Alternatively Speaking: Curbing the cravings

Alternative medicine enthusiast Natalie Marx answers your questions: How can I prevent sugar cravings?

March 12, 2012 16:49

donuts 370. (photo credit: Thinkstock)


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Q. I have a very sweet tooth and find it almost impossible to control my sugar cravings.  Are there any herbs to help curb the cravings?

A. There are several medicinal herbs which can help to curb sugar cravings with no side effects. Ginseng is a wonderful herb which helps to stabilize both energy and blood sugar levels. A typical dose of ginseng powder in capsules is 4,000 to 6,000 mg per day. Ginseng is particularly indicated if you crave sugar during times of stress, taking this herb will therefore prevent the risk your blood sugar fluctuating.

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Licorice is one of my favorite which I prescribe frequently to people who suffer from a sweet tooth. It is a sweet herb used in both cooking and herbal medicine. For many years it has been used to treat indigestion and obesity. I suggest using licorice as a substitute for sugar since it is a natural sweetener, and you will therefore reduce your sugar intake.

As a supplement, try Chromium. Chromium works to help the body maintain and balance blood sugar, thereby reducing the cravings. The recommended dosage range is 600 to1000 mcg a day taken three times daily with a meal. Vitamin C produces the hormone cortisol which is essential in helping to keep blood sugar stable during stress. Vitamin C works to decrease the symptoms of low blood sugar and can reduce sugar cravings. You can either take in capsule form or you can try eating more foods rich in vitamin c such as citrus fruits, raspberries, strawberries, broccoli, papaya, red and green peppers, cabbage and cauliflower.

If you experience a very strong urge for something sweet, try taking a glutamine supplement. Glutamine is able to stabilize blood sugar since it works to suppress insulin production so that blood sugar stops dropping. Glutamine also stimulates the release of glycogen thereby increasing blood sugar back to normal levels. Recommended dose is 500 mg when you are craving something sweet. 

Lastly I suggest purchasing a vitamin B complex. B complex helps to assist the body’s response to stress, therefore being an essential vitamin for the adrenal gland. As we become stressed our adrenal gland becomes more fatigued which is why stress plays such an important role in driving our sugar cravings (needing a quick pick up). Instead of taking a B complex supplement you can include more leafy green vegetables in your diet along with fish, cereals and nuts.


Q. I have read recently about the long term side effects of the use of aluminium in antiperspirants. Do you have any natural alternatives you can recommend that are just as effective?

A. The reason why so many deodorant manufacturers use aluminum compounds is to reduce perspiration. Aluminum prevents the sweat duct from reaching the skin's surface by clogging the pores. Body odor is not due to sweat, but due to bacteria that breed in the sweat. Therefore most natural deodorants act to prevent the odor from occurring by preventing bacterial growth, rather than purely masking the smell.

Essential oils and herbs particularly useful in natural deodorants are lavender, sage oil, citrus, rose and lemon. You can find aluminum-free deodorants that use botanicals to fight bacteria which are available with both scented and unscented options. Tea tree is a common ingredient in natural deodorants due to its antibacterial and antiseptic properties. You can simply drop some tea tree oil into a small spray bottle and use over parts of the body that have an unpleasant odor.

A rather nice mild, safe deodorant which I use and does seem to deliver a long-lasting protection is from the manufacturer JASON. They have various scents to choose from. Their Aloe Vera Deodorant Stick is formulated without Alcohol, Aluminium Chlorohydrate or Propylene Glycol. They use certified organic Aloe Vera Gel and Corn Starch, Vitamin E, Lavender Oil,  and Clove.


Q. Can you tell me what Arnica is good for?

A.  Arnica Montana is a wonderful flowering plant native to North America and Europe. Its dried flowers have been used in medicinally since the 1500s. It has long been regarded as the essential ingredient to have in your first aid kit at home, or many even carry it around in their purse! Arnica typically comes in topical cream, gel, ointment or an in homeopathic solution. Most commonly it is used for treating used muscle and joint pain, bruises, inflammation and sprains. It has earned its reputation for dramatic healing properties and is particularly popular amongst athletes.

I have also used it very successfully as a healing cream for rheumatic pain, inflammation from allergic reactions or insect bites, and even as a mouthwash for sore gums. As a homeopath, I prescribe Arnica homeopathic arnica not only for bruising but also to help ease the effects of acute trauma, both emotional and physical.

For best results I suggest applying arnica directly after an injury since it significantly reduces bruise formation. Its anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory qualities will also help reduce pain and swelling while improving the wound itself. In homeopathic form, Arnica has been popularly used during labor for preventing bruising and speeding up healing post birth. Many midwives suggest Arnica oil be added with warm water and applied over any areas where there has been post natal tears. Avoid using the cream or ointment directly on broken skin since it may cause irritation, make sure you dilute it and consult with your health care provider. 

This column is brought to you as general information only and unless stated otherwise is not medical advice nor is it based on medical experiments.

This column is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. For more information about specific problems, please contact a doctor.

Ask Natalie: If you have a health query and would like an alternative answer then email Natalie with your question

Natalie runs a clinic both in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem offering a wide range of natural treatment. Healing is achieved using homeopathy, reflexology, massage, flower remedies and nutritional wisdom.

To make an appointment please email

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