Could these herbal tinctures be your new Advil?

It turns out that old-world herbal bitters and tonics work wonders as remedies for modern-day stressors, headaches, and more.
Urban Moonshine
Urban Moonshine comes in old-world flasks, droppers, and spray bottles that can be tossed into your tote or tucked into your top desk drawer at your stressful job.


Instead of popping an Advil (or something stronger) when headaches or deadline-induced freak-outs at your desk occur, many healthy types would rather reach for herbal remedies. We’ve noticed more companies are catering to this practice, like Urban Moonshine, which makes old-world remedies for modern stress-cases. So we looked into how it works.

Urban Moonshine grows herbs like dandelion and licorice root on its Burlington, Vermont, farm, then extracts their beneficial properties by steeping the herbs in alcohol to produce tonics and bitters.

These certified-organic blends can then be added to drinking water to ease ailments like anxiety, constipation, and exhaustion, says founder and formulator Jovial King, who wanted to make herbal remedies less intimidating for pill-poppers and skeptics. “We’re walking halfway down the herbal bridge,” she says. “You may not feel comfortable taking some crazy dandelion tincture, but I bet you’ll try some Maple Bitters.”

And organic bitters, “which you may know about from your bartender,” says author and nutrition expert Ashley Koff, RD, “actually belong in every kitchen and medicine cabinet. Bitters stimulate the different organs of the digestive tract to secrete each organ’s ‘power’ agent (HCL acid, enzymes, bile, hormones, etc.) to optimize digestion. They’re also also anti-inflammatory and contain antioxidants to further help the body handle the effects of stress.”

We asked King to explain how herbal-based bitters and tonics work as remedies for these three all-too-common little upsets:

1. Stress. Yes, you could get a prescription for Xanax, but King recommends trying her Joy Tonic first. “It supports a healthy level of tension in our nervous systems, allowing us to more effectively react and engage the inevitable stress of our demanding lifestyles,” King says of the motherwort, linden, and lemongrass blend. “It’s great for New Yorkers.”

2. Headaches. Headaches can often stem from over-stimulation. “Energy Tonic is designed to support our often depleted adrenal systems,” and may help build stamina and endurance. King credits this to the power of fo-ti root (a kidney cleanser in Chinese medicine) and rhodiola, a popular adaptogenic herb that helps the body manage stress and even brain fog.

3. Indigestion. “The root of good health is good digestion,” King says, and she calls on bitters, a classification of herbs that are bitter in taste, to help ease indigestion. Angelica, burdock, and yellow dock root, which are blended in Urban Moonshine bitters, “inspire the production of our own digestive juices and enzymes,” King explains. “They’re a whole plant alternative to digestive enzyme supplements.” —Amy Eley

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