Tap to Read ➤

Swedish Bitters

Swedish Bitters is a 500-year-old European herbal remedy. It claims to rejuvenate the organs and cure a number of ailments. In this story, we learn more about this wonder remedy, its benefits, and side effects.
Batul Nafisa Baxamusa
"At a time when majority of mankind has moved away from life's natural ways, when illness, caused by a changed attitude to life - threatens, we should turn again to medicinal herbs which God in His Greatness has provided for us since time immemorial."
--Maria Treben, Austrian herbalist
This quote by one of the notable proponents of Swedish Bitters, best describes the beneficial effects of this herbal tonic. Swedish bitters is a conventional eleven-herb formula that is known to be a miraculous cure for a number of health problems.
Although its existence in some form or other could be traced back to the Middle Ages, it was only in the sixteenth century that Phillipus Paracelsus, a Swiss physician first formulated the herbal tonic and mentioned it in his book, Elixir ad longam vitam (Elixir for Long Life).
The original tonic contained ingredients like aloe, myrrh, and saffron. Later, in the eighteenth century, Dr. Samst, rediscovered the formula and also compiled a manuscript that listed out forty three benefits of this wonder tonic. He is also credited for naming this tonic as Swedish Bitters.
The person credited with the modern discovery of this 'Life Elixir' is the Austrian herbalist, Maria Treben. Inspired by her own recovery from a bad case of typhoid fever, Maria Treben went on to document the benefits and success of Swedish Bitters in her book 'Health Through God's Pharmacy'.

Constituents of Swedish Bitters

Swedish Bitters is available in dry mix, liquid, topical creams, and even as soaps. In liquid form, it is a dark brown in color. The major constituents of this long-life elixir (a 90gm pack) is as follows:
  • 10 gm Aloe
  • 5 gm Myrrh
  • 0.2 gm Saffron
  • 10 gm Senna leaves
  • 10 gm Camphor
  • 10 gm Angelica roots
  • 10 gm Zedoary roots
  • 10 gm Manna
  • 10 gm Theriac venezian
  • 5 gm Carline Thistle roots
  • 10 gm Rhubarb roots
Aloe used in Swedish Bitters is known to be a good laxative when consumed internally, and good for burns, minor wounds, and insect bites when used externally. Myrrh helps in fighting off infections like upper respiratory tract infections and problems of the digestive system.
Angelica root, also known as Masterwort, stimulates the gastric juices, relieves digestive problems, and helps in curing respiratory ailments. Carline thistle root contains bacteriostatic properties and is a mild diuretic. Saffron, which is an extremely expensive ingredient, is used as a sedative and appetite stimulant.
Rhubarb root, Senna Leaf, Manna, and Zedoary are used to keep the digestive system healthy. Camphor can relax agitated nerves and increase blood circulation. The masterly way in which the ingredients are combined is the reason behind its numerous benefits.

Benefits of Swedish Bitters

When Taken Internally

Blood Purifier
Swedish Bitters help in purification of the blood and removal of toxins including metabolic wastes. The bitter components of the remedy help in cleansing the blood passing through the liver and pushes out the toxins.
Improves Digestion and Liver Function
The formula of Swedish Bitters stimulate the bile production in the liver, which in turns aids in improved digestion and absorption of fats. It activates the secretion of gastric enzymes and hydrochloric acid which help in digestion.
Moreover, it stimulates peristalsis, which refer to the contractions that pushes food down the digestive tract. It is, thus, beneficial for people with weak digestive systems, poor appetite, anemia and chronic illness.
Soothes Digestive Tract
When taken internally, Swedish Bitters soothe the digestive system especially when plagued with problems like bloated stomach, feeling of fullness, acidity, cramps, and gas. It is also a gentle laxative that helps in treating constipation.
Cures Menstrual Disorders
Swedish Bitters cure menstrual disorders and regulate the menstrual cycles. The tonic when taken internally is also believed to help with female reproductive problems.
Diabetes that is caused by a spike in the blood sugar levels can be controlled by using this miraculous cure. This is done by regulating the production of insulin in the pancreas.
Other than this, Swedish Bitters keep off high cholesterol and heart problems, cure fever, nausea, throat infections, and headaches. It also strengthens the immune system and keeps it functioning properly.
Side Effects
While there are numerous benefits associated with this tonic, it is also important to keep in mind that Swedish Bitters contain laxatives. Hence, it is not recommended for people who have diarrhea. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding or people with problem of intestinal obstruction should avoid taking this herbal remedy.
Moreover, some of the ingredients may have side effects when taken in very high doses. Ingredients like aloe can cause kidney or bladder damage while angelica is known to be associated with photosensitivity and depression of the central nervous system.

When Used Externally

When applied externally using a cold compress, Swedish bitters can be used for curing:
  • Insect bites
  • Wounds
  • Persistent scars
  • Burns
  • Sprains and strains
  • Infected tonsils
  • Infections for middle ear
  • Relief from rheumatic pain
  • Helps in crusting of chickenpox blisters

How to Use Swedish Bitters

For Internal Consumption

According to the Old Manuscript which is a transcript of the curative powers of Swedish Bitters, the remedy can be consumed internally in the following quantity.
"1 teaspoonful diluted with water. For indisposition of any kind, 3 tablespoons diluted with water can be taken. For serious diseases, 2 to 3 tablespoons are taken as follows: 1 tablespoon diluted with half a cup of a specific herbal tea, half of it is sipped half an hour before and the other half an hour after each meal." (Extract from 'Old Manuscript')
If you can make the bitters at home, pour the dry herb mixture in a large glass jar. Mix two cups of fruit spirit or rye with three cups of water and pour it over the mixture. Shake the jar to mix all the contents together and put an air-tight lid on it.
Place it in the sun for fourteen days, and shake the bottle daily to mix the contents. Strain out the liquid and pour it in small bottles. Before using shake the bottle. Dilute one tablespoon of Swedish Bitter with water before drinking it.

To Be Used as Compresses

Swedish Bitters compresses can be used for healing of wounds, injuries, arthritic pain, and even infected tonsils. They stimulate the blood circulation and relax the constricted blood vessels.
Before you make a compress with Swedish Bitter, you would first need to protect the skin with a thick, fatty ointment like calendula. This is because Swedish Bitters contain alcohol that can dry and damage the skin when applied topically for a long period of time.
Moisten a piece of clean, absorbent cotton cloth with the elixir and place it over the injured area. Wrap a scarf around the cloth to keep it in place. Leave it on for at least half an hour for small injuries and burns and for a longer duration in case of major problems.
Note: The Swedish Bitters when used as compress can stain bed covers and clothes.

Precautions When Taking Swedish Bitters

  • Due to the high concentration of alcohol in Swedish Bitters, it is advisable to dilute it in water or tea before drinking it.
  • Pregnant women, people with diarrhea and intestinal obstruction should avoid consuming this herbal tonic without consulting the doctor.
  • Due to the high concentration of alcohol in it, Swedish Bitters can dry out and irritate the skin when used externally.
Despite the amazing benefits of Swedish Bitters, it does have a number of side effects like indigestion, cramps, rashes and allergy. Like all herbal medications, Swedish Bitters are considered to be safe. However, it is also important to note that there are no clinical trials documenting the safety of the herbal remedy. It is best to consult a doctor before starting any such supplements.