Bitter herbs are those herbs which are bitter to taste. There are a number of reasons why an herb may taste bitter. Some herbs have a bitter volatile oil and some may have other constituents which add to the taste. There are also differing strengths of these herbs, so some are only slightly bitter while others are very strong.
Bitter tasting herbs have a number of benefits for the body, including the following:
- Stimulate the digestive juices helping the body to process food more efficiently.
- This will help to encourage appetite which can be useful for those who have been ill.
- Encourage the production of bile for breaking down fats and effective liver function.
- Encourage insulin secretion and alter blood sugar balance. Those suffering from diabetes may benefit from the use of bitter tasting herbs.
- Some herbs may help to lift the mood in some cases of depression.
- Herbs that are bitter may also help to repair the stomach lining and keep it in good health.
Most of these herbs are widely available and in use each day across the world for a number of ailments.
List of Bitter Herbs
- Chamomile is a popular herbal tea which is used to combat the effects of anxiety and insomnia. It also has natural anti-inflammatory properties so could be useful for those with digestive problems. It also has a gentle anti-microbial action. Chamomile is one of the milder herbs that are bitter.
- Dandelion is also commonly taken as a tea but is used as a diuretic and cleansing herb.
- Goldenseal is popular for the positive effect it has on the immune system. It is useful for fighting off colds, flu and disorders of the respiratory tract and reducing inflammation. It may also be used for its laxative effects on the digestive system.
- Yarrow can also help with respiratory disorders and is a natural diuretic. It can help to balance the menstrual cycle.
- Wormwood is an anti-inflammatory which is also useful for fighting infection. It can stimulate blood flow so may be beneficial for those having menstruation problems. Wormwood is one of the strongest of the bitter herbs and should only ever be used under medical supervision.
- Tansy is also a useful herbal remedy for the menstrual cycle.
- Centaury is similar to chamomile for its effects on the nerves and on anxiety. It can also have a laxative effect on the body.
- Horehound is a natural expectorant so can be useful for disorders of the respiratory system by helping to keep the airways clear of excess mucus. It can also be used as a general tonic.
This list of bitter herbs is by no means exhaustive and covers some of the more commonly used herbs.
As with all herbal remedies, it is wise to consult a medical professional prior to beginning any course of herbal treatment. Some of the stronger herbs may provoke a reaction if used incorrectly. Pregnant and nursing women should never use an herbal remedy without first seeing a doctor.