Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Herbal Bitters for Hangovers and Over-Indulging

Longer days, later nights, over-eating, too much alcohol and increased socialising gives your immune and digestive system extra work to do.

With this in mind I created a blend of herbal bitters to help combat the effects of over-eating and hangovers. The bitters are great for any type of digestive issues and can be used as a general tonic. It is especially good if you feel that your body is in need of a detox.

The blend comprises of the following herbs:

Dandelion root 

Dandelion root is a great digestive tonic and is used for stimulation the bile. Bile regulates healthy functioning of the bowels. The dandelion is a a great source of vitamins A, B, C and D and the minerals iron, potassium and zinc. The root is generally richer in minerals than the leaf which is richer in vitamins.


Gentian is a common flavouring for bitter foods and drinks.
You may have tasted bitters on your travels abroad as they are common after dinner aperitifs. Gentian has a beautiful flower and is commonly used to stimulate digestive juices. There is an abundance of Blue Gentian to be found in the Burren in the West of Ireland, but do not pick it as it is protected! For medicines we use Yellow Gentian (Gentiana lutea).
Use caution if you have excess stomach acid (digestive upset relieved by antacids) although in my experience Bitters in a blend with other digestive herbs rarely causes problems. Introduce them very slowly and see how you get on.


Probably the best known of the herbs, ginger is a great herb for any type of sickness or nausea. It is also used to promote sweating and to get the circulation going. In my opinion it also tastes great. The parts of the ginger used for medicinal purposes are the rhizome
(root like system) and the root.

Milk Thistle

Milk thistle has enjoyed a great reputation as the herbal cure for hangovers and is used for chemical toxic liver damage, jaundice, and inflammatory liver disease. It improves liver enzyme function and this action is supported by research. For digestive issues it works well for loss of appetite, dyspepsia and gallbladder complaints, diabetes and diseases of the spleen. Like all herbs, milk thistle works better with the right blend of certain herbs for the specific ailment than alone. In particular I rarely use Milk Thistle without accompanying Dandelion Root.


Meadowsweet is a common wild flower in Ireland. It has a form of salicylates that are not damaging to the gut. In fact other constituents of the herb are soothing for the gut. It flowers between June and September and can be found on roadsides, damp meadows  and near streams. It has a beautiful perfume. It is a  helpful for indigestion and heartburn. It also promotes urine flow..


Everyone knows the taste of Peppermint from toothpaste or chewing gum. The leaves and the stems are used as medicines. Peppermint helps with belly cramps and wind. It is also a good herb for tension headaches and gallbladder complaints because of it's antispasmodic effects.
Peppermint is cooling because it disperses heat via sweating if you have a fever, this accounts for its widespread use in management of 'Flu (along with Yarrow and Elderflower.

Silver Birch

Both the leaves and the bark of the silver birch trees are used in herbal medicine. The main reason I chose the silver birch tree is because it is a great herb for aiding eliminatory processes.


I hope that you find this blog post helpful. Summer is a great time to see Ireland in full bloom and to have a go at foraging some of nature's natural medicines.

Why not start by picking a few of the dandelions in your garden and make a tea out of it?

For any futher information about using herbs for family health view our Open Access Introduction to Herbal Medicine course

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