Are digestive bitters helpful during a nourishing cleanse? I know it is important to feed the fire and it seems like these might help digest well at a time when we want to make it easier for the body. What are your favorite bitters (in a bottle)? Can they do a similar job as digestive enzymes, which have been recommended for me as possibly a lifetime supplement.
Definitely! As Dr. Vasant Lad said, “Bitter is best.” The culinary herbs in kitcharee (if that is the type of cleanse you are doing) have a mild amount of bitterness, as do any dark leafy greens or mesclun greens/lettuce you might be eating, but it is always nice to make sure you are getting enough of that bitter taste by taking bitters with meals. The bitters stimulate the body to secrete a cascade of digestive secretions – starting with saliva. I think they could easily be used in place of digestive enzymes, but I am an herbalist so will almost always tend toward whole plant extracts and tastes rather than supplements. Urban Moonshine has an article that explains why in more detail: http://www.urbanmoonshine.com/blog/bitters-vs-digestive-enzymes/
From an Ayurvedic perspective, if you have a lot of Vata in your constitution (prakruti) or condition (vikruti) then you will want to be more conservative with the quantity and intensity of the bitters you use. Urban Moonshine makes a wonderful line of bitters. I think this formula is gentle, warming (to balance out the cold of the bitters) and effective. It is a good place to start for high Vata.