Track Your Cycle the Natural Way FREE GUIDE

Episode 44

Bitters and Hormonal Balance?

Herbal allies for your digestion, blood sugar,
inflammation + hormonal health 

hosted by clinical herbalist & integrative health educator Kay'aleya Hunnybee

Bitters and Hormonal Balance?

Herbal allies for your digestion, blood sugar,
inflammation + hormonal health 

Download on Apple | Download on Spotify | Download on Google Podcasts

Bitter herbs beyond digestion?

It's true. Almost everything we ever hear about bitters is about how they stimulate our appetite, encourage digestive juices to flow and enhance our bowel movement.

Like, literally, that's what most people say, on repeat, every time they talk about bitters. 

But there is SO MUCH MORE to these herbs and foods than just supporting our digestive function (though that's obviously important too). 

Did you know there are "bitter taste receptors" outside of the digestive tract?


Well there are. And they're everywhere... from your heart, your respiratory tract to your uterus.

This awareness as only been really coming to light in recent years, but it explains a lot about why some herbs may have affinity for some organ systems.

So in this episode I cover all of this and more, exploring the specific ways that bitters enhance our digestion and how many of those actually impact our hormonal health (for real!) as well as our emotional and mental health, too. 

Listen to this episode to learn:

  • what the bitter taste is and how it works in the body
  • what bitters actually do to enhance your digestion
  • why you may not have to taste bitters to achieve the medicinal effect you're seeking
  • some examples of my favorite bitters and which organ systems they have affinities for
  • what to consider when adding bitters into your protocol from a constitutional and energetic perspective
  • why I wouldn't want to be without bitters when working on hormonal health challenges





Ahmad, R., & Dalziel, JE. (2020). G protein-coupled receptors in taste physiology and pharmacology. Front Pharmacol. 11, 587664. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2020.587664

Chou, WL. (2021). Therapeutic potential of targeting intestinal bitter taste receptors in diabetes associated with dyslipidemia. Pharmacol Res. 170, 105693. doi: 10.1016/j.phrs.2021.10569

Clark, A., Liggett, S., & Munger, S. (2012). Extraoral bitter taste receptors as mediators of off-target drug effects. FASEB journal: official publication of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, 26(12), 4827–4831.

Kok, B., Galmozzi, A., Littlejohn, N., Albert, V., Godio, C., Kim, W., Kim, S., Bland, J., Grayson, N., Fang, M., Meyerhof, W., Siuzdak, G., Srinivasan, S., Behrens, M., & Saez, E. (2018). Intestinal bitter taste receptor activation alters hormone secretion and imparts metabolic benefits. Mol Metab., 16, 76-87. doi: 10.1016/j.molmet.2018.07.013

Xie, C., Wang, X., Young, R., Horowitz, M., Rayner, C., & Wu, T. (2018). Role of intestinal bitter sensing in enteroendocrine hormone secretion and metabolic control. Front Endocrinol. 9, 576. doi: 10.3389/fendo.2018.00576

Zhao, A., Jeffery, E., & Miller, M. (2022). Is bitterness only a taste? The expanding area of health benefits of brassica vegetables and potential for bitter taste receptors to support health benefits. Nutrients, 14(7), 1434. doi: 10.3390/nu14071434

Zheng, K., Lu, P., Delpapa, E., Bellve, K., Deng, R., Condon, J. C., Fogarty, K., Lifshitz, L. M., Simas, T. A. M., Shi, F., & ZhuGe, R. (2017). Bitter taste receptors as targets for tocolytics in preterm labor therapy. FASEB journal: official publication of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, 31(9), 4037–4052.



DISCLAIMER: This podcast is for educational purposes only, I am not providing any medical advice, I am not a medical practitioner, I’m an herbalist and in the US, there is no path to licensure for herbalists, so my role is as an herbal educator. Please do your own research and consult your healthcare provider for any personal health concerns.


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