Bitter is Better: Featuring Urban Moonshine

They aren’t just for cocktails anymore. Bitters have been used all over the world for thousands of years. Through deep connection and ritual surrounding bitter plants, digestion is the cornerstone of health. “A healthy gut has always been one of traditional medicine’s top priorities and is the foundation for great digestion, glowing skin, and a strong, healthy immune system.” There are over 600 bitter chemical constituents (that have been discovered so far). We have bitter receptors everywhere in our body: our heart, lungs, stomach, pancreas, the list goes on.

The name implies that bitters taste very bitter. Grapefruit, arugula, endive, these are all bitter foods, but so are coffee and chocolate. Many people shun away from these foods, especially those who crave sweet foods often. Rightfully so, as we evolved to reach for the most calorie-dense foods and avoiding bitter foods that might be poisonous. “In the United States, the increasing consumption of sweetened products, a growing concern for medical authorities, has been linked to the rising incidence of ailments such as obesity and type II diabetes. The link between sweet and bitter taste receptors and the development of these diseases has become an area of growing scientific and medical interest over the last decade.”

Long before Urban Moonshine hit the shelves, Jovial King set up shop at a farmer’s market in Shelburne. She offered bitters not because she thought they would sell, but because she wanted people to have vibrant health. Jovial observed people in New York. People are always on the go, eating on the go. She wanted people to buy her bitters, but she needed to find a way to bridge the gap. People are not likely to be carrying a 2 oz. dropper bottle in their bag, so she created the convenient spray bottle. She combined a mysterious name to beautiful packaging, and several years later, Urban Moonshine has really taken off. In 2015, they sold over 11,000 bottles of bitters in two months.

Jovial’s vision is for people to empower themselves. Traditional medicine is powerful and effective. Instead of reaching for an antacid, tasting the dandelions that were harvested and bottled with care creates a connection with the earth.

“Bitters have been known to help reduce anxiety, relieve a variety of digestive complaints, balance blood sugar, reduce symptoms of cold or flu, and much more. Bitter tastes are cooling and drying. When the tongue detects bitterness it increases salivary secretions, which creates a cascade of digestive secretions from HCL to bile to pancreatic enzymes; thus, it promotes digestion.”

There are many types of bitters. Some can be taken daily to stimulate our digestion: saliva, bile, gastric enzymes, and peristalsis. These herbs include, but are not limited to: angelica, elecampane, gentian, and dandelion.

For more acute situations, some bitters help balance blood sugar: bitter melon, Oregon grape root, coffee, cacao

Relaxing nervines: California poppy, skullcap, passionflower, vervain. These help relieve us of our fight-or-flight response and bring us back to a parasympathetic state.

Relaxing diaphoretic: Elderflowers, bonset (for sweating)

Antipyretic: Willow, meadowsweet (for fevers)

Alteratives: Dandelion, turmeric, burdock, red clover (restore health)

Vermicidal: Wormword, black walnut (kills worms, very bitter)

Cathartic laxative: Senna, rhubarb, aloe (fresh), cascara sagrada. These should only be used occasionally.