Herbal bitters are my idea of the gateway botanical companions to get you taking your herbs every day. There’s nothing quite so easy and accessible to practically everyone than carrying around a little bottle of delicious herbal bitters and taking a few drops on the fly. Taking herbal bitters is one of those things that’s so simple, people are usually shocked that it’s as easy as it is to incorporate bitters into their lives everyday. And with a variety of health benefits, they’re one of the herbal tonics that is almost always included on my care plans for my nutrition and herbal clients, and have been for years.
Introduction to Herbal Bitters
I was introduced to herbal bitters ten years ago when I first started graduate school for herbal medicine. I had just started working in a small health food store at the time, and Jovial King came by one day to give us supplement stewards a training on her new company, Urban Moonshine. I remember she came in with her arms full of boxes and bags loaded with beautifully packaged tincture bottles, and a giant smile on her gloriously radiant face. She was honestly one of the most beautiful people I had ever seen in my life. I felt kind of star struck to be in her presence (even having no idea who she was at the time), listening to her talk about her bitters formulas, how bitters work all throughout the body, when and why we can take them, the long, long traditional historical use of bitters, and her process of setting up her Vermont-based bitters company. Back then, I was a brand new, know-nothing aspiring herbalist with a giant sponge for a brain. She opened a warm and welcoming little hobbit-door in my mind that flooded my psyche with the joy of bitters for the first time. Jovial was immediately someone I admired for her authentic spirit, her knowledge, her entrepreneurship, and her magical energy. Ten years later, she still is.
Learn More: All About Herbal Bitters
I’ve been using Urban Moonshine bitters ever since that day she first trained me on them, and I’ve followed the brand closely for the past ten years, using their products more and more as they came out with new formulas and products. They’re so accessible. So easy to take. So delicious! So effortless to incorporate into your routine every day. I use them all the time, and I’m historically the one who always has a little bottle of bitters with me everywhere I go and pass them around the table when I go out with friends. But my favorite ways to use bitters everyday are in those moments when it’s as natural as sipping tea, or reaching down to give my pup a scratch. It’s second nature at this point. Here are a few ways I use ’em and why:
How to Use Herbal Bitters
- Evening beverage | Most nights of the week, I enjoy an herbal bitter beverage before dinner. It stimulates my digestion before dinner and satisfies my craving for a sweet/astringent/bitter/flavored beverage around 6pm. If you crave sipping on something once you get home from work or after a long day, these little bitter infused beverages are a fun and delicious option. Routinely, enjoying something that actually supports and enhances your body’s normal detoxification process is a beautiful tonic way to support your body with an evening ritual that still tastes amazingly good. Bonus: bitters help to regulate appetite, so if you get cravings after dinner or late at night, try a squirt or two of bitters on your tongue instead, or sip in a bit of water for about 30 minutes.*
60 second Mocktail: I usually have a (fancy) glass with 6 ounces mineral or sparkling water, add 2-3 droppers of original bitters and a dash of either fresh lemon or a sprig of thyme and sip before dinner, and then again after.
Read More: Gentian Aperitif Cordial recipe
- Afternoon pick-me up | I love the citrus bitters formula, and it’s the one I’m often seen just squiring into my mouth with a lingering squinty face smile afterwards. I literally keep a bottle next to my computer while I’m working long hours and take little quarter teaspoons every now and then to just stimulate my tastebuds and keep my brain engaged. It’s a perfect little jolt of flavor. The ritual of taking small work breaks (with my little bottle of bitters by my side as a reminder) helps to realign my focus and get those creative juices flowing. The bitter flavor is classically used to stimulate flow in the body – digestive, liver function, gentle detox, bile production, and for me – taking the time to use bitters and incorporate them into my work breaks has been a wonderful addition.
Quick little pick-me-up: Squirt one dropperfull of citrus bitters right in your mouth, do a quick little swish and smack your lips together and get on back to work.
- Morning, first thing | Before anything else in the morning, I drink a big glass of water with some apple cider vinegar bitters. It gets things flowing in my body, invigorates my senses, and slowly invigorates my digestion for the day. Herbal bitters (in particular the original, citrus and maple bitters) support your natural digestive process by encouraging the body’s endogenous production of digestive juices, prepping the stomach to digest foods optimally. Digestive juices break down the macromolecules you consume (like carbohydrates, fats and proteins) into smaller pieces that are more easily digested and absorbed in the small and large intestines. Without digestive juices, the foods we’re eating won’t be broken down enough to absorb their nutrients. And bitters are a perfect way to support the digestive process.*
Early-to-Rise morning refresh | Have an 8 ounce glass of filtered water with 2 squirts of apple cider vinegar bitters. Sip for about 15 minutes within the first hour of waking.
- Travel companions | When I travel somewhere for more than a day, lots of things kind of get out of whack for me, especially my digestion. I take these little spray bottle bitters with me and use up to four times per day. They’re re-fillable too! My favorites are the Healthy Liver bitters and Original Bitters for not only digestive support, but normal liver detox support while traveling. Just the smallest little bitter taste on your tongue sends an instant message via the vagus nerve to your liver to get juices flowing. Also, when I’m traveling my skin can take a hard hit too. Herbalist have known for a long time that when the liver is under pressure, it shows up via the skin. While I’m taking the original bitters consistently, I notice the affect with clearer skin, especially when I’m traveling. Perk: they easily fit in a pocket.*
On-the-go bitters: Take any travel bitter of your choice while traveling to support digestion, normal liver detox, skin health and digestive juice production. For the Original Bitters, enjoy 1/4 teaspoon before or after meals up to six times daily for healthy skin and gentle detox. For the Healthy Liver Bitters, enjoy 1/2 teaspoon before or after meals up to four times per day to support normal detox and encourage the healthy production and release of bile.
- DIY Bitters Bar | Yes, one of my favorite things to create at parties I host is a DIY bitters bar for friends to help themselves in making whatever evening herbal potion they’d like. I’ll set out sliced citrus, sprigs of rosemary, thyme, and lavender buds, fancy glasses, mineral and sparkling waters, and the whole array of bitters: Maple, Citrus, Calm Tummy, Original, Apple Cider Vinegar, and Healthy Liver bitters. They all have have a distinct and delicious flavor that makes for a super fun and fancy party mocktail.
Everyone’s favorite | 6 ounces mineral water + 2 squirts maple bitters + 1 fresh lemon slice + lavender flowers
GIVEAWAY! (closed) To celebrate my new brand ambassadorship with Urban Moonshine, we’re offering a giveaway over on Instagram! We’ll be giving away a whole set of their herbal bitters (all 6 bitters in 2 oz bottles) AND a One-on-One Health Consultation with me, just for you. Hop on over to enter the giveaway here, and let us know how you’ll be enjoying bitters in your daily routine!
Giveaway ends on 3/7 at 12 pm EST. Winner will be chosen at random and contacted via direct message.
Terms: Must have a valid US mailing address (open to US participants only). Must be 18+ years to enter. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Instagram. Must be 18+ to enter and reside in the US. By entering this contest, you agree to a complete release of Instagram and sponsors from any liability. For complete Official Rules, please contact @urbanmoonshine by direct message.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.