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The Bitter and the Sweet: My Sugar Addiction

I love sugar. The taste of sweetness is the foundation of my personal food pyramid. As I write this I have just finished devouring another apple. When it comes to sweetness, I have no self control.

This is why I do not eat processed sugar. Or at least I didn’t, and then I did again. The situation is complicated.

I recently had a terrible chest cold that smacked of bronchitis. The coughing was terrible, and kept me (and my partner) up at night every night for over a week. I turned to honey, the oh-so-sweet and natural alternative to over-the-counter cough syrup that really works. The honey successfully soothes the throat, works as an antimicrobial for the nasties that are thriving down your gullet, and our pediatrician suggests it for children over 1 year old for their coughs. A little bit of honey was fine, but this opened the door to taking spoonfuls of honey throughout the day, in what I considered to be “medicinal usage.”

And this is when things got out of hand.

Being an herbalist, I chose raw local honey from my CSA as consuming it is known to help with allergies. A tablespoon a day will do ya as honey produced locally contains pollen from the local allergen-causing flora and acts as a mini allergy shot. But of course, a mere tablespoon was not for me. The sweet beast of my sugar addiction, furious from being denied its unhindered self-expression for so long, had now sunk its claws deep into the foundation of my being. During my frenzied week-long sugar binge I consumed easily 16 ounces of honey. A day. That’s 2 cups of honey, 3/4 of a pound, or (I can’t believe I am reading this correctly, and now understand how I gained 3 pounds) 2062 calories. A day. In just one day. Repeatedly, for a week.

Just a few days into my decent into unrestrained madness, I was feeling the affects of my poor choices. I expected to feel jittery, which I did. But I did not anticipate the not-so-subtle ache in my body. One morning I woke with quite noticeable menstrual cramps, which I hadn’t experienced since many month’s of having drunk red raspberry leaf tea had all but cure me of this. While I am prone to skin fungal infections, I took note how a spot on my torso seemed to have bloomed over night. I stopped eating apples as they were no longer sweet enough. And for some reason when I got up one day the pinkie toes of both of my feet were numb and remained so. In short, I felt terrible.

Western Herbalism recognizes five distinct tastes: Sweet, Salty, Sour, Pungent, and Bitter. My mentor, Tony(a) Lemos from Blazing Star Herbal School, points out that Sweet is the taste that sustains life. While the taste of Salt is a marker for higher mineral content and Sour often indicts a high amount of Vitamin C, the taste of Sweet relays carbohydrates which sustain and nourish the body.

With a sweet tooth like mine, I must have a real hunger for life. But this hunger is proving to be self-destructive. The ridiculous amount of sugar coursing through my veins was causing systemic inflammation which was affecting my muscles, my nerves, and my skin. Enough was enough. So I turned to the taste which is the antidote for Sweet:


I had run out of my morning dried dandelion root several moons ago. Now was the time to return it to my diet.

I washed my honey bowl for the last time (yes, I poured honey into a bowl and ate it with a spoon. The bowl may have been licked clean. Okay, I regularly licked the bowl clean). I finished my last 32 ounce jar of honey (one of many). And on one Sunday morning I brewed my dandelion root decoction and drank it.

It was bitter. And I was sad.

Then 36 hours after I recycled my last honey jar the feeling in my toes returned. My muscles were no longer sore. I didn’t feel like I was about to jump out of my skin. The diuretic property in the dandelion root was kicking in, the bitters supporting the over 500 different functions of my liver. I liked apples again. And life was returning to normal.

I’ve even begun to enjoy my morning cup of dandelion root tea.

And I especially enjoy feeling all of my toes.

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