(Last Updated on : 04/06/2013)
The air element
is predominant in foods with bitter taste and this reduces the excesses of the other elements. Bitter foods help to increase the intellect. These types of food are light, cold and dry. The characteristic taste of bitter food comes from the presence of alkaloids like caffeine, nicotine etc, bitter principles
like berberine and glycosides. There is dryness in bitter foods that help to relieve mucus, pus and watery accumulations. Bitter taste is very strong and generally overpowers the other types of tastes. These types of foods are slimming. As per Ayurvedic opinion, bitter foods reduce flesh, fat and marrow. In diabetic patients the bitter foods are much effective. Bitter foods absorb mucus. The minuteness of bitterness, which is characteristic of air and ether, enables the molecules of bitter taste to move through narrow channels and clear the way for better circulation.
Bitter taste is most common in herbals used in west. The herbs having bitter tastes are gentian, dandelion, aloe vera, goldenseal etc. Bitter tastes are used for treating the predominant conditions associated with the liver diseases. Bitter taste also contains purifying and detoxifying properties that aids in removing poison from blood as well as from milk of mothers. Bitter elements cure maturating wounds. They are thus helpful in skin disorders, especially in the case of fever, jaundice or loss of appetite. Bitter foods have germicidal, anti bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Bitter taste has a catabolic property, which can cause weakness. Bitter plants are poisonous and are well appreciated in pharmaceutical uses like foxglove that is used for making digitalis. Bitter herbs make very strong medicines, which should be used with care. There are many bitter herbal formulae that are sold in the market. The most common of them is Swedish Bitters. This is quite intense and but very well accepted. The Floradix formula can be used relatively safer way to regulate appetite and digestion.
Among the most widely used spices, the turmeric is probably most common and most beneficial internally and externally. Corriander is another bitter spice that is used in the curry, which helps to provide energetic balance as it is slightly cooling in comparison to other ingredients of curry, which are generally heating.
The average person can be benefited from the occasional use of bitters and also from its detoxifying effect that is most beneficial, especially in autumn and winter. Bitter taste tonifies the liver and also the gall bladder and bloodstream and thereby promotes the flow of bile. Thus, in this way the intestinal worms are killed. Bitter treatment should be applied annually but excessive use of bitter in the mouth makes it too dry and cause constipation in the person. Bitters are recommended when there is headache, dizziness, and loss of muscular strength or reduction of stamina.