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According to TCM 5 Elements Theory Taste Receptors in Numerous Organs are Necessary for Biological Control Via Sanjiao Throughout the Body by the Zang and Fu Organs. Amazingly, Recent Taste and Sense Organ Research Validates the TCM 5 Element Theory Chart Pertaining to 5 Food Flavours is Scientific.

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  Why is it that According to TCM 5 Elements Theory, Taste Receptors in Numerous Organs are Necessary for Biological Control Throughout the Body Via Sanjiao by the Zang and Fu Organs? How Does Recent Taste and Sense Organ Research Validate that the TCM 5 Element Theory Chart Pertaining to 5 Food Flavors is Scientific? 

In the 2013 article titled ‘Mysterious Taste Sensors Are Found All Over The Body’, Jennifer Welsh (162) opened her Business Insider Australia article with the stunning pronouncement indicating that taste receptors that perceive salty, sweet, and bitter foods aren’t only present on our tongues. She said, ‘Recently researchers are finding them present all over the body, from the mouth to the anus. Literally.’ She advised that taste receptors have been found in several locations in the body apart from the traditional tongue and that the locations included the stomach, intestines, pancreas, lungs, and brain, and intriguingly, researchers really don’t know what they are there for. So let’s consider some of the recent scientific findings in light of what was stated by ancient sages skilled in the art and science of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

This enlightening book is easy to understand, and is essential reading for everyone wishing to know all about numerous ancient TCM ideas and concepts that seemed to be implausible and fanciful, and yet are now being verified and vindicated by modern scientific research on a daily basis. This informative book can be securely purchased by clicking the ‘BUY NOW’ button at the bottom of this page.


41.2 Taste Proteins for Sweet and Umami Present in Testes Are Essential for Fertility

The article (162) further advised that new research published on 1 July 2013 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that taste proteins for the detection of sweet and umami (the amino acid taste of soy sauce) also exist in murine testes and that they play an important role in mouse fertility. The researchers were originally aiming to develop mice that didn’t have these taste receptors for use in oral taste-related studies. However, the researchers found that if these taste receptors were removed from the mouse testes or if their taste receptor function was blocked, the mice became infertile and were unable to reproduce. Regarding this remarkable finding, Mosinger said, ‘The males are sterile, their sperm count is low, and spermatozoa are not developed properly.’

A very concerning finding of this research is that the drug that the researchers used in the experiments to block the taste receptors in the testes is of a class of drugs that are used to treat high-blood cholesterol in humans. The dire consequence is that these anticholesterolemic drugs could be interfering with human fertility, the researchers said. Knowing how important this interaction is, this could make way for new treatments for infertility or even lead to male birth control. Study researcher Robert Margolskee of the Monell Chemical Senses centre reported that their current research findings pose more questions than answers and that further research is required to determine the pathways and mechanisms present in testes that employ these taste genes so that a greater understanding can be gained regarding why their loss results in infertility. (162)

41.3 The Stomach Can ‘Taste’ Umami, Glucose, Carbohydrates, Proteins, and Fats

A 2014 article entitled ‘Stomach as Nutrition Sensor’ (33) states:

The stomach can ‘taste’ sodium glutamate using glutamate receptors, and this information is passed to the lateral hypothalamus and limbic system in the brain as a palatability signal through the vagus nerve. The stomach can also sense, independently to tongue and oral taste receptors, glucose, carbohydrates, proteins and fats. This allows the brain to link nutritional value of foods to their tastes. (Emphasis is mine)

This is an incredible finding. That ‘the stomach can also sense, independently to tongue and oral taste receptors, glucose, carbohydrates, proteins and fats’ categorically confirms that the ancient sages were eons ahead of their time regarding the biochemical and physiological characteristics of the digestive system.

41.5 The Stomach Truly Does Transform the Five Tastes into Influences Transmitted to the Organs

In the commentaries on the first Difficult Issue on page 73 of Unschuld’s (1) translation of the Nan Ching, regarding the location and function of the seven through gates of the body, Yü Shu states:

[Food items carrying] the five tastes enter the stomach. There they are transformed to generate the five influences. The five tastes are sweet, salty, bitter, sour, and acrid; the five influences are rank, frowzy, aromatic, burned, and foul.’ These are the influences and tastes [associated with] the Five Phases. After the tastes have been transformed into influences, [the latter] are transmitted [from the stomach] upward into the hand-great-yin [conduit]. The great-yin [conduit] is responsible for the influences. It receives the five influences in order to pour them into the five depots. If the stomach loses its harmony, it cannot transform [taste into] influences. As a consequence, there is nothing for the hand-great-yin [conduit] to receive.

I would be very confident that after traumatic gastric bypass surgery, ‘the stomach loses its harmony’ and would subsequently be unable to ‘transform [taste into] influences’ mainly because the taste receptors have been removed or negated due to the surgical procedure. Remember that the ‘influences transmitted from the stomach’ include the ability to absorb necessary nutrients to sustain biological functioning, including the manufacture and synthesis of all the essential fluids of life (blood, lymph, cerebrospinal fluid, interstitial fluid, saliva, etc.).

41.6 The Stomach Delegates the Transformation Role to the Spleen

In the commentaries on the 14th Difficult Issue on page 190 of Unschuld’s (1) translation of the Nan Ching, regarding injury to the spleen, Yü Shu states, ‘The spleen takes in the five tastes. It transforms them to produce the five influences [for the] depots and palaces, and to make flesh and skin grow.’ In the case of injury to the Spleen, he states, ‘Here now, because of the injury, the tastes are not transformed and, hence, the flesh becomes emaciated.’ Note in this regard that the other solid organs also manifest pathological changes if they are injured.

41.7 Balanced Intake of the Five Tastes Ensures Strong Libido and High Fertility

In the commentaries on the 56th Difficult Issue on page 508 of Unschuld’s (1) translation of the Nan Ching, regarding the question ‘The spleen is responsible for the tastes . . . What does that mean?’, Wang Ping commented on this passage:

[w]hen the [large] intestine and the stomach develop an illness, it will be taken over by heart and spleen. When the heart takes it over, the blood will cease flowing. When the spleen takes it over, the [food carrying the] tastes will not be transformed. When the blood does not flow, the females do not have their monthly period; when the [food carrying the] tastes is not transformed, the males have little essence [i.e., semen]. Hence the most private and concealed matters cannot occur. (Emphasis is mine)

In this case of spleen illness, the taste influences in the food are not transformed to initiate the necessary influences, and females experience amenorrhea and low libido along with infertility, while under the same conditions, males develop low sperm count, most likely along with low libido and infertility also. It is remarkable that Wang Ping answers the question ‘What does that mean?’ regarding ‘the spleen is responsible for the tastes’. He immediately connects tastes with blood manufacture and amenorrhoea in females. Profoundly, Wang Ping states, ‘When the [food carrying the] tastes is not transformed, the males have little essence [i.e., semen]. Hence the most private and concealed matters cannot occur.’ Wang Ping is here directly connecting tastes with poor sperm parameters and infertility and impotence. Can you comprehend that? Does that make sense to you? Read on Macbeth.

As stated elsewhere in this book, new research (162) published on 1 July 2013 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that taste proteins for the detection of sweet and umami (the amino acid taste of soy sauce) also exist in murine testes and that they play an important role in mouse fertility. The researchers found that if these taste receptors were removed from the mouse testes or if their taste receptor function was blocked, the mice became infertile and were unable to reproduce. Regarding this remarkable finding, Mosinger says, ‘The males are sterile, their sperm count is low, and spermatozoa are not developed properly.’ How on earth did Wang Ping know that correct perception of the five tastes, along with a balanced diet involving all the tastes, was critical for a strong libido and high fertility?

41.8 Scent Receptors Occur throughout the Entire Body and Transform Smells into Influences

Over the last decade, research biologists have found all over our body these scent receptors as well as taste receptors previously thought to be only found in the olfactory organ of our nose and on taste buds of our tongue respectively. Incredibly, in 2003, bitter taste receptors were found in sperm. Greenwood (164) reported further that research biologists at the University of California, San Diego, identified the presence of sour receptors in the spine, while Pluznick isolated scent receptors in the kidney. Subsequently, researchers found taste receptors in the bladder and the gut that detected sweet taste and taste receptors in the sinuses, airways, pancreas, and brain that detected bitter taste. Scent receptors were even found in muscle tissue. Scientists do not know what taste receptors and scent receptors are doing in these diverse tissue types so far away from the tongue and nose.

Research by Pluznick and others confirms that in at least some tissues, these receptors are not passive. It appears that numerous types of tissues spread throughout our inner body are actually ‘smelling’ and ‘tasting’ the local environment deep inside of us and that this sensory mechanism is crucial for good health. Greenwood further explained that Professor Yehuda Ben-Shahar from Washington University in St. Louis isolated cells in the human airway that are equipped with bitter receptors. These airway cells are surrounded by microscopic hair-like protrusions that are called cilia. When dangerous chemicals are inhaled, the cilia flap in an effort to flush the potential danger out of the system.

Summary of Chapter 41

So how important are tastes and smells to the maintenance of good health throughout the entire body? Massively so! Sometimes, as practitioners, we may become a bit blasé about our TCM knowledge and relegate it to interesting information without much merit, but as can be seen from modern research, although our patients may have looked at us strangely when we said that salty flavour feeds the kidneys, I believe it is only a matter of time when researchers confirm this. Perhaps the removal of sweet and umami from mouse testes affecting the kidney-controlled testes is related to the effect of the mother and grandmother not feeding and controlling water? Time will tell. What this certainly does mean is that for infertile patients, diverse and wholesome foods are essential to increase their fertility. This research also confirms that aromatherapy certainly has scientific veracity for its proposed power to influence every part of our body, including our emotional state. These recent scientific findings suggest that numerous organs and structures within our bodies are ‘smelling’ and ‘tasting’ things deep inside of us all the time and that these abilities are crucial to our health. How did the ancient TCM scholars and practitioners know this fact?

REFERENCES:

(1) Unschuld, P. U., Nan Ching: The Classic of Difficult Issues (e-book edn, Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1986), 771. With commentaries by Chinese and Japanese authors from the third through the twentieth century.

(33) Wikimedia Foundation Inc., ‘Stomach’ (updated 24 July 2014). Available from <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stomach>.

(162) Welsh, J., ‘Mysterious Taste Sensors Are Found All Over the Body’ (2 July 2013). Available from <http://www.businessinsider.com.au/taste-receptors-in-testes-and-fertility-2013-7>.

(164) Greenwood, V., ‘The Startling Sense of Smell Found All Over Your Body,’ (updated 10 July 2013). Available from <http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20130710-how-our-organs-sniff-out-smells>.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT:

I wish to sincerely thank Dr Paul U. Unschuld for the selfless and tireless work he has committed to make many ancient Chinese medical classics available in English for study and research. My book is based predominantly around his scholarly work ‘Nan-Ching: The Classic of Difficult Issues’. I also wish to sincerely thank Professor Unschuld for permission to use citations of his translation in my book. His translation of ‘Nan-Ching: The Classic of Difficult Issues’ can be purchased from the following link: https://www.amazon.com/Nan-ching_The-Classic-Difficult-Comparative-Studies/dp/0520053729

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