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What are Chinese Bitters?


What are Chinese Bitters?

Chinese bitters are a combination of two traditional Chinese herbs:

1. Gentian Root, also known as Long Dan Cao (Dragon Gallbladder Herb)
2. Bupleurum Root, also known as Chai Hu (Hare's Ear Root)

These two herbs, in combination, are known to help circulate the Liver Qi (qi of the chest), and to clear heat and damp from the Liver and Gallbladder. Sometimes a third herb, Coptides (Huang Lian) is also added, extending the heat and damp clearing properties to the Heart and Stomach. Though these terms seem strange to most of us, this combination can have many potent medical applications.

Chinese Bitters are available in 4 different forms:

1. As whole herbs (which must be boiled for 30 minutes and strained).
2. As a tincture (liquid alcohol extraction).
3. As a powder (water extraction) that can be dissolved in water.
4. As capsules to avoid the extremely bitter taste of the herbs.

Water extractions, tablets or capsules are favored over alcohol extractions throughout Chinese medical practice. One of the reasons for this is that Alcohol creates Heat in the Liver. This is especially inappropriate for Chinese Bitters, which are used to cool the Liver.


What claims are made for Chinese Bitters?

Claims made for Chinese bitters include cures for:

  » Infertility
  » Menstrual cramping
  » Irregular cycles
  » Ovarian cysts
  » Uterine fibroids
  » Hot flashes
  » Arthritis
  » Weak digestion
  » Endometriosis


What are Chinese Bitters Good For?

In truth, this valuable formula can be of help only when these problems are caused by Liver Qi Stagnation, and Heat or Dampness in the Liver or Gallbladder. This condition underlies only a fraction of these complaints. Thus, the promise of success with Chinese bitters must be viewed cautiously.

For example, Chinese bitters are actively promoted as a cure for infertility. In fact, there are many causes of infertility; and only some are related to Liver Qi Stagnation. Infertility can be caused by Kidney Deficiency (low batteries), Blood Deficiency, Blood Stagnation, Damage to the Chong and Ren, Phlegm Obstruction, etc. For these other conditions, Chinese bitters have no effect.

The Safety of Chinese Bitters

The herbs used in Chinese Bitters, particularly long dan cao, have a cold nature and can cause digestive problems if taken in excess. Using long dan cao for more than one week at a time should be done only under the advice of a knowledgeable herbologist.

So be careful when you self-prescribe Chinese Bitters, or any other Chinese herb. Obtaining the maximum effects of these herbs depends on correct diagnosis according to the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine. To treat any serious or chronic problem, it's best to seek out professional help. Use this link (external) to find a practitioner near you.

If you can't find professional help near you, or if you've decided to try Chinese Bitters, we believe that ours is the best value by far.


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