The Bitter Truth

An herbal apothecary for healthy digestion and detox

Jovial King founded Urban Moonshine, a USDA-certified organic herbal apothecary brand, in her kitchen, with a passion for herbal medicine and a fortuitous sense of timing.

With the popularity of herbal medicine steadily on the rise, Urban Moonshine is now a national brand. Its apothecary-style elixirs and botanical remedies are based on bitters, botanicals that have been extracted and used medicinally since the Middle Ages. “We’re going back to our roots,” says King. “Doctors really don’t excel at health and wellness, and people are getting more interested in herbal medicine.”

King was raised off the grid in northern Vermont, and spent an idyllic childhood roaming the woods and learning about plants, herbs and flowers. As an adult, she studied with herbalists and eventually became one herself. King started Urban Moonshine based on the age-old belief that bitter, a forgotten flavor, is critical to good health, and that bitter plants like dandelion, burdock root, gentian root, artichoke leaf extract, ginger, fennel and more, help support the liver and pave the way for healthy digestion. “Bitters are a blend of herbs that are bitter in flavor,” says King. “They’re formulated to enhance digestive function.”

Urban Moonshine features six digestive formulas, in spray or dropper formulations, including Healthy Liver Bitters, with artichoke leaf and raw honey, which focuses on detox and elimination; and Cider Vinegar Bitters, with apple cider vinegar and ginger, dandelion and gentian roots, to relieve heartburn, bloating and upset stomach. This summer the company is launching Healthy Skin Bitters which, according to King, is formulated to “detox the skin through the liver.” The brand also features other herbal tonics, including immune-boosters, adrenal support and more.

According to King, the bitters formulations should be taken around mealtimes, to stimulate bile production, enzymatic secretions and other important digestive juices. “It’s really about the flavor of bitterness, that’s what triggers the body to respond,” she says. “Our modern food doesn’t always turn on the proper digestion. And the digestive system is the root of good health.”

In their recent book, DIY Bitters: Reviving the Forgotten Flavor, by King and Urban Moonshine Chief Herbalist Guido Mase, the authors have created a guide for herbalists, bartenders, cocktail lovers or anyone who wants to craft their own bitters, learn how to mix them with cocktails, kick them back as an aperitif or digestif, or experience them straight up as a preventive or a cure for indigestion. urbanmoonshine.com


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Rona Berg

Rona Berg

Editor-In-Chief at Organic Spa Magazine
Editor-in-chief of Organic Spa Media, longtime journalist and best-selling author of Beauty: The New Basics and Fast Beauty: 1000 Quick Fixes (Workman Publishing), Rona Berg is the former Editorial Director of ELLE and Deputy Style Editor for the New York Times Magazine. She has been cited as an industry expert by Huffington Post, Fox News and New York Magazine and contributed to and been quoted in dozens of publications. Berg co-chairs the Personal Care Committee of the non-profit Green Spa Network, is a Charter Advisory Board Member of the Nutritional Aesthetics Alliance, and is a frequent speaker at conferences around the globe.
Rona Berg

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