Aperitif time - How Traditional Chinese Medicine views aperitifs and herbal bitters

Aperitif time or enjoying the bitters...Here is a bit about the medicinal properties of herbal bitters and how Traditional Chinese Medicine views aperitifs.

A bitter taste is one of the fundamental diagnostic and therapeutic principles in Chinese medical practice. Upon taking in bitter aperitifs or herbal concoctions saliva production increases, pepsin and hydrochloric acid in the stomach are produced, the pancreas, liver, and gallbladder are stimulated to secrete their juices.

The majority of traditional European bitters are herbal plants, roots, leaves, and stems preserved in alcohol. This method of preservation evolved over the centuries and we have much to be thankful for perfecting these secret herbal formulas to the good women and men of medieval monasteries and cloisters.

Preparation of herbal bitters goes one step further in TCM. In Traditional Chinese Medicine bitter herbs such as the Gentian root (Long Dan Cao) or Bupleurum root (Chai Hu) are frequently used to help circulate the Liver Qi and to clear Heat and Damp from the Liver and Gallbladder. However, in Chinese medical practice water extractions, tablets or capsules are favoured over alcohol extractions. One of the reasons for this is that alcohol creates Heat in the Liver. As most Chinese herbal bitters are prescribed to cool the Liver therefore the alcohol component is deemed to be unhelpful.

So here is the great news! A good bitter concoction gets all the digestive juices flowing so you can assimilate all nutrients better and prevent post-postprandial blood sugar spikes. The digestion of macro-nutrients is increased with the intake of bitters before a meal along with the better breakdown and absorption of minerals...

Cheers! Slainte! Prost! Salut! Nostrovie! Na Zdravie!

Pavlina Fialova