Why Herbal Medicine Matters by rachael keener, november 24th, 2015

Herbal medicine isn’t quaint. Though, I do appreciate the ways that it highlights what is beautiful and to be treasured in this world. We all know that gratitude is good for our health in very quantifiable ways—to savor a cup of tea, to be awe inspired by the purple and orange crowning splendor of an Echinacea flower, to find comfort and relief in the simple home remedies of your grandmother and be filled with thanksgiving and connection. But, herbal medicine is way more than what feels good. It is what feels right. And, when I put on my critical thinking cap, it is what reason tells me is essential for these times.  

While I am, in many regards, an optimist, I also cannot turn my back on what is a broken healthcare system. Navigating health insurance can be incredibly burdensome and frustrating—it doesn’t exactly leave one’s health feeling supported. And the often hurried and half-hearted care we get in hospitals and doctors’ offices falls short of meeting our needs. As do many of the options or lack thereof that these experts present us with.   


Let me be very clear that there is an unmistakably important time and a place for modern technological medicine and for pharmaceutical drugs. I’ve seen them save and improve the lives of many I know. Too regularly, though, I have also seen them harm those I love and care about—even swallow some of them whole. And in these instances, we so desperately need an alternative. And we need an alternative that is accessible. We need an alternative that puts us […]

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Bitters vs. Digestive Enzymes by rachael keener, november 20, 2015

It is not uncommon for our digestive systems to need a little extra support.  Sometimes it’s an aching belly that signals to us that our digestive systems could use a little help.  Sometimes gas, bloating, loose stools or constipation alert us.  And sometimes, allergies and hypersensitivities are what tell us that our digestion may be lagging.  Many people turn to digestive enzyme supplements to support their digestive function, while others reach for a bottle of bitters.  So what is the difference between these two options?  Quite a lot, in fact!

Digestive enzymes are naturally produced and excreted by our body throughout our digestive tracts.  They help us break down our food so that we may absorb all of its nutrients.  Efficient food breakdown also prevents uncomfortable gas formation and large food particles from entering our blood stream and wreaking havoc.  Enzymes do many other things, in addition, like protect us from pathogens in our food.


Given the important role they play, it seems reasonable to consider supporting healthy enzyme levels.  Bitters support your body’s ability to do its own job by prompting it to release digestive enzymes. Digestive enzyme supplementation, however, side-steps that function entirely.  It skips our body’s healthy, natural process and instead arrives at the end of the chain with a temporary fix from the outside world.

These supplements usually contain just one or a few enzymes (isolated from plant, fungal or animal sources), which means it’s quite possible that they are not even the right fix for the job.  Studies also show […]

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How Bitters Help Nourish You (And Why You Want them Around During the Season of Indulgence) by rachael keener, november 6, 2015

If you’re motivated to eat well because you want to feel your best, then certainly you want to ensure your body is able to absorb all of the nutrient-packed food that you’re eating. At each step along the way, a healthy digestive tract is designed both mechanically and chemically so that your food is properly broken down. This ensures that its nutrients can be absorbed into the bloodstream and gleaned throughout your system to support a strong, healthy you. In essence, it helps you get the most out of your food.


So, how do we call on our bodies to do their best when it comes to digestive absorption? There are, in fact, many ways to support good nourishment beyond eating good food in the first place. Chewing well, eating slowly, sharing meals and thoughtful food combining all lend themselves to healthy digestion and absorption; and so do bitters! In fact, that’s where they shine. When the bitter taste receptors in the mouth are activated by a small splash of a bitters formula, it sets off a cascade of digestive secretions that prepare the body to breakdown and then absorb the food that follows.

Maple Bitters
Bitters stimulate everything from salivation (which is packed with enzymes) to stomach acid secretions that help breakdown protein, to pancreatic enzyme secretions that further break these proteins, as well as carbohydrates, down. They also prompt the liver and gallbladder to secrete bile, which breaks down fats and binds waste products. So, with a splash of bitters, not only is your body all set to do its […]

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