Bitters are herbal tinctures that originated in the apothecaries of old-world Europe. They are specific barks, roots, and herbs that have been infused in alcohol, and then used in dashes or drops to enhance flavor in drinks and food as well as for their health benefits.
Bitterness is one of the most intriguing flavors with a stimulating quality that some people might describe as nasty or harsh. The complex bitter flavors, however, do far more for our body and vitality than one might imagine. Before humans had the enzymes to break down certain plants, the bitter flavors of leaves and roots were Nature's signal to avoid the rest of a poisonous plant. Digestion was triggered in order to move the harmful plant through our bodies as quickly as possible. Hence, when consumed, bitter herbs naturally stimulate the production of saliva, gastric juices and bile to prime digestion and cleanse major organs and systems.
From the bitter herbal remedies used by the Ancient Egyptians to 16th century prescriptions of famous physician Paracelsus and beyond, bitter flavored foods have long been valued for a unique ability to cleanse the body and build vitality. Studies have confirmed that getting an adequate amount bitter flavor is important for digestive balance and linked with many related health benefits. Unfortunately, these rich flavored bitter plants have been lost to sweetened and salted snacks that make up the majority of our diet today.