It can be a challenge to eat healthy. Sometimes, it only takes a single glimpse or thought of a favorite food, a sweet treat or a salty, savory snack for a ravenous craving to kick in. Over time these binges, if not controlled, can lead to weight gain, fatigue, muddled thinking, and moodiness.
A balanced meal, according to according acupuncture and Chinese medicine, consists of foods that represent all five flavors--sweet, sour, bitter, salty, pungent. Each of which corresponds to a specific organ channel. By understanding their connection, you can move toward maintaining a healthy appetite.
The five flavors are:
Associated with the Lung and Large Intestine pungent flavors include the dry, hot taste found in garlic, ginger, and onions needed to help the lungs properly circulate energy throughout the whole body.
Sweet flavors are associated with the Stomach and Spleen. Fruits, sweet potatoes, and some vegetables like carrots aid in digestion and reduce the toxicity of all foods.
Liver and Gall Bladder are associated with sour flavors. Sour foods, like pickles or vinegar, help your body metabolize fats better.
The bitter flavor found in dark chocolate, radish, and bitter gourd removes excess heat from the Heart and Small Intestine helping them function better and pacify negative emotions.
The salty flavor associated with the Kidney and Bladder has a big impact on moistening hard bowels and regulating their movements.
Curbing your cravings takes knowing which system is out of whack. If there is an intense hankering for sweet and salty foods, this implicates the Spleen, Stomach, Kidney, and Urinary Bladder. The desire for rich, fatty foods can be traced back to the Liver and Gall Bladder.
Both the Spleen and Stomach are associated with obsession and are usually the culprit behind every craving. An acupuncture treatment typically includes points to help bolster a sluggish Spleen and other lagging organs.
Needling a point called Three Yin Intersection is a powerful way to address problems with the Spleen, Liver, and Kidney and has incredible versatility. Moxibustion at the site of Three Yin Intersection makes use of the warmth and smoke of the moxa to revitalize a cold, tired Spleen. When the Spleen is warmed up and fully animated, it can properly digest food and is no longer 'tricked' into thinking all it can handle are less nourishing options. The body is then satisfied with normal portions of healthy foods.
To learn more about using food as medicine and how acupuncture and Chinese medicine address food cravings contact a practitioner near you to schedule an appointment.
Dharmananda, S. (2010, October) Taste and Action of Chinese Herbs: Traditional and Modern Viewpoints. Institute for Traditional Medicine Retrieved from http://www.itmonline.org/articles/taste_action/taste_action_herbs.htm
About the Author: Vanessa Vogel Batt, L.Ac., MSTOM, studied at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, and practiced acupuncture and Chinese medicine in New York for several years. Vanessa enjoys traveling the world, and has published articles on acupuncture and Chinese medicine and related health topics for websites and publications in both the U.S. and abroad.