The Physiology of Flavor

This brief article is really an addendum to the article About Salt. Just as the salty flavor affects the Kidneys and salt metabolism, so does the sweet flavor affect the Spleen (pancreas in biomedicine) and sugar metabolism. The two tastes – salty and sweet – reflect the two basic substances of physiology. Our body contains salts and sugars. This is in contrast to the sour, bitter, and acrid tastes, which have no specific physiological correlation.

Each of the tastes does have correlation, or resonance, with a particular organ. This is according to Chinese five phase theory. Sour, bitter, sweet, acrid, and salty, correlate respectively with the Liver, Heart, Spleen, Lungs, and Kidneys. Strong preferences and cravings, and dislikes and aversions, can reflect imbalance in one or more organ system. This information is used to both diagnose as well as to treat using food and herbs in Chinese medicine.