DIY Equinox Bitters: A Spring Digestive Blend!

Burdock!

Burdock!

Happy equinox! As the flowers on the trees profess to tell us, this holiday is really the mid-point of the spring season rather than the very beginning. Because it sits between the polarities of cold inward winter and the hot active energy of summer, it’s also a time where we find balance.

The element associated with springtime is air. Air brings dynamic impetus and expansiveness to our lives. A great question to reflect upon right now is, how can we cultivate greater balance, forward motion or expansiveness in our lives?

At a potluck celebration for my First Ways apprentices, we talked about the equinox as the time planting new beginnings in our lives. We celebrated with a potluck and ceremony. We put our intentions of what we want to cultivate in our lives into Reiki-infused seeds and then we planted them together in apprentice Samira’s front yard. We also honored the air element with a lovely wood flute performance by Brandon Forrest Lapier, who brought us a magical Sasquatch story as well! Then we had a delicious feast. I made stinging nettle sauteed in coconut oil with spaghetti squash, garlic, onion, nutritional yeast and sea salt. Apprentice Sharon made stinging nettle saag! Apprentice Terri brought elk!!! Everybody made something delicious. And the brownies and cookies were amazing.

From the herbalist’s perspective, spring is a time for making bitters! Bitters are a tincture blend of bitter and aromatic herbs that stimulate the release of digestive fluids in the body, strengthen our ability to nourish ourselves, and help our organs assimilate nutrition from the food we eat. Bitters are one of the herbal remedies we can take when we are healthy and want to stay that way. Most herbal traditions, including Ayurveda and Tradition Chinese Medicine, consider digestion the cornerstone of a healthy body. Signs of problematic digestion are bloating, loose stools, and constipation. Bitters can help all of these things, and the liver, too.

Here’s a formula I recently made and like:

1 oz dried Dandelion leaf – bitter, detoxifying cooling herb for the liver, kidney and digestive system
1/2 oz dried Burdock root – bitter, detoxifying cooling herb for liver, blood & skin
1 oz dried Chamomile flower – aromatic, calming/soothing & carminative (gas-dispelling), cool
1/4 oz dried Orange peel – aromatic, warming, stimulates qi (life-force energy), enhances flavor
1 tsp Fresh grated ginger – aromatic, warming/stimulating, carminative, harmonizing

Directions: Combine herbs in a quart-sized glass mason jar, filling the jar 20 to 25% of the way, and then pour vodka (100 proof) or brandy and 1/4 cup of glycerine (as a sugar-free sweetener) as solvents to extract the medicine. Store in a dark, cool (but not cold) cabinet for 2 to 6 weeks, then strain and use the liquid, storing it in a dark glass bottle. This tincture will last indefinitely, for years.

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