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Swedish bitter: Herbal miracle for every home medicine cabinet



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You've probably heard of the "Swedish bitters" and its great health effect before. It is a tonic herbal mixture developed in Sweden as early as the 17th century by the physician and chemist Urban Hjärne and sold in pharmacies under the name "Elixir Amarum". Medicines made from bitter herbs, such as Swedish bitters, are often used as digestives. Their ingredients are useful for the intestinal tract and not only, as you will see from this article. In the rich composition of Swedish bitters lies more health benefits.

What is Swedish bitters?

Swedish bitterness is an herbal infusion made with a mixture of many herbs, roots, seeds and flowers. Typically, Swedish bitterness is used for medicinal purposes and can be consumed alone or mixed with other beverages. Although originally named by Swedish physicians, Dr. Klaus Samst in the 18th century, Austrian herbalist and author Maria Treben is considered to promote herbal tonic.

In Treben's bestseller, Health Through God's Pharmacy: Advice and Proof of Healings with Medicinal Herbs, she shares her personal experience with Swedish bitterness and its myriad applications. She is best known for using the little Swedish bitterness recipe that appears in the book. Swedish bitterness contains 11 different ingredients, including aloe (Aloe Vera), camphor, angelica root (Angelica sinensis.), saffron, senna leaves (Senna alexandrina), mildew, myrrh (Commiphora myrrha), rhubarb roots (Rheum rhabarbarum), zedoir roots, milk thistle roots (Onopordum acanthium) and theriac venetian (valerian root, cinnamon, cardamom). The traditional recipe for Great Swedish Bitters contains 22 ingredients, but the two different versions have almost the same effect.

Swedish bitterness for overall health

Swedish bitters is often called a natural detoxifier, which can help organs work in a synergistic way. While there is tons of anecdotal evidence for this purported miraculous tonic, we want to highlight two of the most popular, modern uses of Swedish bitters known to date.

Swedish bitters for digestion

Swedish bitters is primarily known for the effects it has on digestive health. A 2015 study published in the Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that bitterness both prevented and alleviated indigestion. Swedish bitters stimulates receptors in the mouth and throat, which are activated by bitter foods. This increases the production of saliva, gastric juice and bile, all of which contain digestive enzymes that help break down fats and other foods. Applied for this purpose, bitters often has a quick effect. 1

For example, if you have digestive problems, we recommend drinking one teaspoon of Swedish bitters three times a day in herbal tea or diluted with warm water due to its digestive properties. By the way, the same applies to stomach ailments or nausea. If stomach ailments are more like stomach cramps, we recommend a tablespoon of Swedish bitters rather than a teaspoon.

Swedish bitters as a helpful tool during the cold season

Cough, cold, nasal congestion and more symptoms can accompany us during the autumn-winter season. Swedish bitters can also support us for a stronger immunity, and this does not exclude the role of food.

With a severe cold, a simple inhalation with Swedish bitters can provide quick relief. Just drip a little bitter into boiling water and inhale the fumes.

Those who suffer from fever can try mixing a tablespoon of Swedish bitters with half a cup of chamomile tea. Half of the tea is drunk half an hour before and half an hour after each meal. You can do the same with a sore throat. However, you need to reduce the dose a little: in this case, one teaspoon is enough for half a cup of herbal tea.

Swedish bitters against headaches

We can also use the power of Swedish bitters for headaches. To try if it works, drip a little Swedish bitters on a cotton cloth and place it on the painful area. Ideally, you should let the towel act for a quarter of an hour in the supine position.

Swedish bitters to relieve oral problems

For unpleasant pains such as toothache, you can try standard painkillers or Swedish bitters. Maria Treben in her book recommends using a 1 tablespoon Swedish bitter mouthwash diluted in a glass of water or herbal tea to relieve toothache. Of course, this is a temporary solution and a visit to the dentist is advisable.

Swedish bitters for skin irritations

You can use bitters as more than just an internal remedy. This blend of herbs can help speed up the healing of rashes and insect bites or help soothe dry, irritated skin

There is evidence of the use of bitters to treat inflamed nails, torn corners of the mouth, lichen, eczema and more, but they are not scientifically proved. There aren't many published studies to explain why bitters may be good for the skin, although one study found an improvement in acne when applied to the skin. 2 Some people believe that the regenerative and detoxifying properties of Swedish bitters are responsible for its effects on the skin

Maria Treben's Old Swedish Bitter Recipe

One of the main functions of Swedish bitters is to promote the secretion of pancreatic and gastric juice and soothe the digestive tract. The drink stimulates the functions of the liver and promotes the secretion of bile by the liver, which serves to emulsify or break down dietary fats and clear cholesterol from the body. Having a healthy liver, in turn, will improve the overall digestion process and prevent bloating and flatulence

If you want to try to make homemade Swedish bitters that has a beneficial effect on digestion, try this recipe:

  • 10 g aloe root or gentian, wormwood powder
  • 5 g myrrh
  • 0.2 g saffron
  • 10 g senna leaves
  • 10 g camphor (natural camphor)
  • 10 g lemon root
  • 10 g mana
  • 10 g  Teriyak Venetian
  • 5 g ginger root
  • 10 g angelica root

Other health benefits of Swedish bitters

  • Promotes the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, K
  • Helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels
  • Balancing the appetite
  • Relieve constipation and regulate bowel movement
  • Maintaining liver function and healthy skin
  • Improves biliary, pancreatic and gastric secretion
  • Relieve bloating, flatulence, gas, cramps and nausea
  • Helps eliminate toxins
  • Tones and soothes the digestive tract
  • Acts mild laxative
  • Restores the natural acid balance in the stomach
  • Stimulates blood circulation

What are the side effects of Swedish bitters?

Some of the side effects of taking Swedish bitters that are important to know:

  • If you have liver or stomach disease, you should avoid alcohol.
  • Taking Swedish bitters before, during and after Candida treatment is possible, but do not take Swedish bitters for too long. Consult a doctor for precise guidelines.
  • Depletion of potassium levels may also be a possible side effect that can lead to high blood pressure. However, if the bitterness is taken in small amounts and for about 2 weeks at a time, this side effect can be avoided.
  • Swedish bitter can also cause dehydration (especially in children), uterine bleeding and miscarriage in pregnant women. It is not recommended for pregnant women, children under 12 years and ulcers.
  • Do not use Swedish bitters if you have abdominal pain, nausea or vomiting, or if you have diarrhoea.
  1. What is Swedish bitters?

    • Swedish bitterness for overall health
      • Swedish bitters for digestion
      • Swedish bitters as a helpful tool during the cold season
      • Swedish bitters against headaches
      • Swedish bitters to relieve oral problems
      • Swedish bitters for skin irritations

    • Maria Treben's Old Swedish Bitter Recipe

      • Other health benefits of Swedish bitters

        • What are the side effects of Swedish bitters?


        Swedish bitters contains angelica, rhubarb, myrrh, aloe, senna leaves, as well as other herbs providing its general strengthening and refreshing effects. Studies of the mixture of herbs used in Swedish bitters have shown that it stimulates the salivary glands, stomach, promotes the active action of gastric juices and digestive enzymes, increases peristalsis and cleanses the liver. Along with the benefits, there are some side effects that should also be considered and be careful with the consumption of this herbal tonic.

        The author

        Bettina Tzvetkova has a Bachelor's degree in Marketing and a Master's degree in Entrepreneurship, a fan of healthy eating, power sports and cycling. Author of over 1500 scientifically based articles, product texts and advertising materials on health topics for Bulgarian and foreign websites. 


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