A Bitter Pill

“A bitter pill to swallow” is a saying that must have had its origins in herbal medicine. Many herbal medicines are bitter, in fact, in the view of this grammatically flummoxed herbalist, the bitterer the betterer! Taste buds are bundles of nerve ending grouped on the surface of the tongue, awaiting various food chemicals to be dispersed in saliva, in order to become enlivened with taste sensations. Bitter taste buds connect to the Vagus nerve, a nerve that extensively travels the digestive system. When activated by bitter taste, this nerve stimulates and improves the functioning of all organs of digestion. New research shows that there are taste buds littered throughout the digestive tract, not just the tongue! this means bitter herbs in capsules will still exert their bitter benefits while by-passing the tongue. But it’s always better (sorry can’t resist the alliteration!) to include bitter foods in your diet, these include; olives, rocket, kale, watercress, grapefruit and coffee.