You are currently viewing Sugar-Coatings, Syrup and A Spoonful of Sugar: Where Sweets Meet Medicine
Image by Дарья Яковлева from Pixabay

Sugar-Coatings, Syrup and A Spoonful of Sugar: Where Sweets Meet Medicine

  • Post author:
  • Post category:Health

Definitions are usually a good way to start an article to bring clarity to a particular topic, but in this case, it might not be necessary to give a definition of candy. Most people have already had first-hand experiential knowledge of the sweet, sugary goodies and know pretty well what candy is – sugar-based sweets that are individually sized and generally quite small and are typically eaten as a snack or as a form of recreational eating. The Middle English term ‘candy’ first came into usage in the late thirteenth century. The etymology dates back to the Old French term “çucre candi,” which literally translates as ‘sugar candy.’ Going even deeper into the etymological roots from Persian, Arabic, and Sanskrit, the respective terms of “qandi, qand,” and “khanda” are all words that translate to sugar. In many indigenous cultures around the world, learn more about how honey and sugarcane were used to make a variety of sweets. 

Sugar in medicine and the medicine in sugar

In ancient Greece and Rome, when sugar was first introduced, it was primarily for medicinal use, with only the very affluent using it to sweeten food. Prior to the Industrial Revolution, some forms of medicine were actually candies. These “candy cures” were not only remedies for a sweet tooth, but they were used to treat a variety of conditions, such as to calm an upset stomach or soothe a scratchy throat. Although sugar was actually viewed as a medicine with curative properties, most of the effect was psychological since it made the patients feel better.  

In modern medicine, sugar is not highly valued for its medicinal properties but is still very widely used in various preparations to make medicines more palatable and also as a preservative. While it is better understood why today’s medicines include sugar, the reasons are similar to what they were when sugar was seen as a medicine. You can learn more about how gummy supplements can make you happier and the overall conceptualization in the Mary Poppins film song that aptly captures how adding something sweet can make the averse appealing: “A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down in the most delightful way.” 

Placebos and sugar pills

Although it’s commonly known that excessive sugar can be detrimental to health, the positive effects of making medicines more appealing and giving a sense of well-being are not to scoff at. When examining the psychological factors behind illness and disease and the mind-body connection, using sugar to make sick patients feel better might not have been such a bad idea after all when taking the placebo effect into account. 

Studies have shown that when patients take placebos rather than actual medicines, they can still demonstrate improved health. The power of the mind is incredibly strong, and even though taking a sugar pill may not be the actual physical cure for a certain condition, it’s still possible that it can cure a patient as an outcome of the placebo effect. There are many interesting studies on the topic of the effectiveness of placebos, such as the one by Harvard University, More Than Just a Sugar Pill: Why the placebo effect is real.

Sugar has yet another related function within medicine, like when sugar pills are used not as placebos but to keep regularity in certain courses of medicine. For example, some types of birth control pills are only taken for a certain number of days during the month, according to a woman’s moon cycle. For the rest of the days, she still takes pills, but they do not have any of the hormones or medications in them since the sole purpose is to keep up with the habit of regularly taking a pill every day. 

Roses are red, violets are blue

The section title refers to a poem that continues with the lines, “sugar is sweet and so are you.” In the English language, as well as in many others, sugar as well as sweetness are commonly used as terms of endearment. For example, sugar, sugar-pie, sweetheart, sweetie, and honey are all affectionate nicknames for a partner or a child.

Featured Image by Дарья Яковлева from Pixabay