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Dr Briana Lutz ND RH

Dr. Briana Lutz, ND, RH

Naturopathic Doctor & Registered Herbalist

Heartburn, indigestion, constipation, and bloating are common symptoms of sluggish digestion — and there’s a simple, natural remedy available.


Digestion is a cascade of physiological events that starts before you even put food in your mouth. That anticipatory “mouth watering” effect is your digestive system in action.

Digestive prompting can also come from something today’s diets often lack: bitter flavours. These stimulate the vagus nerve in the roof of the mouth, triggering the release of the hormone gastrin. This signals the release of saliva, gastric juices, enzymes, and bile — crucial elements of healthy digestion.

Bitters also help the nervous system to shift into “rest and repair” mode (rather than “fight or flight”), optimizing digestion.

Turning to a traditional, proven herbal remedy

Bitters — traditional herbs with bitter compounds — can relieve uncomfortable digestive symptoms like stomach upset, gas, bloating, and heartburn. They can also optimize the nutrient absorption that’s essential to maintaining many bodily systems, including a strong immune system.

“Not only do bitters stimulate the vagus nerve, they also bind to bitter receptors throughout the entire digestive tract,” explains Dr. Briana Lutz, a naturopathic doctor in Edmonton, AB. “Activating these bitter receptors has been shown to regulate blood sugar, which can reduce energy crashes or sugar cravings.”

St. Francis Herb Farm’s Canadian Bitters contain a spectrum of traditional bitter herbs including globe artichoke, dandelion, and gentian root that can be taken daily to help support and strengthen organs of digestion. Its traditional formula also contains cardamom and chamomile, which are carminative herbs — herbs that help calm the digestive tract and alleviate gas and bloating. Bitters are, well… bitter, but that’s how they work! For a somewhat more palatable version, try Canadian Bitters Maple, which includes a touch of maple syrup.

Unlike formulas that can create a dependence or irritate tissues, St. Francis Herb Farm’s bitters are made with natural, non-habit-forming formulas. Their actions also help retrain the body’s digestive system, encouraging it to function more efficiently instead of merely providing a temporary solution.

The Benefits of Bitters infographic

Herbs can have numerous benefits. What we’re showing here are what they’re best or often used for regarding these various health needs to help bring some clarity. Ultimately, it’s a great idea to visit a naturopathic doctor who specializes in botanical medicine to understand what’s right for you.

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