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Bittersweet – sources, health benefits, nutrients, uses and constituents at

Tuesday, August 29, 2017 by

Bittersweet is a vine-like, woody plant that is commonly found across the U.S., Canada and parts of Europe and Asia. The plant belongs to the Solanaceae family, which houses the poisonous nightshade and the valuable crops tomato and potato. According to an entry on the Botanical website, bittersweet is a perennial shrub that has a woody base and slender, straggly branches. The leaves are characterized by their ornate wing-like segments. Bittersweet berries are initially green but turn bright red when ripe. The plant comes in many names including blue nightshade, deadly nightshade, fellonwood and fever twig.

List of known nutrients

Bittersweet is commonly regarded as poisonous due to its plant family. However, the medicinal parts of the plant contain important components that help prevent a host of diseases. A Herbpathy entry lists the constituents found in bittersweet, which include:

  • Alkaloids
  • Dulcamarine
  • Glucosides
  • Saponins
  • Solanine
  • Steroids
  • Tannins

Medicinal uses for bittersweet

Bittersweet is primarily used as a remedy for various skin diseases. Consuming bittersweet extracts may help alleviate long-term eczema, persistent itching, psoriasis and warts as well as boils and broken skin. Decoctions made from bittersweet twigs may also be applied topically onto the skin to ease symptoms and relieve the severity of skin disorders.

The herb is also traditionally combined with other medicinal herbs such as yellow dock herb root and guaiacum to treat cutaneous diseases including leprosy, tetter, and porrigo.

The plant is touted for its beneficial effects to the respiratory tract as well. According to a Tip Disease article, bittersweet can be used to relieve asthma. Likewise, bittersweet is valued for its detoxifying and expectorant properties that help address chronic bronchitis.

The medicinal herb may bolster the body’s immunity too. The potent components of bittersweet are touted to fend off disorders associated with cold exposure such as chest pain, dyspnea, and cough. The herb is also commonly used as a remedy to both catarrhal headache and nasal catarrh caused by acute colds.

People with joint problems may greatly benefit from taking bittersweet extracts. The herb contains anti-inflammatory properties that soothe symptoms of rheumatism and gout. The herb is known to bolster the body’s digestive profile as well. Bittersweet is shown to alleviate ulcers, jaundice, and catarrhal diarrhea. An article posted on the China About website noted that bittersweet stems are commonly taken with wine to address liver and gallbladder disorders.

Bittersweet is also used to help promote women’s health. The herb is found to relieve vaginal obstruction and suppressed menstrual flow. The plant is also known to alleviate symptoms that accompany these conditions such as persistent headache, nausea, and chilly sensations.

Furthermore, a decoction containing bittersweet extracts are shown to address blurred vision. Likewise, taking the same decoction may mitigate sore throat during its early stages. The herb is also found to contain anti-tumor properties that help address cancer of the esophagus.

Body systems supported by bittersweet

Bittersweet is best known for its efficacy in treating various diseases of the skin. The herb is shown to benefit the respiratory tract and boost the body’s overall immunity against infections. The plant is also known to alleviate conditions of the bone and joints. Aside from this, bittersweet also helps bolster the body’s digestive profile and improve women’s health. The herb is found to enhance both eye and oral health as well.

Ways to use bittersweet

The plant’s stem is commonly used as medicine. Traditional herbalists have long used extracts taken from bittersweet stem as a sedative and diuretic agent. Likewise, the herb’s shoots and young leaves are used to make tinctures and decoctions.

Where to learn more


Bittersweet address esophageal cancer, leprosy, and other skin diseases.

Bittersweet effectively relieves respiratory disorders and staves off infections.

Bittersweet alleviates rheumatism, and gout, liver and gallbladder disorders.

Bittersweet helps treat blurred vision and menstrual issues.

Bittersweet is particularly beneficial to the skin, respiratory tract, bones and joints.

Bittersweet supports both the immune and digestive systems.

Bittersweet promotes eye condition and improves women’s health.

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