SINGAPORE - Q I am a 46-year-old man. I have been having a salty taste in my mouth since the start of February.
In the beginning, the saltiness was so bad that it made me feel like vomiting. I consulted an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist who did a nasal endoscopic examination (a check on the interior of the nose using a scope). The result was normal.
I was prescribed omeprazole capsules and multivitamins but my condition did not improve after I took them for two weeks.
After that, I consulted a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practitioner for a few times over about a month.
During each consultation, I was prescribed a few different types of medicine but, till now, my condition still has not improved.
I will be grateful for your advice on how to cure my condition.
A In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), a salty taste is probably caused by the malfunctioning of the heart, spleen and kidneys.
In TCM, as the heart is connected to the tongue, the spleen to the lips and the kidneys to salty flavours, the health of these organs is vital in maintaining a normal appearance of the mouth and a balanced sense of taste.
Good circulation of adequate qi (energy) and blood is required for good health.
The kidneys control growth and development, and the bones.
When the kidneys are weakened - due to ageing, a weak constitution, tiredness and chronic diseases - it will trigger a salty taste in the mouth, with fatigue, insomnia, dizziness, tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and soreness and numbness of the limbs and/or lower back and knees.
The heart controls the mind and blood.
When the heart is weakened - due to ageing, overexertion, excessive thinking and sexual activities, and insufficient qi and blood - it will create "fire" in the heart.
The "fire" will cause the heart to be unable to harmonise with the kidneys and trigger a salty taste in the mouth, with insomnia, palpitations, ulcers, a sore throat, and soreness and numbness of the limbs and/or lower back and knees.
The spleen transforms and transports the nutrients into qi and blood.
In TCM, the aspect of yin, associated with coldness and moisture, and that of yang, linked to heat and warmth, also have to be balanced for good health.
When the yang of the spleen is weakened - due to a weak constitution, tiredness and a poor diet such as cold, spicy and oily food - it will transform the nutrients into "dampness" and phlegm.
These pathogenic (disease-causing) factors will further weaken the ability of the yang in the kidneys to metabolise water, and trigger a salty taste with fatigue, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, frequent urination and water retention.
Eat Well and Sleep Well
EAT WELL AND SLEEP WELL
Chinese herbal medicine, acupuncture and cupping therapy (placing heated cups on the skin to enhance qi and blood circulation) can help improve your condition by strengthening the organs and dispelling the pathogenic factors.
Chinese herbs such as cassia bark, common yam rhizome, prepared common monkshood daughter root and processed rehmannia root strengthen the kidneys.
Lophatherum herb, golden thread, baical skullcap root and white peony root dispel the "fire" in the heart.
Indian bread, cablin patchouli herb, fortune eupatorium herb, bitter apricot seed, pinellia tuber processed with liquorice root and lime, and grassleaf sweetflag rhizome strengthen the spleen and dispel "dampness" and phlegm.
Eat easily digested food, such as porridge, barley and vegetables, to strengthen the spleen and dispel "dampness".
Abstain from alcohol and raw, cold, spicy and deep-fried food.
You should go to bed early and get sufficient sleep - between 10pm and 6am - and take an afternoon nap between 11am and 1pm to produce more blood to nourish the heart and kidneys.
Ms Lim Lay Beng, traditional Chinese medicine practitioner at YS Healthcare TCM Clinic at The Adelphi.
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