Swedish Bitters: An Herbal Remedy for the Ages

Swedish Bitters: An Herbal Remedy for the Ages

If you are looking for a health remedy that has stood the test of time, look no further than Swedish Bitters— a traditional herbal tonic with countless health benefits. Swedish Bitters was popularized in the eighteenth century by Swedish physicians Dr. Klaus Samst and Dr. Urban Hjärne. Its origins, however, can be traced back to the middle ages where it appeared in pharmacies under a variety of names, including Species ad longam vitam, which means “medicine for a long life.”

In the sixteenth century, the Swiss German renaissance physician Paracelsus formulated his own version of the health remedy. His version included aloe, myrrh, and saffron and was called Elixir ad longam vitam. Paracelsus’s elixir was said to harmonize the function of the internal organs, improve bodily health, and prolong youth.

Over 200 years later, Dr. Samst uncovered a long forgotten family recipe for the bitters. Dr. Samst and his colleague Dr. Hjärne used the recipe to create a tonic which they named Swedish Bitters. Both doctors used the tonic to live long, healthy lives— especially Dr. Samst who lived to be 104 years old.

In the 1980s, Austrian author and herbalist Maria Treben introduced a new generation to the health benefits of Swedish Bitters through her book Health through God’s Pharmacy. In her book, Treben shared success stories from people who used Swedish Bitters to heal everything from arthritis to intestinal cancer. Even Treben herself experienced the benefits of Swedish Bitters firsthand. In her book, she recounts the story of how she used Swedish Bitters to heal herself from typhoid fever.

Although the formulation of Swedish Bitters has varied over the years, there are some characteristics that have remained the same. Some of the most important elements of Swedish Bitters are aloe and the eleven herbs that are found in nearly every formulation: angelica root, carline thistle root, camphor, manna, myrrh, rhubarb root, saffron, senna, theriac venetian, and zedoary root. Today, some formulations contain up to 22 herbs.

Often, the Swedish Bitter herbs are combined with alcohol to make an herbal tonic, although Swedish Bitters can be made alcohol-free. The bitters are also available in a dry herbal mixture that can be combined with water or tea to create a tincture or combined with vodka to create the full elixir. Swedish Bitters can also be used as a poultice and applied externally.

The list of ailments Swedish Bitters alleviates or cures is extensive. Swedish Bitters is best known for its digestive benefits, but it is also thought to help cure allergies, heal skin ailments, improve circulation, remove toxins, and promote healthy liver function. For those without any specific ailments, Swedish Bitters can be used to restore energy and youthful vigor.

Many have even claimed that Swedish Bitters helped them overcome serious diseases like cancer, deafness, head injuries, and debilitating arthritis. Claims like this may make Swedish Bitters sound too good to be true, but the only way to know for sure is to try it for yourself. After all, there must be a reason why it’s been around for over 500 years: it works!


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