Acupuncture for Food Cravings

Acupuncture helps for sugar cravings

Acupuncture helps for sugar cravings

In Chinese medicine there are five basic flavors which are bitter, sour, pungent, salty and sweet. There are however two main flavor cravings, that affect people the most, and they are the salty and sweet flavors.  The excessive intake of sweet foods and salty foods is known to cause many of the modern day diseases that plague mankind such as obesity and heart disease. Ancient Chinese medical physicians already knew what damage would be done to the body if people had excess salt and sugar.

Sweet and salty cravings are the most common

This was because having one flavor to excess was causing an imbalance to the system what is known as the “Five Elements” by ancient Chinese medicine practitioners. There are classic Chinese medical text references dating back 2000 years that state “eating too much sweet food will damage the teeth” and “eating too much salty food will damage the blood vessels”.

Chinese doctors worked out 2000 years ago that excess sweet and salty food caused disease

It wasn’t until about 1730 when the father of modern dentistry Pierre Fauchard reported that eating excess sugars contributed to dental caries and it wasn’t until the 20th century that western medicine realized that excess salt in the diet contributed to clogged arteries and cholesterol.

Taking the above into account, may help convince you that Chinese medicine physicians already know how to treat excess sweet and salty cravings. Chinese medicine physicians have said for centuries that if you have an unnatural excessive desire to eat sweet or salty foods, then the patient has an imbalance in their earth and water elements respectively. This correlates to the spleen and kidney energy being deficient.

Treat the spleen to help with excess sweet cravings

Chinese medicine theory stipulates that the sweet flavor is necessary to strengthen and balance the spleen organ but if someone is craving the sweet flavor out of the ordinary, it means that their spleen energy is weak and needs strengthening. The acupuncturist calls this “Tonifying the spleen”.

Mr Mark Crain, a specialist acupuncturist working in Brisbane, says that nearly 30 percent of all his patients require spleen energy supplementation. “It’s a modern day living thing” he said. “Patients study, concentrate, sit too much and  eat foods that are difficult to digest, all of which contribute to spleen deficiency”.

The Chinese herb dang shen -codonopsis can help the spleen

Chinese herbalists also prescribe herbs to tonify the spleen. There are many Chinese herbs that are classified as having a sweet flavor such as dang shen (Codonopsis), which have the recorded functions of treating Spleen deficiency symptoms such as tiredness and weak limbs. Dang shen also treats prolapse of the uterus which in some instances, can be due to spleen deficiency.  Other signs of spleen deficiency can include, bloating, gas, distension and irregular bowels. Often people presenting with these signs crave sugar to treat their tiredness and often resort to  a chocolate bar to give them a pick me up. Unfortunately eating highly concentrated sugars like chocolate and lollies don’t actually tonify the spleen.

Why do people crave sweet foods after the evening meal?

Many people complain of just having their sugar craving after their main meal at night time. This can be easily explained in Chinese medical theory terms. Many centuries ago, ancient Chinese physicians worked out what is called the Chinese Medicine Organ Clock where for 2 allocated hours of each day, the energy of a specific organ is at its peak in that time. This also means the energy of that organ will be at its lowest at that opposite time. In case of the stomach and spleen, their lowest ebb is in the evening around the time of the evening meal. This is why it’s not ideal to eat a big meal at night time because the stomach and spleen is at its weakest ebb and doesn’t have ample energy to process and digest it. Ever wondered why, most people don’t enjoy or crave cake and chocolate for breakfast. That’s because the spleen energy is at its strongest ebb at breakfast time according the Chinese Medicine Organ Clock.

Harmonizing the spleen and kidney can contribute to optimum health

Chinese medicine puts much emphasis on the health of the spleen and kidney and attribute many modern complaints to deficient energy of these organs. Tiredness, weak limbs, paleness, bloating, gas, irregular bowels, sore and weak low back, lack of motivation and difficulty to concentrate.

Perhaps give some thought to having some acupuncture and Chinese herbs to overcome your excess sweet and salty carvings. Heiko Lade will happily take the chocolate bars off your hands.

You might also be interested in...
About Heiko Lade

Hi, I'm Heiko Lade - qualified acupuncturist at The Acupuncture Clinic in Hastings, New Zealand. If you would like to make an appointment for a consultation and treatment, please contact me.


  1. Susan Collings says:

    I cannot stop eating. All i think about is food 24/7 .although i am not overweight. It is still a colesteral is high. Can acupuncture help me please

Please join the discussion by leaving a comment...

Please note: Your email is required but will not be displayed. Comments posted here will appear publicly on the website. If you have a private enquiry please email me via the contact page instead.