Published Annual WellBeing Issue 102 November 2005
Sugar medicine: The discovery of a homeopathic remedy – Saccharum - for people who crave sugar and affection.
Sugar – probably the last thing you’d expect to help with health problems. But researchers have found that in very small doses sugar can be used as a homeopathic medicine. Recent papers written on sugar as medicine have been applauded by homeopathic journals worldwide and many practitioners are exploring its clinical application for kids and adults who crave junk food, are buzzed by sugar, and have problems with hypoglycaemia.
Sugar has a bad reputation and has been linked with a variety of health problems. But homeopathic pharmacies are able to turn sugar into a homeopathic medicine (known as a remedy) so sugar can then treat the health problems it is also known to cause. This is the principle of “like cures like” in action and is the basis on which every homeopathic remedy works.
It was the reputation of sugar that first stimulated Dr Tinus Smits from the Netherlands to think that sugar would make an effective homeopathic remedy. At first Tinus considered the double edged reputation of sugar – both the positive and the negative. He took into account the way we give sweets as a gift when we want to show our love and we use sugary words as endearments - calling our loved ones “sugar” and “sweetheart,” and when we feel like a special treat we eat sweet food. Sugar is an important ingredient of cakes used in celebrations in our culture. We have a wedding cake tradition of saving the top tier until the couple’s first anniversary with the sugar acting as a preservative. On the other hand, the list of problems stemming from over consumption of sugar is well known. Sugar has been proven to cause tooth decay and sugar often goes hand in hand with fatty foods; think cakes, biscuits, chocolate and pies.
To complete his modern research, Tinus looked at all the available information about the sugarcane plant itself, the early use of sugar as a medicine in the battlefield, the effects and symptoms of hypoglycaemia, and century-old homeopathic research.
The sugar cane plant
Sugar is processed from sugarcane, which is a species of very tall grass with thick stems which was first used for food by the Chinese between 200 and 600 AD. It has a fibrous marrow, full of sweet sap underneath the tough bark. Sugar is made in the plant stem, to store energy that is not needed straight away, like animals make fat.
It is believed that sugar was introduced into Spain around the eighth century. Columbus carried sugar cane to America on a voyage from Spain and it later spread throughout the tropical world coming to Australia with the First Fleet. Because it was only produced in small quantities, it was considered a great luxury. At the time sugar was processed by boiling the cane juice then harvesting the crystals left behind after the water evaporated. These crystals contained protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They were calorie-dense and provided essential nutrients.
Much later, the process of refining sugars and stripping out many of these nutrients was perfected, and sugar became a profitable industry. Sugar is now produced in more than 100 countries and global production exceeds 100 million tons a year.
The early use of sugar medicine in the battle field
Dr. Tinus Smits also examined the traditional use of sugar as a medicinal agent. In days gone by, it was used to combat infection in wounds in the battle fields because of the way it promotes healing – sugar would lead to intense osmotic changes, which rinsed out the wound with serum. Ulcers were also sometimes sprinkled with powdered white sugar to remove fungus.
According to some figures, consumption of sugar per person in America has reached around 60kg a year, while in Australia we each consume around 43kg a year – fortunately in Australia the yearly consumption figure is falling.
People with disturbed sugar metabolism show imbalance through possibly having eating problems such as a ravenous appetite soon after eating; constant appetite; appetite that cannot be satisfied; sleeplessness ameliorated by eating; eating frequently between meals; irresistible desire for sweets; need to eat on waking; faint feeling on waking or antisocial feelings and irritability when hungry. In adults and kids we can see the link between these symptoms and the swings in blood sugar, which strongly influence social behaviour and emotional wellbeing.
One cause of these problems is the overuse of ‘easy’ carbohydrates in the form of sugar. Other related causes are coffee, alcohol and cigarettes. The caffeine in coffee, cola, tea and chocolate, stimulates adrenaline that in turn, stimulates the release of sugar from the liver into the blood. About 70% of people with alcohol problems suffer from hypoglycaemia. Sugar levels in smokers blood also increases after a cigarette.
The behaviour of juvenile delinquents is ameliorated if they are put on a sugar-free diet. 82 percent from a group of 106 were found to suffer from hypoglycaemia. For many of them, a change in their diet led to a change in their social behaviour. However diet is often the hardest thing to change and research also shows that some people are more susceptible to these problems from early in life, and will crave sugar even as a toddler.
Homeopathic research from a century ago
The first part of the research done by Dr. Smits uncovered the fact that a homeopathic remedy had been made from sugar more than a century ago. The remedy had been known as Saccharum officinale, which is not the same as the artificial sweetener Saccharin. Reports show that early homeopaths used Saccharum effectively for rickets, infections, scurvy and “affections of the spleen,” and the homeopathic journals of the day reported some astounding clinical observations and cases. With the passage of time, the remedy had been forgotten since it was no longer required in homeopathic practice.
Details about Saccharum were buried in old Materia Medica books which contained work done by the homeopathic research method called a proving. Provings provide a detailed listing of the many mental, emotional and physical symptoms that can be treated. Provings are still conducted in modern-day homeopathy in a method which hasn’t changed much since homeopathy was first invented. This reassuring aspect of homeopathy shows that it has stood the test of time.
The old books say; “Saccharum may be used for children who are capricious; care nothing for substantial food, but want little nick-nacks; always cross and whining, and, if old enough, are insolent, and do not care to occupy themselves in any way.”
Compensating for a lack of affection
We all have different ways of reacting when we feel a lack of love and affection. We can try to compensate for it, or we can refuse offers of affection and claim that; “We don’t need it anyway”. Another common way of compensating is eating sweets.
In children who claim that nobody loves them, there may be an exaggerated display of behaviour that otherwise would be seen as a normal part of childhood. An excessive desire for cuddles may be apparent along with wanting absolute physical contact with their mother when they are no longer an infant. Putting everything in their mouth and touching everything will go along with exaggerated sucking of fingers and biting nails. Adults may have altered the need to put their hand to their mouth by doing it to smoke a cigarette.
There may be a great need to possess objects or to have new things with an everlasting feeling of dissatisfaction. Also the capacity to have a lasting friendship or relationship is thwarted by the perception that nobody cares for them. No matter how much the parent or friend reassures them, they constantly seek affirmation that they are loved. Tinus Smits said “They are like a perforated bucket, which you try to fill with all the water you have”. These are the type of people who would benefit from a carefully thought out diet plan but find it impossible to maintain.
Saccharum the remedy
The main theme for someone needing Saccharum is a significant nurturing deficit, which the person attempts to fill with close physical contact and by devouring sweets. The person feels and acts as if they did not receive enough love and nurturing in their early life. Physically these people may suffer from hypoglycaemia and have recurrent infections such as sinusitis, chronic rhinitis and ear infections.
Saccharum may resemble other homeopathic remedies and should be carefully differentiated from them before being prescribed. It may resemble the remedy Belladonna because both have the tendency to flushing red in the face and share an aversion to vegetables and milk. It may also be very similar to the remedy Chamomilla because both have increased thirst, are oversensitive to pain, have an urgent desire to be carried and are restless.
Most kids like sweets but the ones needing Saccharum have an extreme craving. The parents will give up taking the child shopping with them because it becomes impossible. These kids need to eat frequently and often hoard food especially sugar. They are the ones who will literally eat sugar out of the sugar bowl. Sweets and other carbohydrates disappear out of the pantry.
In his research, Tinus found that children who will benefit from the remedy Saccharum are often very pale, as “white as sugar”. They have a strong forsaken feeling, which is almost delusional, with a desire to be held in the arms of their mother and a screaming desire to sleep with their parents. They like to have attention and are very chatty and love to be in the limelight. Extreme aggression and restlessness may be present and they will have difficulty concentrating. Their mood is worse early in the morning when they will demand breakfast immediately and seem better once they have eaten it. When young they are cross and whining and when older they are insolent and find it difficult to occupy themselves–everything is too much trouble.
Adults needing Saccharum may have had a childhood reputation like the picture just described. By the time they reach adulthood they will have changed their outward behaviour though the unloved inward feeling remains. Compulsive eating, especially sweets, chips and cakes has become a concern and may stem from a lack of physical contact in childhood, or a lack of love even though this may be their perception only. They may describe a childhood where good behaviour was rewarded by sweets. Their profound problem is a desperate search for affection and uncertainty about attention from partners and parents. Loquacity or hasty speech may have become a habit for them, subconsciously to get attention. Their partners will say they are slow to wake up. Ever since childhood they feel irritable in the morning until breakfast, or during the day if they go too long without food. If they don’t eat regularly symptoms start such as headaches, weakness, trembling and a dizzy feeling. Body temperature may be unstable with extreme chilliness alternating with heat, especially at night when they stick their hot feet out from the bed covers.
Since the research has been completed there are cases reported worldwide which confirm that the remedy has a powerful action. This beneficial action is simply explained by the fact that it helps the person emotionally with their forsaken feelings and they therefore find it easier not to seek out sweets. The remedy is also beneficial when someone has started some dietary modifications and they are having trouble maintaining them.
The picture of the remedy Saccharum comes up during the case taking conversation between the homeopath and the person. The whole case taking may take an hour or more to be able to get an understanding of the person. The following cases are snapshots of the whole conversation.
Case one from Dr. Tinus Smits in the Netherlands.
Hendrik is a pale, six year old boy. When he is alone he is extremely anxious and his mother has to lie at his side in bed to help him off to sleep and he wakes frequently. Hendrik wants to be held at night, but apart from that he’s not very cuddly in the day and resists offers of affection. At school he is restless and finds it impossible to sit quietly. Hendrik craves bread with thick butter, sugar and chocolate, and has a stronger thirst than other children his age. After Saccharum, his anxiety was less, he slept well, the restlessness improved and his overall diet and wellbeing improved.
Case two from Tinus Smits.
A three-week-old baby, Jovanna fell asleep so consistently when breastfed that she lost weight. She has dry skin and a rather low temperature and there is diabetes on her mothers side of the family. Her four brothers and sisters have already been prescribed Saccharum with great success. After being given Saccharum, Jovanna began to feed with no problems and gained weight normally. Her skin also changed from dry to a more healthy baby skin.
Case three from Judyth Reichenberg- Ullman in America.
Joey was a seven-year-old boy with a big smile who was adopted from an orphanage in China. Although the orphanage was well run and Joey had not suffered any severe neglect, he had experienced parental abandonment. He loved to cuddle and was very touch-oriented. Joey was a good runner and would wander off impulsively whenever he felt the urge. He also picked on other children, had trouble sitting in his seat at school and was loud and yelled, even though he was sensitive to noise himself. His desire for sweets was intense, and he sneaked them when nobody sees. Joey responded very well to Saccharum as he became less aggressive, more settled and his sugar craving decreased dramatically, though he still likes sweets.
Case four from Anton Rohrer in Austria.
Florian is a teenager who lies in bed and neglects his work at school. He likes to play with his Game Boy and avoids mental and physical exertion. He says he prefers “only the sweet part of life, the easy going part”. When he was younger, he had recurrent tonsil problems and coughs and he strongly desired sweets and chocolate. Indulging in sweets would lead to diarrhoea. After Saccharum, he stopped lying around, took on more responsibility at school and lost his sweet cravings.
Case five from Linda Beaver in Newtown, Sydney.
28-year-old Jennifer grew up in a country town with a loving family but coming to Sydney in search of work as a young adult made her feel insecure. At the time, most of her peer group thrived in the city but she felt forsaken with nobody to cook or care for her. Relationships were a problem with partners describing her as “too needy.” She eats mostly fast food, hot chips, bread rolls with butter and craves sweets. She says for years she has been “never really properly hungry for a meal”, but that had changed and she was always hungry with mood swings between being weak, tired, dizzy or cranky. After Saccharum, her whole world turned around emotionally and she found it easier to look after herself, including eating more carefully.
Saccharum is one of the most important homeopathic remedies available to help problems with sugar metabolism but is not one of the homeopathic remedies which can be self prescribed. A full case history must be taken by a professional homeopathic practitioner in order to make sure it is the right remedy. To find a homeopath in your area please phone the Australian Homeopathic Association in your state or visit http://www.homeopathyoz.org
Like cures like
Homeopathy is an holistic system of medicine with around 3,000 different remedies available. When sugar is turned into a remedy it is capable of treating ailments that it also causes. This is “like cures like” in action, and it is the basis on which every homeopathic remedy works. Other examples of like cures like are:
- Allium cepa (onion) given for burning, running eyes and conjunctivitis which is similar to what happens to your eyes when you cut an onion
- Apis mellifica (honey bee) given for puffed up, red, rosy swelling in allergic reactions which is similar to the effects of a bee sting
- Coffea cruda (coffee)given for nervous sleeplessness from a rush of ideas which is similar to the effect of drinking too much coffee
- Natrum muriaticum (common salt) given for extra thirst, dry mouth, dry skin, fluid retention similar to the effects of eating too much salt
- Rheum (rhubarb) given for colic and diarrhoea especially in children, similar to the effect of eating too much rhubarb or unripe fruit.
Allen,T.(First published 1878). The encyclopedia of pure materia medica: Plumbum to Serpentaria. Volume 8.
Reichenberg-Ullman, J., Ullman, R. (June, 2003) A sweet homeopathic remedy for adopted kids: Healing with homeopathy. Townsend letter for Doctors and patients.
Smits, T. (1995). The magic sugar: Saccharum officinale. International Homeopathic Links (3), p.28-36.
Vermeulen, F. (1996). Synoptic Materia Medica 11. Netherlands: Merlijn Publishers, p.752-755.
Wickes Felter, H., Lloyd, J. (1898). Saccharum – Sugar. King’s American Dispensatory www.ibiblio.org/herbmed/eclectic/kings/saccharum.html (Accessed May, 2005.)