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Nature's Remedies - Swedish Bitters

Updated on August 1, 2009

Swedish Bitters has a very long history. Said to have been concocted by Paracelsus and rediscovered some 200 years ago by the Swedish physicians, Claus Samst and Urban Hjärne, who blended a mixture of herbs that is now called “Swedish Bitters”. But it was only about forty years ago that the blend was popularized by an Austrian herbalist, Maria Treben.

It is the bitterness of the concoction that gives it its healing powers and there are a number of combinations that are available. The major ingredients that make up this blend include aloe, saffron, myrrh, senna leaves, angelica root, camphor, manna, zedvoary root, carline thistle theriac venezian, rhubarb root. There are other variations of the mixture and both alcoholic and nonalcoholic combinations can be obtained. The recipe may also contain minerals and plants.

Though many of its healing properties have not been scientifically substantiated , it is one of nature’s remedies.  The ingredients of the blend are not usually used individually but when they are mixed and combined with alcohol, the resulting mixture has some healing properties. The blend is known to help cure digestive complaints, inflammation, wounds and anemia. It also promotes sleep, purifies the blood, strengthens the nerves and stimulates blood circulation.

One typical combination of the herbs consists of:

-          10 grams (g.) of Aloe Ferox,

-          10 g. of Angelica root,

-          10 g. of Senna leaves,

-          5 g. of Myrrh,

-          10 g. of Camphor,

-          10 g. of Venetian Treacle,

-          5 g. of Zedoary Root,

-          10 g. of Manna,

-          5 g. of Carline thistle,

-          10 g. of Rhubarb Root and

-          a pinch of Saffron mixed with 80-proof grain alcohol.

The mix of the above should preferably be placed in a wide necked bottle ( 2 lt. capacity) and 38 to 40-proof grain alcohol or vodka poured over it(1,50 lts.). Fruit spirits may also be used. The bottle should be placed where there is good sunlight and shaken daily. This may be continued for two weeks. The resulting mixture is strained and the bottled in small bottles. Swedish Bitters can be preserved in this way for a long time and the longer it stands the more potent it is.

For internal use, a tsp. of Swedish Bitters mixed with herbal tea or water can be used for the treatment of skin problems, gallbladder diseases, gastric bloating and heartburn. These are the  results of its bold purifying properties.

Externally , Swedish Bitters can be used  to alleviate all kinds of inflammations. Application of the mixture on pimples, bruises, wounds, abrasions and contusions can give wonderful results.

Some specific methods of administration of the blend include:

For Wounds : First apply calendula ointment to the wound. Soak a ball of cotton in Swedish Bitters and secure it over the wound with a gauze bandage and leave it alone for a few hours.

For Digestive Problems : 2 tsp. of Swedish Bitters taken in the mornings and evenings before meals helps improve digestion or ease problems such as constipation or stomach cramps.

For Tonsillitis : Gargling with a solution of 1 tsp. of Swedish Bitters with warm water will fight infections of the tonsils.

For Sinus Infections : Rubbing this nature’s remedy on your forehead and over the bridge of the nose reduces sinus infections. The treatment may be repeated several times in a day. The essential oils that is in the herbs aid in the killing of the bacteria causing the infection and also unclogs the sinuses to aid drainage.

For Hemorrhoids : Dab the hemorrhoids several times with diluted  Swedish Bitters. Soak a pad of cotton in a mixture of the blend and water and hold it in place with strip bandages. A tsp. of the herbal blend taken at night might also help.

Though  this one of nature’s remedies is good for a number of ailments, care has to be taken in its preparation. Only Camphor in its pure form should be used. Instead of Aloe, Wormwood Powder or Genetian Root may be used for the preparation. Also the Aloe in the blend can act as a laxative and if this happens look for the Swedish Bitters without aloe. Pregnant women are cautioned against its use since it is known to cause uterine contractions.


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