Bitter Medicine

Some herbal bitters are deliciously or pleasantly bitter especially when combined in traditional mixtures that offset the bitter with sugar for sweetness. Most Italian amaro liquors typically consumed as aperitivo or digestivo before or after meals are in that category.


Fernet Branca is over-the-top for most peoples tastes.


Andrographis is a bitter herb that resembles in flavor Fernet Branca. If you have a respiratory problem you might want to try it.

Even modern pharmacology living in its new flat-earth bubble of unvalidated proxies, straw-men and no-true-Scotsman logical fallacies has come to recognize value in Andrographis:

“The anti-inflammatory effect of Andrographis paniculata(Burm. f.) Nees on pelvic inflammatory disease in rats through down-regulation of the NF-κB pathway

In this study, oral administration of APN showed significant anti-inflammatory activity in pathogen-induced PID rats, including suppressing the infiltration of neutrophils and lymphocytes and reducing excessive production of cytokines or chemokines. A potential mechanism of this effect was involved in inhibiting the activation of NF-κB pathway.”

What, you object to being compared to a female rat? Try this study then:

Dehydroandrographolide enhances innate immunity of intestinal tract through up-regulation the expression of hBD-2

…However, DA has not been found to significantly inhibit bacterial and viral growth directly. The current study investigates the effect of DA on the expression of human β –defensin-2 (hBD-2) in human intestinal epithelial cells and the possible signaling pathways.

In summary, we have demonstrated that exposure of intestinal epithelial cells to DA caused the activation of a signaling cascade involving p38 MAPK up-regulation expression of hBD-2 in intestinal epithelial cells. This is one main reason why DA could be used for intestinal infection.”

This study demonstrates that one constituent of Andrographis, DA, despite showing no direct antibacterial or antiviral effects does so indirectly via the gut associated lymph/immune system cells.

Defensins are a class of endogenous anti-microbial peptides, AMPs, active in animals and plants. Below is another example of AMP activity:

Antimicrobial peptides like human β-defensin-2 (HBD-2) play an important role in the innate immune system protecting the intestinal mucosa against bacterial invasion. The dietary histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors sulforaphane (SFN) and butyrate have received a great deal of attention because of their ability to simultaneously modulate multiple cellular targets involved in cellular protection.