Over 200 years ago, Swedish physician Claus Samst was the first to blend a mixture of healing herbs that is now available under the name "Swedish Bitters". About 40 yrs ago, this elixir was rediscovered by Austrian herbalist Maria Treben, who used it to cure a variety of illnesses. The bitter elements of the mixture contain the healing power, and there are many combinations of herbs that can produce this effect. In addition to the main components, which include aloe, camphor, myrrh and rhubarb, Swedish bitters may also contain plants or minerals. Swedish bitters is not a wonder drug. Many of the therapeutic indications described by Dr.Samst, such as the ability of the bitters to cure cancer or heart disease, have no medical foundation. Still, the bitters can be quite helpful in the treatment of digestive complaints, anaemia, inflammation and wounds.
How to make Swedish bitters
Mix about ¼ lb of Swedish bitter herbs (card-back) with 2 ½ pints of 80-proof grain alcohol. Set the mixture aside for 14 days, making sure to shake it each day. When it is ready, filter the mixture through a fine sieve to remove any solid residue from the liquid, cover them tightly and store them in a cool place. The longer the elixir sits, the more potent it will be.
Swedish bitters is a blend of medicinal herbs that are generally not used individually. However, when the herbs are combined and mixed with alcohol, the resulting active ingredients that are released give the elixir therapeutic properties. Swedish bitters purifies the blood, promotes sleep, strengthens the nerves, speeds wound healing, stimulate circulation and soothe the digestive tract.
There is no standard blend of herbs that is used to make Swedish bitters. However, one typical combination consists of 1/3 ounce aloe ferox, 1/3 ounce angelica root, 1/6 ounce nyrrh, 1/3 ounce senna leaves, 1/3 ounce camphor, 1/3 ounce Venetian treacle, 1/3 ounce zedoary root, 1/6 ounce carline root, 1/3 ounce manna, 1/3 ounce rhubarb root and a pinch of saffron in a base of 60-proof grain alcohol.
Ready made preparations
You can make your own Swedish bitters, or you can purchase commercial elixirs in health-food and herbal stores. It also comes in supplement form.
Mix 1 tsp. of Swedish bitters with water or herbal tea to benefit from its blood-purifying and soothing properties and to treat skin problems, gastric bloating, gall bladder diseases and heartburn.
Swedish bitters can be used to alleviate inflammations of all kinds. Apply the mixture to the affected areas, such as pimples, wounds, bruises and contusions.
Take care : The aloe in Swedish bitters can act like a laxative. If this is a problem, look for bitters made without aloe. Also, pregnant women should avoid Swedish bitters because it can cause uterine contractions.
Used for bruises, skin problems and wounds, circulatory insufficiency, digestive complaints, sluggish digestion, insomnia, sprains and joint inflammation.
Methods of administration
Apply calendula ointment to the affected body parts. Soak a cotton ball in Swedish bitters. Secure it with a gauze bandage over the wound, and leave it on for a few hours.
For digestive complaints
To improve digestion or ease digestive problems such as stomach cramps or constipation, take 2 tsp. of Swedish bitters in the morning and evening before meals.
The germicidal properties of Swedish bitters fight infections of the tonsils. Gargle with a solution of warm water and 1 tsp. of Swedish bitters twice a day.
For sinus infections
Rub Swedish bitters onto your forehead and over the bridge of your nose several times a day. The essential oils in the combination of herbs help kill the bacteria causing the infection; they also thin the mucus clogging the sinuses to aid drainage.
Dab hemorrhoids with diluted Swedish bitters several times a day. Before bedtime, soak a cotton pad in a mixture of water and the elixir; secure it in place with plastic strip bandages. You can also take 1 tsp. of the herb blend at night.