Herbs for Spring Renewal – Part 2

Herbs for Spring Renewal – Part 2


Bitter herbs stimulate the release of digestive secretions which promote the digestion of food and assimilation of nutrients. They also have an astringent effect on the mucosal lining of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, working to tighten and tone tissues. Bitters also increase digestive motility, reducing cramping, bloating, and digestive sluggishness. Bitter herbs work best when tasted, and many are well-suited to tinctures and teas. The flavor of bitters ranges from a mildly bitter taste to intensely bitter. Bitter herbs include angelica root, chamomile flower, gentian root, horehound aerial parts, and motherwort aerial parts.

Angelica Root (Angelica archangelica): Due to its bitter taste and contents, angelica root is used to stimulate appetite, improve digestion, soothe colic, and lessen intestinal gas. It has a bactericidal effect on the gastrointestinal tract and increases stomach acid production. Angelica is known for its expectorant properties and the root, stems, and seeds are used as an herbal remedy for bronchitis, asthma and other ailments of the respiratory system.

Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla): The plant’s healing properties come from its daisy-like flowers which contain volatile oils as well as flavonoids, and a compound called apigenin. Chamomile has been used for centuries in teas as a mild, relaxing sleep aid, treatment for fevers, colds, stomach ailments, and as an anti-inflammatory. As a salve, chamomile can be used for hemorrhoids and wounds. As a vapor, it can be used to alleviate cold symptoms or asthma, relieve restlessness, teething problems, and colic in children, and relieve allergies. It can also be used as a wash or compress for skin problems and inflammations.

Gentian Root (Gentiana lutea): A bitter herb used to treat liver damage, loss of appetite, diarrhea, gas, bloating, heartburn, nausea, migraines, sinus infections, menstrual pains, chronic fatigue, jaundice, gout, hepatitis, and candida. Gentian’s compounds ease inflammation and benefit the cardiovascular, respiratory, and digestive systems. These anti-inflammatory compounds modulate pain pathways in the brain to decrease discomfort. They also help reduce antibodies and autoimmune reactions that can lead to joint pain, fatigue, and weakness.

Horehound Aerial Parts (Marrubium vulgare): A wrinkly, silvery herb that tastes intensely bitter and has an oily texture. Horehound thins and moves mucus, and it’s a classic for wet coughs, making them more productive. It helps ease the symptoms of asthma, chest congestion, chronic bronchitis, and allergies, and has a significant role to play in respiratory health from clearing coughs to soothing and opening the lungs. Consider horehound for any respiratory issue with thick mucus congestion, including allergies and postnasal drip. It’s too bitter for tea but excels as a fresh plant tincture.

Motherwort Aerial Parts (Leonurus cardiaca): A bitter herb in the mint family used as a remedy for female reproductive disorders, to regulate menstrual periods, ease anxiety, and help with peri-menopausal symptoms including depression, disturbed sleep, and restlessness. As a heart tonic, motherwort is especially useful in cases of heart palpitations and high blood pressure. In addition to being a source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, motherwort contains leonurine, a compound that promotes the relaxation of blood vessel walls, and encourages uterine contractions.


When taken 15 minutes before a meal, herbal bitters promote healthy digestion. 

Ingredients: 2 tablespoons dandelion root, 2 tablespoons chamomile flower, 2 tablespoons orange peel, 1 tablespoon burdock root, and 1 cup vodka or brandy.

Directions:  Place herbs in a clean, dry, glass jar, and completely cover them with alcohol. Cover the jar with parchment paper and a lid, and label the jar with the herbs and alcohol used, as well as the start date and finish date. Place in a cool, dry location, and allow to macerate for 4 weeks. Strain the herbs using a cheesecloth. Place the liquid in glass dropper bottles and label.

Dose: 3-5 drops directly on the tongue.

~~ Ginger Winn


The content on this website, memphisherbsociety.org, is written by several contributors and is for educational and informational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice. The information should not be used to diagnose, treat or prevent any disease or health illness. Please consult with a qualified health care professional before acting on any information presented here. Any statements or claims about the possible health benefits conferred by any foods, supplements, essential oils, or lifestyle changes have not been evaluated by medical professionals or the Food & Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. The Memphis Herb Society will not accept responsibility for the actions or consequential results of any action taken by any reader.

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