Chinese Medicine – Salt, Sour, Sugar, Bitter, Spicy Cravings

Did you know that in Traditional Chinese Medicine, the 5 tastes are very important?

If you crave certain tastes in outrageous amounts, it can be an imbalance, and can indicate a weakness in your body, or a nutritional need that is not being fulfilled.

Here is a brief outline of what you could be craving, and what Chinese Medicine teaches could indicate a weakness in that area of your body:

1.  Salt Craving – kidney

2.  Sour – immune system, liver

3.  Sugar – spleen

4.  Bitter/burnt (like coffee) – endocrine, heart

5.  Spicy – lung

Diana Walker, Cravings Coach


  1. says

    Hi Marla,
    Great question.
    There are 2 main reasons why you would be craving water.

    1. Exercise – if you are working out a lot, and sweating a lot, and dehydrating your body, then you could be craving water. Also, of course, if you are out in the sun or hot weather a lot.

    2. Diabetes – it would be good to check with your physician if you are excessively thirsty, because it can be a symptom of diabetes.

    We should all be drinking at least 8 cups of water a day — and often up to 16 cups of water a day.
    Oh, are you eating a lot of salty products? because that also can of course increase your thirst.
    Hope this helps, Marla!

  2. Jessica says

    I have been craving very sour and spicy foods. I was diagnosed with an endocrine disease (addison’s disea). Could there be a link.

  3. Kathy says

    I have had anxiety for 5 years now and it is getting much better due to the natural supplements I have been taking from my holistic practitioner. I had no cravings for sugar for 4 years and now I have cravings almost everyday for sugar, particularly chocolate. What does this mean? I do understand that the sugar affects my nervous system and a little while later I feel panicky and anxiety.

  4. kim says

    This message is for Kathy who is craving chocolate. I too had that experience and there is a connection between the effect chocolate has on the brain and a chemical release of dopamine which send off a feeling of happiness. See if you can find a neurologist who will address your symptoms with a kind ear.

  5. says

    Hi Kathy — I know the sugar cravings are unbelievable – very addictive – and congratulations on overcoming them for 4 years.

    Thanks, Kim, for offering your suggestion.

    There is definitely hope, Kathy! — like Kim says, our moods can be elevated by sugar and chocolate, but then we crash again, and we need another “fix” unfortunately.

    The cycle continues. There is no easy answer.

    One of the best things you can do is to start your day with vegetables (even if you don’t want to) – that is why “green drinks” are so popular now — this helps so much, and your body gets the nutrition that it is craving, and it helps set you up for the day.

    Here are suggestions for green drinks:

    You can also find a lot of help here:

    Thanks for your question, Kathy.
    Thanks for your input and assistance, too, Kim!

    Be sure and subscribe to my newsletter also for Cravings Coach TIPS, which could provide you with other helpful hints as you go along on your journey to be free of sugar and chocolate cravings!

    Diana Walker, Cravings Coach
    CEO, Diana’s Healthy Lifestyles

  6. Sarah Drews says

    This is interesting to me, as I have been dealing with strange cravings since childhood. I have gitelman’s syndrome, which is simply stated: low potassium and low magnesium, I am on a constant supply of replacement supplements, and will always be. I found as a teen I began having strong salty, sour, and even spicy cravings. They got a bit better as I really cleaned up my diet, but lately, it is like all I can think about the cravings have gotten so strong. I am constantly munching on pickles (like 1/2 of a jar of dill pickles a day), drinking the pickle juice, eating hot sauce like catsup, and craving salt, salt, and more salt. I am getting frustrated with this, as I am trying to amp up my excersize routine, and all the salt, just leaves me feeling dehydrated. What to do??

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