Apple Cider Vinegar Bitters: New England Practicality, European Wisdom By Guido Masé, November 25, 2016

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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.

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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 […]

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Traditions and the Importance of Bitterness at our Table By Aisling Badger, November 20, 2016

Digestive Bitters and Bitter Foods

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 […]

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Detox and Metabolism: Supporting the Liver’s Crucial Role in Health by Guido Masé, September 15, 2016

Artichoke Leaf

The liver, a three-pound sponge full of blood that is lodged just around the lower right ribs, is our tireless defender. It daily throws itself in front of a barrage of chemistry, coming from inside our bodies, from our food, and from the world around us, and helps to process and safely eliminate it before it can harm our heart, blood vessels, joints, nerve tissue, and skin. But the liver is also a wise regulator of metabolism: it takes the carbohydrates, fats, and proteins we consume and coordinates their storage, converts them like currency one into the other as needed, and packages lipids and cholesterol for shipping to long-term storage in our adipose tissue. As such, it is exquisitely sensitive to insulin, and takes care of clearing sugars from the bloodstream after we eat. It also has the ability to create cholesterol from scratch, produces bile, and synthesizes a range of important molecules used to clot blood and ensure optimal immunity. Needless to say, we owe our lives – and much of our quality of life – to the liver.

For all these reasons, healthy liver function is one of the herbalist’s primary goals. We aim to support its defensive role by ensuring that the liver is producing antioxidants like glutathione at optimal levels. We pay attention to the liver’s insulin sensitivity, helping it react to this important hormone in a healthy, balanced way so that it can fulfill its role in blood sugar management. And when working to keep healthy cholesterol levels in their normal range, herbalists turn to liver support first.

There are many plants […]

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Chamomile: Our Favorite Uses and Recipes By Rachael Keener, August 4, 2016

Chamomile Patch

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 […]

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