Excerpt from The Answer to Cancer, by Dr. Hari Sharma

Boy, does the body ever have a will of its own. Sugar craving. It can be as irresistible as any of the body's other cravings. You can begin to cut back on your intake of sugar just by having the intention to do so. Try having dessert with just one meal a day (lunch) instead of all three. Try having a piece of fruit for a snack instead of a chocolate éclair. Drink bottled water instead of soda. Gradually recondition yourself. (Want to know how much sugar is in a 12-ounce can of soda? 10 teaspoons. Really. We have the reference on it.) It can work, but the body can be pretty insistent in its cravings. Few among us can keep from giving in to the sugar urges, especially if nobody is watching and (as is the case from the gas station to the supermarket to the restaurant to the neighborhood news stand) the temptation is present. "I'll have just one square of a chocolate bar," we tell ourselves, and, before we know it, the six pack of chocolate bars in the cupboard is history.

You can give your body a little assist. Here's an ayurvedic secret. Try a little gymnema sylvestre. This gentle herb, usually known by just its first name, gymnema, is the "sugar stomper-outer." It works on more than one front, too. First of all, gymnema takes away the taste of sugar. It does. Take a little bit, then put some sugar on your tongue. Most people say the same thing — "It tastes like sand." Gymnema's active ingredient is "gymnemic acid," and the molecules in it look to the body like sugar molecules. The molecules fill the receptor locations on your taste buds, so, when a little glucose comes along, there's "no one home" (i.e. no taste buds) to receive it. You don't taste the sweetness. As a bonus, gymnema takes away the taste of bitter as well, so chocolate won't have its usual allure for you either. When it gets into your small intestine, the gymnemic acid also does a little imposter number. It fills up the receptor locations for sugar in the intestine, preventing sugar from using them instead. Sugar passes out of the body instead of into the bloodstream. Your blood sugar heads in the right direction, namely down.

Western researchers have begun to document the beneficial effects of gymnema but, of course, they don't fully understand how to use it properly. (OK, they're clueless, but how would it sound for us to say that? They have absolutely no idea of the right use of gymnema and are as likely to have you sucking it all day long or eating potent extracts of it as they are to somehow luckily strike on the right dosage.) Here is an admission from one discussion of gymnema in Western science: "The most appropriate dose is unknown ... A minimum and maximum effective and safe dose is unknown." What Western medicine doesn't know about gymnema, though, ayurvedic medicine has known for a few thousand generations.

One good place to get the right dose of gymnema in the right combination with other herbs is from Be Trim Tea. Just have a cup of this tea two or three times a day, and your body won't have that irresistible craving for "just a couple of bonbons, maybe a few mints." When you're ready for dessert following a meal, first have two or three fresh dates. (Organic Medjool dates are so good they can take your mind completely off hot fudge sundaes for the moment.) Have some other dried fruits, if you like. The brain needs some sugar, so you shouldn't try to eliminate all sugar from your diet. Once you've had some sweets, take the Be Trim Tea. Sit quietly for five minutes following your meal, then easily resume activity.

Here's what's in the Be Trim Tea:

Mint Leaf, Fennel Seed, Indian Kino, Gymnema Sylvestre, Manjistha, Cinnamon Stick, Cardamom, Black Pepper, Long Pepper, Turmeric Root, Rose Petal, Licorice Root. The tea will help you develop a little moral strength, enough to resist that piece of chocolate cake with strawberries. (Have just the strawberries instead.) For information on how to get the Be Trim Tea, see the section "Product Recommendations" at the end of the book.

Sugar, sugar, sugar. Nobody thinks of it as a bad word. Nobody thinks of it as a bad substance. Maybe a few health extremists have attacked it here and there, but with about as much success as enemies of video games and television. No appreciable success. Sugar is fun, and what can it hurt? Well, it can feed cells that want to become cancerous. Also, it can really depress your immune system, and, if you think about it, your immune system does a lot more every day than fight against cancer. It fights against everything — colds, flu, any kind of bacteria, virus, or toxin that might go swimming around in your body. You probably want to keep it as strong as you possibly can. You may need a little assist in your fight against sugar addiction, of course. You're only human. Gymnema can do that for you. Have a little gymnema, and sugar becomes as tasteless as some of the late-night TV humor.

The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for the number of a physician in your area. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.