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Chinese Medicine To Stop Cravings For Sweets

If you find that you have a regular craving for sweets, consider reaching out to a TCM practitioner. Treatments such as acupuncture and herbs along with lifestyle modifications such as moderate exercise will all do wonders in your fight against sweet foods. And the next time you want to eat some sweet foods, treat yourself to a pickle instead.

Why Do We Crave Sugar?

Sugar craving may seem like something that just happens to people when they want to eat some sweets. Like with everything that goes into the human body, it turns out it is far more complicated than that. People do not just crave sugar because they enjoy the occasional sweet treat. There is a reason the body has a craving for sweets. Read on to learn more about why people crave sweet foods and how to stop cravings for sweets.

Western Medicine View on Sugar Cravings

Sweet flavor comes from sugar. Common table sugar is broken down into glucose in the body. This is further complicated by the fact that many food manufacturers try to rename sugar in order to make their foods appear to have less of it. Any ingredient such as nectar, dextrose, or high-fructose corn syrup are all just codes words for sugar.

Western medicine has demonstrated that sugar cravings are caused by the body’s desire for dopamine.  When you eat sugar, it stimulates the release of both opioids and dopamine. Both of these are feel-good chemicals. As these are released in the human body, it can result in feelings of elation and happiness. As with most of these types of chemicals, this can bring about changes to the opioid and dopamine receptors. The usual result is that the body will need more and more sugar to get that same level of elation it felt from those sweet foods. The body will take sugar, break it down into glucose, use some as energy, store some as glycogen, and, unfortunately, convert the remainder to fat by way of the liver. If the body is sending signals that it wants more sugar, then that makes some people less likely to fuel their bodies with essential macronutrients such as fat and protein.

The Traditional Chinese Medicine View on Sugar Craving

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) recognizes five flavors. They are salty, sweet, sour, bitter, and pungent. That sweet flavor is often associated not only with the earth but with the spleen. TCM believes that it is the spleen that drives these sugar cravings.

Causes of Sugar Craving in TCM

1. Overworked Spleen

As the body receives energy from glucose, which is the result of carbohydrate metabolism, the spleen can become overwhelmed. It plays a vital role in metabolism. It is an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to the absorption of nutrients. When it is not functioning properly, it can be problematic. Therefore, when one is experiencing a craving for sweets, it is possibly due to the overworked spleen.

2. Stress

 In TCM, when the spleen is overworked, it can also lead to stress. Stress is also a trigger for the craving of sweets. As the body and mind experience stress, they will crave that dopamine and opioid release that sweet foods are well known to provide. Eating sweet foods will then bring about the pleasure that the body and mind are craving in their effort to get rid of that stress.

3. Blood Deficiency

A craving for sweets may also be the result of some sort of deficiency in the blood. A study out of the University of Iowa discussed how various cravings may be the result of low levels of sodium chloride which is more commonly known as salt. Salt is an essential micronutrient that the body cannot live without. When the body experiences a deficiency in this area, it will again trigger the craving for sweets in an effort to feel that dopamine and opioid response.  

There are a number of options in Chinese Medicine that will stop cravings for sweets

  1. Acupuncture: Acupuncture is an ancient TCM practice that uses fine needles inserted into the skin in key points of the body. It is used to balance the flow of energy, or Qi, throughout the human body’s pathways which are called meridians. It is widely used for stress management. Since stress is a known trigger for the craving of sweet foods, acupuncture’s ability to manage stress may help reduce the craving for sweets. It has also been shown to influence blood insulin levels and help to regulate blood sugar levels. A study out of Nagoya City University Medical School was able to demonstrate that reduced blood glucose levels in rats.


  1. Moxibustion: Moxibustion is an herbal heat therapy used in TCM. It has been shown to reduce and stop cravings for sweets and to improve blood sugar. According to a study out of the College of Oriental Medicine, it is used in the treatment of diabetes. Their study showed that the use of moxibustion was just as effective as the use of western pharmaceuticals in the control of blood sugar levels.


  1. Chinese Herbs: Herbs such as Cinnamomum cassia(Chinese cinnamon) and Gymnema sylvestre have been shown by the National University of Health Sciences to regulate insulin levels in the body. As an added benefit, they also aid in weight management.


  1. Diet: A change in diet can also do its part to reduce the craving for sweets. The next time you are craving sweet foods, try eating something that contains salt, such as a pickle, instead to see if perhaps it was not just a blood deficiency.


  1. Lifestyle: Just like acupuncture, other means of stress management also have a roll in how to stop sugar cravings. Exercise such as walking, running, yoga, or resistance training will help your body to manage the stresses of everyday life and therefore reduce the craving for sweets.

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* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. We can’t guarantee the treatment result, as the symptoms of conditions are unpredictable and vary greatly from person to person. The treatment length and recovery time also varies for individual. Please visit our clinics website: GinSen where a specialists will discuss your care and provide a consultation, and the treatment will be designed to meet your individual needs.

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