Today, we are going to speak about the sweet taste: little used in western herbalism and much appreciated within the Eastern traditions, sweet drugs are comforting, tonifying and nutritious.
One of the less pleasant of all tastes, but nevertheless so important form the therapeutical point of view: bitter. Let’s have a look at the nature of this taste and of its secondary tastes: acrid-bitter and bitter due to cyanogenetic glycosides.
Let’s have a look at a taste so peculiar, because of its important and, at least apparently, conflicting functions: indeed, it can soften and wet, or dry: the salty (or saline) taste.
Today we deal with the aromatic taste, that, as we will see, is related someway to the pungent taste, so much that it can almost be considered a secondary taste.
Taste is traditionally linked to herbal energetics, since according to all the principal herbal traditions the action exerted by each herb is strongly connected to its taste (or tastes).
The tastes formally recognized as such by modern science are: sweet, salty, bitter, acid and, since not long, also umami (which we can think of as the “taste of proteins”) and fatty.
In order to understand the plant actions in the view of the traditional medicines, we have first to look closely at the philosophies and models that underly such traditions. Modern medicine is based upon the current concepts of anatomy, physiology and pathology; all the traditional medicines, instead, are based upon models that differ somewhat from the current ones, being usually mostly analogic and “energetic” (that is, functional) rather than analytical and biochemical.
Often and often, we hear about Traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic Medicines, the most important traditional medicines of the Asian continent. Less known today, but of uttermost importance from a historical point of view, it’s the Hippocratic-Galenic model of medicine (called this way from the names of the two most important scholars of the related school of thought), another “energetic” medicine that was born and established in the Mediterranean basin.