Can Bitters Make You Healthy?

Since childhood we remember that medicine tastes … bitter. Indeed many truly active compounds have a bold bitter flavor. Yet the health benefits are definitely worth the effort.

Health experts from Penn Medicine Center believe that bitter compounds in food contribute to our ability to fight off upper respiratory tract infections, while researchers from National Cancer institute admit that bitter taste may play role in cancer prevention.

But is there a way to biohack bitters, so that all healthy compounds are preserved? Medicinal food & superfood chef Lari from Four Sigma Foods says there’s a way to make your medicine work in an enjoyable way.

See what ingredients Lari is using in his medicinal drinks:

Chaga mushroom. More than 1600 scientific research studies on chaga have proven it to be one of nature’s most powerful cancer-fighting agents. The mushroom lives on birch trees in many regions of the Northern Hemisphere and includes 215 different phytonutrients with antioxidative, immunostimulatory, anticancer, and anti-inflammatory effects.

Reishi mushrooms. The number of academic works in Japan, China and the UK has documented the value of reishi in treating a wide variety of diseases, common ailments and conditions. Reishi may possess anti-tumor, immunomodulatory, and immunotherapeutic effects. Besides battling off cancer, reishi helps in treating cardiovascular disease. It has been shown to reduce blood pressure and blood sugar as well as cholesterol.

Licorice. Licorice soothes inflamed and irritated tissues. Its antiviral agents keep infections such as herpes and shingles away, and it has been proven to have anti-oxidative and antitumor activities. Licorice can also help relieve throat inflammation and strengthen the vocal cords.

Anise. Anise seeds are used as analgesic in migraine and also as carminative, aromatic, disinfectant, and diuretic in traditional medicine. Consumption of aniseed in lactating women increases milk and also reliefs their infants from gastrointestinal problems. Furthermore the findings of the Tehran University of Medical Sciences also revealed that aniseeds can cause gastric protection, muscle relaxant, and affect digestive system.

Cardamom. Cardamonin compounds found in cardamom spice are proven to carry antioxidant activity. Moreover, it appears to have anti-inflammatory, antineoplastic, vasorelaxant, hypoglycemic, and anti-infectious properties and the quest for potential health applications seems only to grow in the near future as shown clearly by the increasing number of publications.

Dong Quai. Dong quai (Angelica sinensis) root has been used for more than one thousand years as a spice, tonic, and medicine in China, Korea, and Japan. Major pharmacological effects of Danggui extract or its components include anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, immunomodulatory, anti-cardiovascular, neuroprotective, anti-oxidative, anti-hepatotoxic and renoprotective activities. In addition, some lab tests conducted at the Medical Center of the University of Maryland suggest that dong quai contains compounds that may help reduce pain, open blood vessels, and stimulate and relax the muscles of the uterus.

Gynostemma. Gynostemma pentaphyllum is one of the most significant Asian tonic herbs. It’s known to boost both the digestive tract and the respiratory system, helping the body and mind feel much better overall. This invigorating and adaptogenic plant delivers the number of health benefits by being anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and very calming.

All this ingredients add that extra medicinal properties in every dish or drink that you make.

Lari is offering the following epic recipe for an ultimate bitter drink:

Medicinal Mushroom bitters

  • 2l water
  • Handful of reishi
  • 1 tbsp chaga
  • Handful cordyceps militaris
  • Half handful dong quai
  • 1 piece tangerine Peel
  • 1 tsp anise seed
  • 1 tsp gynostemma
  • 1 tsp licorice root

Add all the ingredients in a pot. turn up the heat to boiling, then lower to 60 degrees celcius and let simmer for a few hours. Use a sieve to remove solids. Serve before, after and between food for best bitter effect.

Not so bitter offer:

If you want to get some of the medicinal mushrooms, Four Sigma Foods is offering a hefty 20 % discount with the code BIOHAKKERI at their store here. Just use the code during check out to get your discount.


FSF Handbook on Superfoods

Review of Pharmacological Properties and Chemical Constituents of Pimpinella anisum, Asie Shojaii, Research Institute for Islamic and Complementary Medicine, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, ISRN Pharm. 2012; 2012: 510795 

Bioactivities of major constituents isolated from Angelica sinensis (Danggui), Wen-Wan Chao and Bi-Fong Lin Department of Biochemical Science and Technology, College of Life Science, National Taiwan University, Chin Med. 2011; 6: 29.

An Overview on Cardamonin, Luís Moreira Gonçalves, Inês Maria Valente, and José António Rodrigues, Requimte, Departamento de Química e Bioquímica, Faculdade de Ciências, Universidade do Porto, Porto, Portugal, J Med Food. 2014 Jun 1; 17(6): 633–640


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