Doctor Jarvis, who studied medicine in our hometown of Burlington, Vermont, was perhaps the epitome of the New England country doctor. He worked during the first half of the 1900s, helping countless patients, visiting homes of friends and neighbors, and relying on strategies that supported and nourished – the same tonic approach we favor today. But he is perhaps best known for popularizing the use of apple cider vinegar, recommending its use for a range of complaints. We may owe the recent popularity of switchel, fire cider, shrubs and other infused vinegars to the old country doctor. His popular remedy makes sense: New England is rich in apples, and every fall, pressed and fermented into cider, he had access to endless quantities of raw, natural vinegar. Ever practical, Dr. Jarvis realized that this abundant natural product (already popular with old-time Vermonters) could provide a range of health benefits.
Some of the classic uses for apple cider vinegar include improving digestion, especially the occasional bout of heartburn, and helping to keep healthy blood sugar levels stable. This seemed to us to provide a perfect match for the traditional European digestive bitters, another classic digestive and metabolic remedy. Furthermore, since apple cider vinegar’s fermentation process converts alcohol into acetic acid, steeping the right herbs and roots in vinegar provides a way to enjoy all the benefits of bitters in a preparation made without alcohol.
We wanted to rely on the time-honored bitter roots that serve as the foundation of our original formula, so we started with burdock and dandelion […]
Abundant food, merriment, drinking and celebration are upon us: the holidays. Enter the phase of the year where it is hard to say no to the daily treat left in the office break room, or the warm comforting smell of pie in the oven, the endless family feasts and time spent with loved ones. It is a time that we look forward to all year and however you celebrate, it is safe to say that feasting, eating, drinking and “desserting” are at an all-time high.
The holidays are known as the season of indulgence, and we should allow ourselves to partake in the merriment of eating together, because who wants to lose out on that?
Think about how much time goes into preparing a holiday meal–the chosen company, the aesthetic, the recipes and the traditions around them, the all too common feeling of overeating, and rightfully so! This time of year should be enjoyed and we should feel well doing it.
Great health is about balance. Body shaming and restricting food habits can dampen our mood and make the experiences less enjoyable, but there are ways to improve our health around the holidays, and thankfully they are easy habits that support these joyous traditions.
Among the best known herbal remedies used at this time of feasting are bitters. In our current food culture we have an overwhelming load of sugar, salt […]
Chamomile is a beloved aromatic herb perhaps most widely known for its ability to support a relaxed nervous system. While the benefits of chamomile extend well beyond helping maintain a mellow mood, the take home is generally always the same–it’s gently calming nature can be seen in all of the ways that this plant works to help maintain harmony in the body.
Along with being a classic nervous system ally, chamomile is commonly called upon to help maintain digestive and skin health, too. Its bitterness, which can range from slight to strong depending on its preparation, indicates the herb’s ability to promote various digestive secretions that tone and support digestion. This means that, when taken before food, your digestion is all primed and ready to properly breakdown and assimilate the nutrients from your food. Taken after meals, it can provide gentle relief from occasional heartburn and nausea. Chamomile’s aromatic attributes help soothe occasional gas and bloating so that you can enjoy your food even when it’s challenged your digestive system.
Chamomile is traditionally thought of as a cooling herb and one that supports a healthy inflammatory response when used topically. Like other bitter-tasting herbs, it also supports healthy liver function. The combination of these attributes makes it a trusted standby for helping maintain clear, healthy skin. Chamomile hydrosol, for example, works great as facial toner.
Most of us are familiar with the gut-brain relationship at this point. The brain and the digestive system are in constant communication via the vagus nerve and the state of one affects the state of the other. Occasional […]
All health begins in the gut. If you want to optimize your health, loving up your gut is the first step. Here are five ways to improve gut health:
1. Eat (or drink) bitter.
Did you know that we have over 25 different types of receptors that detect bitter? And they line not just our mouth, but our entire digestive tracts, including liver, pancreas, and gallbladder. What do bitters do that’s so important? The bigger question is, what don’t they do? Bitters boost gut health by stimulating stomach acid (boosting digestion of proteins), improving gastric motility (helping with gas, bloating, and constipation), and enhancing the release of bile that break down food and enhance absorption of fats and important nutrients like vitamins A and D. Bitters have a balancing effect on appetite, blood sugar, and insulin release (Black coffee with dessert, anyone?) The bitter receptors, which also line the sinuses and lungs, stimulate gut and respiratory immune systems to protect us. In other words, consuming bitter plants in food and drink are among the best things you can do for your gut– and whole body– health. Some people love consuming bitters– whether coffee, beer, dark chocolate, leafy greens, dandelion root tea, or many more. Others prefer to take a daily herbal tonic before each meal. For kids, a little goes a long way. Bitter is better!
2. Ferment your foods.
These days, most people have heard of the beneficial microbes that live in our guts. Many have even taken the occasional probiotic—“bacteria in a capsule”—to repopulate these organisms during or after antibiotics. The biodiversity of gut organisms demands more than one or two strains in probiotics. Eating fermented foods offers greater microbial biodiversity […]