How Digestive Bitters Work

Humor us for a moment and imagine—as vividly as you can—that you’re standing under the branches of a ripe lemon tree. You can smell the sweet lemon rinds as you reach up to pull it from the tree, the fine spray of citrus floating into the air and onto your hands as you squeeze it. With your pocket knife you slice into the lemon, the juice runs down the blade and onto your fingers. You shake your hand off and lick the juice from your fingers before cutting a wedge from the lemon to take a big, sour bite…

…Maybe while you were reading that you could feel a tingling sensation under your jaw on either side of your neck. These are your parotid glands, and they respond to stimuli — like smelling or tasting food, or even just thinking about food — to secrete saliva into your mouth. All mouth-watering desires are first sensed by your parotid glands. Who knew digestion was so sexy?! This is the very first domino to fall in the chain-reaction of digestion, and it’s an important one. Stimulus of the parotid glands sends the message down the chain to the rest of the digestive system to begin preparations, and it primes the mouth for eating. We’ve heard the old adage “you are what you eat,” but it’s more accurate to say that “you are what you digest.” If the first domino doesn’t fall you’re going to have a hard time keeping up momentum down the line, and in digestion this translates to poor nutrient absorption (and thus nutrient deficiencies), insufficient breakdown of foods which can irritate the gut lining and its micro-biome, and other digestive upset. Digestion is a North to South process, so optimizing each step starting from the top ensures you’re getting the best nutritional value from your diet and the best support for gut healing.


In our history as humans we would have handled and processed our own foods for much longer before they were ready to eat, and we would have often gone longer between meals making us much hungrier and more responsive to the sight and smell of food. Time spent foraging, processing animals and plants, skinning, cracking, grinding, cooking, all of these would have excited our parotid glands and given our digestive system time to heat up its internal fire. Today, we eat so frequently and so quickly that this first important step in digestion is forgotten, and it’s an easy step to take for granted. Surthrival Digestive bitters close that gap by directly and immediately stimulating the parotid glands to get digestion off the the best possible start.  


In centuries previous, bitters were used as medicinal tonics. The infused herbs themselves offered healing benefits, but often the healing reaction came from improved digestion which made nutrients already present in the diet more readily absorbed, so maladies stemming from nutrient deficiencies were resolved on their own. The same is true today. If you are spending money on organics, quality pastured meats, and dietary supplements, a small investment in digestive bitters taken before meals can drastically improve your absorption of micronutrients from your quality diet and pave the way to improved overall health.

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