• The Acupuncture Clinic of Tom Ingegno L.Ac 907 Lakewood Ave Baltimore, MD 21224
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    • 05 JAN 11
    • 0

    “A Spoonful of Sugar makes the Medicine go down….”

    I have already mentioned in a previous post that adrenal fatigue can be a problem at this time of year with the cold winter weather and added stress of end of year festivities. What I have not yet mentioned, however, is the effect that sugar has on our adrenal glands and kidneys. In TCM and the Five Element Theory consuming too much sugar, or food with a sweet flavor, overtaxes the spleen and pancreas. Qi becomes out of balance and the adrenals step in to pick up the slack by working harder to produce the hormones needed to balance out the high sugar levels. Energy is taken from the kidneys, resulting not only in weak kidney qi and adrenal fatigue but also in loss of bone strength and head hair. In the Five Element theory the sweet flavor is necessary, but moderation and balance are always paramount. There is no denying that America’s sweet tooth has increased over the years; according to the Journal of the American Medical Association, the average American adult now consumes the equivalent of nearly 22 teaspoons per day! So how can we satisfy our need for sweet without abusing the use of sugar?

    • Reduce intake of refined sugar. When natural sugar is refined and concentrated it passes quickly into the bloodstream in large amounts, giving stomach, spleen and pancreas a shock, leading to a blood sugar imbalance and a further craving for sugar. White sugar and also fructose, brown sugar and turbinado sugar fall into this category. Instead, to sweeten desserts use fruit juices, rice syrup, barley malt, stevia, unrefined cane juice, maple syrup, molasses or amasake.

    • Try cutting back on the amount of sweetener used in home baked recipes till you find a level that still satisfies you. Did you know that some German cookie brands marked For Export contain a significantly higher sugar percentage than the same product purchased in Germany?

    • Eat sweet vegetables for dessert (beets, carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin). Raw carrots can help with sugar cravings.

    • Chew your food. All complex carbohydrates, eg whole grains, legumes and root vegetables, become sweeter in taste the longer they are chewed.

    • Read labels. It is surprising how many foods these days on our supermarket shelves contain sugar and other artificial sweeteners: breads, soups, salad dressings, sauces, canned food, drinks, processed meats.

    • Use sprouts. Sprouting changes starch into sugar. Micro-algae foods such as spirulina and chlorella are very effective in reducing sugar cravings.

    • Exercise. When we exercise we stimulate our metabolism, which in turn will help use up any excess sugar in our system and bring us back into balance.

    If you feel your need for sugar is becoming more addictive in nature, despite attempts to change your diet, then you may need the additional help of medicinal herbs and acupuncture to bring your energy system back into balance.

    In TCM and also in Ayurvedic Indian holistic medicine, the sweet flavor builds yin in the body, the tissues and the fluids. It tonifys the thin and dry person; it energizes yet relaxes the body, nerves and brain and it calms aggressive behavior. The sweet flavor lubrciates dryness in the mouth, throat and lungs and can often be found in cough syrups and throat lozenges in the form of licorice and honey.

    Honey has become very popular in recent years as a substitute for white sugar in foods. For centuries it has been used as a medicine. Raw unprocessed honey is preferable, especially from bees local to the area you live in. A couple of warnings however: Honey should not be given to infants; and in Ayurvedic medicine honey is not recommended if it has been heated over 108 degrees Fahrenheit (eg in baked goods) as it is said to turn toxic.

    It is interesting to note that in very early writings of Chinese medicine, the sweet flavor was usually defined as coming from whole foods such as non glutinous rice, dates and mallows. I wonder what the TCM doctors back then would have made of today’s smorgasbord of sweet foods!!!

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