Friday, June 18, 2010

Make Your Own Swedish Bitters

We have been drinking 1/2 tsp of Digestive Bitters in our kombucha/water for the past 3 months. 

I had read about it in Nourishing Traditions/WAPF.  It's considered a SuperFood in the WAPF article.  It's one of the few supplements that Sally Fallon takes, which I found interesting.

Bitters provide minerals, aid in the digestion of animal products and fat.  It stimulates bile and I believe, hydrochloric acid, which are not produced in people with gut dysbiosis.  Both are essential for breaking down foods for proper assimilation into the body.  You can eat a nutrient dense meal, but get nothing from it (except calories for energy/heat-but even sugar provides that!), if your gut can not break the food down into it's individual components.  One major problem in most people today is the lack of hydrochloric acid and bile.

After reading GAPS, I came to realize just how important these are and became more obsessed convinced to try harder to get our gastric juices churning properly.  I've tried to start having us take a freshly squeezed lemon into water before breakfast. I prefer the bitters, lemons are sour!  But they are supposed to also get the hydrochloric acid and bile started in the stomach as well.  I can't say that I've seen any benefits at the moment, but I realize I'm in for a long-haul healing.  And rather then do the GAPS diet, I'm kind of still working my way to it.  So I will continue.

I also found out that good salt, bone broth and esp fermented veggies help the body to produce hydrochloric acid. 

I ordered the Wild Harvest Digestive Bitters from Azure Standards.  It wasn't cheap, and we went through it in a month!  Whole Foods sold it, so I ended up getting it from there for the last 2 months.  But it's $15 from WFM!  $15 for a month for 4 oz?  There had to be a better way! 

I found a site that sells dry herbs-a formula called Swedish Bitters, that sounds great.  So I finally bought the dry herb mixture and some Everclear 95% alcohol.  I called the company a few times to ask questions and the guy was incredibly kind and helpful.

From the website:

Swedish Bitters Recipe
10 gm. Aloe
5gm. Myrrh
0.2gm. Saffron
10 gm. Senna leaves
10 gm. Camphor
10 gm. Angelica roots
10 gm Zedvoary roots
10 gm. Manna
10 gm. Theriac venezian
5 gm. Carline Thistle roots
10 gm Rhubarb roots
This mixture is put into a wide-necked 2 liter bottle and 1 1/2 liter of 38% to 40% rye or fruit spirit are poured over it. The bottle is left standing in the sun or near the stove for 14 days and shaken daily. The liquid is then strained and poured into small bottles, well stoppered and stored in a cool place. This way it can be left in the bottle until needed. The longer it stands in the bottle, the more effective it becomes! Shake well before use! Alternatively some of the liquid can be strained into a small bottle and used as needed for many years.

So I did just that:

I gathered my things:
1 Bag of Swedish Bitters
1 half gallon Ball glass jar
1 Liter of Everclear alcohol-95%

1.  I opened the bag and poured the bitters into the Ball jar.  

2.  I measured and poured in 2 cups of Everclear and 3 cups of water (to get approximately 35% alcohol)

3.  I shook the jar, put an air-tight lid on and put it in a paper bag and placed it next to my stove. 

4.  For the next 14 days, we shook it at least once daily. 

5.  After 14 days, I strained enough out to fill up the old Bitters container and left the rest in the glass jar. I put it in an arid cupboard and will strain more out as I need it.  It lasts indefinitely.

 Every day for lunch, if possible, half an hour before, I pour 1/2 tsp into each of our glasses, and then I add either water or kombucha.  And we drink it.  This stuff has a very different flavor then the stuff I bought. It reminds me of cough syrup, I still haven't figured out which herb it is.  We don't like it, but it's very little and we chase it with some kombucha afterwards and the flavor is gone.  I find if we drink it half an hour before the meal (which is what it says to do), then we don't have such a hard time taking the fermented cod liver oil with our meal.  That definitely needs to be chased with drink AND food.  Whereas the bitters don't need the food to lose the aftertaste.  

According to this site, there are numerous uses for the bitters, including topical.  I look forward to using them for various ailments.  At this price, it's not a problem!  :) 

I paid $27 for my homemade bitters, and they give me approximately 40 ounces.  It ends up being approximately $3 for my 4oz of homemade Swedish bitters, as opposed to $15 for the same amount of store-bought stuff.  Woo hoo!!!!!

Between these bitters and my Master Tonic that I have on hand, I feel ready to handle anything that comes our way!!  :)


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  2. Thanks! I'm also transitioning to GAPS and needed a way to replace my $15.00/ mo bitters bill. Have you tried any other alcohols? I'm considering high proof Rum since its not a 'grain' alcohol.

  3. Funny, I was thinking of using a grain alcohol because rum is so high in cane sugar. Anyway, great article and photos. Am going to experiment and then add to my whole foods nutrition website at

  4. Any reason not to use just plain el cheapo vodka from the grocery store? I'm not familiar with the reasons to use one alcohol or another. I make my tinctures using vodka.

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  6. I just want to let you know that there are multiple recipes for Swedish Bitters. The original recipe was by Paraclesis and contains 22 ingredients. I found a better and cheaper source to purchase the herbs.
    I hope this helps... Good bless...