lessen heartburn and nausea, restore the leaky gut, and help break the hold sugars and carbs have on our lives.






How best to add Bitters to your Diet

One way would be to add bitter greens into your salads, organic chicory, dandelion, arugula, radicchio.  Bitter tasting roots, such as dandelion or burdock, can also be included in stir-fries or soups.  But in today’s busy life the most convenient way is to use a bitters tincture –  several sprays into your mouth, or a dropperful right under your tongue or in in a little water.

At Southern Botanicals we stock the finest specialty  organic bitters. The product line has several flavors: Original, Maple, Citrus, Healthy Liver, and Apple Cider Vinegar (with no alcohol or glycerin). All are certified organic with ingredients sourced domestically, from small farms whenever possible. Some of the extract ingredients include the following:

Dandelion Root and Leaf (Taraxacum officinale), Artichoke leaf, Angelica Root (Angelica archangelica), Burdock Root (Arctium lappa), Yellow Dock Root (Rumex crispus), Gentian Root (Gentiana lutea), Orange Peel (Citrus aurantium), Fennel Seed (Foeniculum vulgare), Ginger Root (Zingiber officinale), Organic Essential Oils

Best of all – they are on sale!   Check our website  to see all ingredients and choose a formula that suits you.


Note: Taste receptors are the target of current research seeking new discoveries about how they work and benefit the human body. For example, bitter receptors, T2Rs, have been found in other tissues in the body, including the lungs and upper airways, where  recent studies have shown they seem to be involved in immune response and also create a surprising relaxation of the airway muscles.*  Some studies to start with follow:

Gut. 2014 Jan;63(1):179-90. doi: 10.1136/gutjnl-2013-305112. Epub 2013 Oct 16.  Taste receptors of the gut: emerging roles in health and disease. Depoortere I.

Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 2016 Aug;77(Pt B):197-204. doi: 10.1016/j.biocel.2016.03.011. Epub 2016 Mar 23.Bitter taste receptors: Extraoral roles in pathophysiology. Shaik FA1Singh N1Arakawa M2Duan K1Bhullar RP2Chelikani P3.

Trends Endocrinol Metab. 2013 Feb;24(2):92-100. doi: 10.1016/j.tem.2012.11.006. Epub 2012  Nutrient sensing in the gut: new roads to therapeutics? Janssen S1Depoortere I. Dec 21.

Nutrient sensing and signalling by the gut.  Rasoamanana R1Darcel NFromentin GTomé DProc Nutr Soc. 2012 Nov;71(4):446-55. doi: 10.1017/S0029665112000110. Epub 2012 Mar 27.

5 Herbal Teas to Try Right Now for Under the Weather Relief

Ingredients for Liver Cleanse Tea from Southern Botanicals

Ingredients for Liver Cleanse Tea from Southern Botanicals
Something as simple as a hot cup of herbal tea can give you the calm you crave when feeling under the weather.
Between feeling bone tired, stuffed up, achy and having a chest-rattling cough, you can’t wait for the symptoms to go away so you can get on with your life.

There are plenty of herbal teas that taste delicious and can help loosen the hold symptoms from a cold or flu infection have on you.
The aromatherapy from inhaling steaming herbs soothes irritated sinuses and lungs. The warm liquid encourages a sore throat to relax. And the properties the hot water extracts from the herbs help support your immune system, calm an upset stomach and break up congestion in your nose and chest.


Herbs That Can Quickly Help You Relieve Cold and Flu Symptoms

1) Ginger Tea – A cup of tea made with ginger has a wonderful warming effect on your body that feels very comforting if you have a chill from a fever. It’s an especially helpful relief if you have an upset stomach.

2) Clove Tea – An expectorant that makes it easier to cough up congestion in your lungs, a tea made with cloves can also encourage sinuses to open up so you can breathe easier and settle down an upset stomach.

3) Licorice Tea – With a delicious sweet flavor without the sugar, licorice supports your immune system while reducing soreness in your throat. Another fantastic herb for calming spasms in your lungs while thinning mucus so it’s easier for your cough to be productive instead of dry and irritating.

Clove, licorice, and a host of other scrumptious-tasting and strengthening herbs can be found in our Liver Cleanse tea. What does the liver have to do with Immune health?

Have you noticed that people tend to get sick if they have overeaten, and especially filled up on sugary things, or heavy foods that are hard to digest?

Out of the hundreds of functions, your liver performs, breaking down an excess of anything toxic so it can be cleared from your blood is one of its most critical jobs. The wrong foods stuck in your system can be cleared out better and faster with a bit of help for your liver. The individual herbs in Liver Cleanse Tea are good as above for congestion, not only in your lungs and nose, but also throughout your digestive system and blood: Dandelion Root*, Burdock Root*, Cinnamon Bark*, Carob Pod*, Fennel Seed*, Cardamom Seed*, Clove Bud*, Black Peppercorn*, Orange Peel*, Juniper Berry*, Ginger Root*, Parsley Root*, Licorice Root*, Pau d’Arco Bark+, Horsetail* and Chanca Piedra Leaf+ (*Organic, +Wildcrafted)

As an added plus, your liver breaks down the excess of certain hormones – including cortisol, the stress hormone. So gentle liver support calming you down from stress that might push you over the edge into illness also helps. Get Liver Cleanse Tea or find out more about it.

4) Peppermint Tea – Contains menthol which helps break up congestion along with having a calming and numbing effect. A helpful natural remedy when you have symptoms like a headache, nausea and congested sinuses.

5) Yarrow Tea – Relaxes you while offering great immune system support. This classic herbal remedy for colds and flu encourages your body to sweat which can help naturally reduce a fever.

Why the Best Herbal Teas are Made with Whole Herb Parts

Not all herbal teas are created equal. Oftentimes when you buy herbal tea bags at the store, the herbs have been dried and powdered beyond recognition and have less of the beneficial properties of the original plant.

You know that cooking with whole foods retains more of their nutrients, and the same is true for herbal tea. Have you ever made tea with whole berries, chunks of roots and pieces of leaves? The difference in taste and effect may amaze you!


Whole Clove Buds-Southern Botanicals

To me, when you get an herbal tea with ingredients like clove buds in it, you should be able to see whole clove buds in the tea blend, not powdered cloves.

These herbs can also be great aromatherapy when you lean over the pot of simmering tea and inhale the steam. The essential oils from cloves, ginger or peppermint billow into the air when you simmer those herbs, which also helps activate your immune system and clear congestion as you gently breathe in the steam.


Super-Easy Way to Make Herbal Tea With Whole Herb Parts

It’s easy to make a whole day’s worth of tea at once using bulk dry herb tea, so you can drink a hot cup in the morning, and take the rest with you in your water bottle to drink all day.

If you are not experienced in making tea from loose herb parts rather than a tea bag,
see this video to learn how easy it is. How To Brew Loose Herbal Tea for Maximum Potency

Cup of Herbal Tea-Southern BotanicalsAdditional Tips:
Place 1-3 TBSP herbs in a pot with water and let soak for a time. You can put the herbs straight in the water and just pour off the tea when done, or tie the herbs in a small muslin cotton bag to remove later, or you can use a strainer after simmering.

Bring 1 pint to 1 quart of water to a simmer. How much water you use here in ratio to your tea determines the potency of your tea. One Tablespoon to a pint is mild but still potent. Same for 2 Tablespoons herbs to a quart of water. A very strong potent tea is made with 3 Tablespoons herbs to a quart of water.

For lighter leaves like GingerMint Tea, turn off as soon as it comes to a simmer and let steep for 10 minutes or so.

For a chunkier tea with many berries and roots like Liver Cleanse Tea, simmer on low for about 10 – 15 minutes, then turn off the heat and steep while cooling.

Pour warm tea into your favorite tea cup or mug, breathe in the wonderful aroma and enjoy! Then you can let the rest sit and steep in the pot and drink at home throughout the day. Or, when cooled off enough, pour the rest into a glass water bottle to take with you and drink throughout the day for comfort and soothing great taste.

Hot herbal tea can help you breathe easier, relax and make any symptoms more manageable. Continuing to drink whole medicinal teas for a day or longer can help clear your system of congestion and irritating toxins, and build up your strength.

Taking a whole herbal tea regularly along with other herbs and healthy foods can help you build your immune fortress.

See our whole line Herbal Medicinal Teas for more excellent herbal support for your body systems.

You can also check out our other Immune Support items or specifically our Echinacea products.

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Read moreWhat is Cayenne Pepper

New York Times Brings Up Childhood Constipation Controversy

An interesting article was in the New York Times recently on the controversy of a popular drug for adults being used to treat chronic constipation in children. According to the article, doctors have pointed parents to Miralax for years to help children who suffer from chronic constipation. The problem is the label itself says the product is not recommended for kids under 17.

Read moreNew York Times Brings Up Childhood Constipation Controversy

Tea Tree Oil: A Must for Your Summer First Aid Kit

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Lobelia-The Intelligent Herb

Lobelia inflata (also known as Indian Tobacco) is a well-known traditional remedy to help

open and clear the lungs while relaxing the nervous system. Historically Lobelia is called the “intelligent herb” because it goes to the area of the body that most needs the affects it gives. Originally used by Eastern United States tribes like the Penobscot Indians, Lobelia developed a reputation as a powerful herbal remedy from the famous herbalist Samuel Thompson in the 19th century.

Read moreLobelia-The Intelligent Herb