If there is a natural medicine which everyone should have in their home pharmacy, Swedish Bitters deserves to be near the top of the list. A very reliable combination of herbs turned into a tonic, it can help in so many complaints. I have witnessed how it has cured my and others’ various ailments: influenza, burns, pain, cuts, allergic reactions, muscle aches, headaches, weak digestion, pimples, scars and rash.
The recipe for Swedish Bitters probably comes from India, and it can be traced back to the alchemist and herbalist Paracelsus in the Middle Ages, under the name Hiera picra composite or Medicine for Long Life, an elixir to harmonize all organ functions and to benefit the whole body.
In the 17th century, the Swedish doctors Claus Samst and Urban Hjärne rediscovered the original elixir formula from Paracelsus. Dr. Claus Samst created a manuscript listing 46 problems this herbal tonic could help relieve. In the 20th century, the well-known herbalist Maria Treben found this manuscript of healing herbs and she has made this recipe famous all over the world under the name Swedish Bitters.
Swedish Bitters is known to activate the digestive system as well as other organs in the body. It is also known as a blood purifier. Many diseases start in the digestive system and if the body cannot digest correctly it will get sick. Using the tonic helps stimulate a detox process.
Swedish Bitters contains mostly herbal ingredients, but also minerals such as red clay and silica. The herbs have anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, and they promote blood circulation. Other benefits are antiseptic, cooling and warming, rich in amino acids, vitamins, minerals, essential oils, enzymes, tannins and resins. The tonic also acts as an expectorant, wound-healer, anti-convulsant, laxative and analgesic.
Maria Treben tells in her book, Health Through God’s Pharmacy, how she was introduced to the Swedish Bitters: “It sounds almost like a fairy tale, but it is true. As a refugee from the German speaking area of Czechoslovakia, I became ill with typhoid fever in a camp in Bavaria, caused by contaminated meat and, through it, came jaundice and an obstruction in the intestines. I spent more than 6 months in hospital and when my husband got my mother, my mother-in-law, our child and myself to Austria, I was a young but sick woman. At night I was hit by terrible pain that shot through my body like a sword. In these moments I could neither sit nor stand, walk nor lie down; at the same time I vomited and had diarrhea. I was a helpless bundle of misery. These were after-pains of the typhoid fever which sometimes can go on for years, as the doctor said.”
“One day a woman brought me a small bottle containing a dark brown, strong-smelling liquid. She had heard of my illness and wanted to help. The Swedish Bitters had relieved her of a serious complaint. Accompanying it was a transcript of an old manuscript in which was explained, in 46 points, how these drops heal every illness. The recipe came from the writings of a well known Swedish physician. As stated, all members of his family had reached an unusually old age.”
“These drops according to point 43 heal plague boils and swellings even if already in the throat. I put the bottle in the medicine chest. I just did not believe that these modest drops could give me back my health, since the doctor could not even help me. Soon I changed my mind. As I sat in front of a large basket of ripe pears which needed to be used up straight away, I had another attack. As I had been told that these Swedish drops could be used externally as well, I did not hesitate for long and applied them as a compress on the abdomen, put a small plastic bag over the compress, and then my girdle, and continued my work. A wonderful warm feeling spread through my body. Suddenly, it felt as if with one movement of the hand, everything morbid in my body was pulled out. I assure you that with this single compress which I had on the whole day, all complaints of the preceding months disappeared, never to return.”
If you are one of the people with a flair for alchemy and natural remedies, you will enjoy Maria Treben’s inspiring book, Health through God’s Pharmacy. It’s absolutely wonderful, with accounts of how simple herbs cure people. She emanates a feeling of unselfish authenticity and kindness, so its very hard not to trust her. You can grow the herbs in your garden or find them in nature. It’s also possible to buy the complete set of ingredients online. The elixir is easy to make, just soak everything in vodka.
Over the years, I have collected live specimens of all the herbs she recommends in her book, and planted them in our garden, making it into a living pharmacy. That’s wealth.
As I have to mention when writing about herbs, please seek the advice of a licensed practitioner for any serious medical issue.
Photo of saffron thumbnail. Photo of saffron threads. Photo of aloe vera. Photo of Angelica plant
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