Evolution · Health · Natural Medicine · Recipes

Bitter Better

To know light, we must know darkness. For many of us accepting this wisdom can be difficult. In most cases, we are programmed to push aside the shadow, focus on the “good” and get on with it. Of course, we want to feel good, we don’t want to experience pain, don’t want to suffer. Suffering, in my view, is an experience which comes from how we perceive and receive our pain. It is real and heavy, full. Can we process our pain, our grief, without suffering? Sometimes. It takes courage and openness, forgiveness of ourselves, too, in our process, acceptance of this process. Softness. We are so deep, with so much to muck through: past lives, cultures, families, faiths, programs, beliefs. With the “Lie of Shutting Down” our oldest, longest runner. And Change our true constant.

I do my best to take the “bad” with the “good”. It’s a process, always. When I was 17, my peers voted me “Class Pessimist”. Today, I am seen by most as a “happy” person. Back then, it was easier to harsh out and put things down. I liked my edge, my jaded snub, it felt more sure. I chose my armor young, and have been working decades now to drop it to my feet. Sure my “happiness” today is what appears at the surface, yet deep down, it is my integration of all that I feel as real, the bitter, and the sweet, that bolsters my shine.

Ha! I came here to talk about bitters. You know, those aromatic, citrus or floral distillations that are top dog in the new wave cocktail craze. Bitters. Dash. Dash.


Before cultivation, much of our leafy plant food contained bitter flavor. Over time, with industry, and a push to instant and pleasure, we shifted this. Bitter foods are no longer a component of our daily bread. Our traditional diets, their support of our whole, growth and healing, have been watered down, sugared up.

We have swung far and yet the pendulum begins it’s swings back.


Bitters serve us by stimulating our digestion and filtering/detoxing processes, particularly our liver. They are especially important for the digestion of rich, fatty and highly processed foods, a. k.a. the Standard American Diet (SAD).


Many years ago, I wanted to bring in daily bitters and so, I started drinking roasted chicory root brewed in the manner of coffee or tea. I soon added dandelion root, which I buy dried and raw and then toast in a cast iron skillet. I like the flavor. I drink it straight, with half and half, with coconut milk or coconut oil, with ghee, a bit of lemon zest, cinnamon, cocoa… Possibilities endless.


Now, I am beginning to prepare my own distillations. You can try it too. This recipe from Traditional Medicines Wellness Tea is a great place to start.

Citrus Spice Dandelion Bitters


1 cup white rum (or vodka) high end

4 tsp of fresh orange peel

2 tbs dried dandelion root and leaf (or 6 tbs fresh, chopped finely)

2 tsp fresh ginger

½ tsp cinnamon

6 cardamom pods

(star anise, clove…throw in a few peels of lime…)


12 oz Mason jar

amber dropper bottles (1 or 2 oz)

Yields approximately 6 oz.
Place all herbs into a mason jar, and fill to the top of the jar.

Label your jar with the name, plants used, alcohol used and alcohol strength. Include the date on the label.

Shake daily for two weeks, and then strain out the herbs with muslin or cheese cloth. Be sure to squeeze out any remaining liquid from the herbs.

You should have enough extract to fill about six one ounce or three two ounce dropper bottles.

These make super gifts!

Bitters are best taken 30 minutes prior to eating, one teaspoon, to allow our bodies time to respond. Let the juices flow…

That could mean a posh cocktail. Wink. Dash. Though, in my efforts to be clear, present and cleanse my body, I carry a 4 oz. flask of Swedish bitters in my bag, and down a swig every now and again.

Where ever, whatever, slow and holy, my friends.

Bitter. Sweet. True.