• 5 Reasons to Try Acupuncture for Weight Loss

    Saturday, November 18th, 2017

    by Mark Brown, Acupuncturist

    If you are like most people, you are probably wondering how acupuncture helps you lose weight. Often when we start a new exercise or diet plan, we suffer from hunger pangs and a lack of energy. Acupuncture can help with weight loss because it increases our energy levels and gives us more willpower to do what is necessary to take off those extra pounds.

    acupuncture-for-weight-lossAcupuncture can also boost metabolism and increase circulation through the application of acupuncture needles which mobilize the body’s energy reserves. This helps support weight loss along with the added benefit of lowered cholesterol.

    If you are concerned about acupuncture being “new and unproven” you can feel at ease knowing that the practice of acupuncture is more than 5,000 years old, which is significantly older than Western medicinal therapies.

    Getting started with an acupuncture for weight loss program involves finding a licensed acupuncturist in your area and making an appointment for a consultation. Once the root causes of your weight gain have been identified, a treatment program will be designed for you.

    How Acupuncture Helps Control Appetite

    In the case of overweight people, an acupuncture specialist will begin with a physical and psychological examination in order to understand the reasons for the individual’s weight problem.

    Once the fundamental causes of the weight problem are identified, the acupuncture specialist will insert needles into different areas of the person’s body in order to help improve the body’s functioning.

    The insertion of very fine sterile needles into the body at specific points called “energy pathways” allows the free flow of energy throughout the body. This stimulates the body to repair and heal itself.

    For a patient who wants to lose weight with acupuncture, the acupuncturist normally inserts five needles in each ear. Of these needles, four help with detoxification of the body: kidneys, lungs, nervous system and liver. The final needle aids in relaxation.

    Acupuncture stimulates your body to release endorphins, which are the body’s own pain-relieving chemicals. It is theorized that one way acupuncture weight loss treatments work is by helping to control appetite through the release of these brain chemicals.

    Chinese Acupuncture Techniques for Losing Weight

    A key Chinese acupuncture technique for weight loss is ear stapling. This technique involves manipulating pressure points on the ear to control cravings for food.

    What is known as auricular acupuncture has helped cigarette smokers to quit the habit, and is also effective for people looking for an alternative to standard weight loss methods.

    When properly administered by a qualified acupuncturist, this technique can support other efforts to lose weight. One study found that ear acupuncture, combined with eating 2,000 calories and a short daily walk, produced significant weight loss.

    In the study, approximately half of those overweight individuals who underwent weekly sessions of ear acupuncture lost weight (an average of 10 lbs.). Those persons who did not receive ear acupuncture lost only 3 pounds, on average.

    What is more, the study participants who received the acupuncture treatments reported an overall decrease in appetite and food cravings.

    How Effective is Acupuncture for Weight Loss?

    weight-loss-with-acupunctureAn acupuncture treatment program for losing weight will most likely consist of a multifaceted approach. For example, your acupuncture practitioner may attempt to encourage weight loss by increasing the output of the pituitary gland.

    Acupuncture may also help to reduce cravings for certain foods. Your acupuncturist will attempt to encourage a decrease in natural appetite through specific needle placements that are thought to lower insulin and lipid levels in the blood.

    One very appealing aspect of acupuncture weight loss therapy is that there are no harmful side effects and thus there is no chance of addiction. Acupuncture serves to support other weight loss activities like exercise and calorie control by bolstering your willpower.

    How Does Acupuncture Help With Weight Loss?

    • Food Cravings: Regular acupuncture treatments can help stop food cravings, in the same way they have been shown to help with cravings for other addictive substances like alcohol and cigarettes.
    • Metabolism Regulation: Acupuncture also helps to regulate the body’s metabolism. Irregular eating, overeating and even thyroid dysfunction all contribute to a slower metabolism. Acupuncture can help to increase metabolism by stimulating the endocrine and thyroid glands while a person’s body adjusts to changes in diet and exercise. Blood sugar levels may also stabilize.

    • Better Digestion: Poor eating habits, “crash” diets and too many greasy or fattening foods all take a toll on the body’s digestive system. Chronic problems like gas, heartburn, constipation and diarrhea are all signs that one’s digestive system is out of whack. Acupuncture can help to re-harmonize the digestive organs to eliminate these problems. Proper digestion will also ensure that a person is getting the nutrients they need from the food they eat.

    • Cleansing and Detoxification: Acupuncture for weight loss treatments have the added benefit of helping to cleanse and detoxify the body’s systems. Toxins that have built up over time can lead to fatigue, acne and depression. These symptoms can be relieved or eliminated entirely with acupuncture.

    • Relaxation and Calming Effects: When acupuncture needles are inserted into the body it stimulates the release of endorphins. Endorphins have a calming and relaxing effect. Endorphins makes it easier to deal with stress, frustration and anxiety which can be the triggers for emotional and binge eating.

    In addition, people who undergo acupuncture treatments often find that they sleep better at night. This also leads to better balancing of the body’s systems.

    One important caveat: Acupuncture treatments need to be repeated on a regular basis in order to have long-term positive effects. It goes without saying that the acupuncturist has a responsibility to inform the patient that acupuncture alone is not likely to be enough to result in permanent weight loss.

    It is also important to supplement the acupuncture sessions with diet and exercise. The acupuncturist can provide the patient with dietary guidelines as to what to avoid eating in order to promote the positive flow of energy throughout the body.

    For people who have been struggling with a stubborn weight problem, acupuncture for weight loss can give their diet and exercise efforts a boost. Acupuncture combined with meditation can also be of help.

    Scientific Research Supporting Acupuncture for Weight Loss

    In recent years, scientists have provided explanations for how acupuncture supports weight loss:

    • Metabolism Boost: Auricular acupuncture (acupuncture in the ear) has been shown to temporarily increase basal metabolic rate and suppress appetite through its effects on the autonomic nervous system.
    • Decreased Abdominal Fat: A study using Magnetic Resonance Imaging showed a decrease in the storage of abdominal fat after acupuncture treatments.

    • Appetite Suppression: In experiments with mice, acupuncture had an influence on the hypothalamus and other obesity-related hormones to promote appetite suppression.

    • Insulin Resistance: Some research has shown that acupuncture is effective in addressing a condition called insulin resistance, which is related to metabolic syndrome. This may be achieved by altering the activities of the sympathetic nervous system, thus correcting the insulin signal defect

    In the May 2012 issue of Obesity Reviews, researchers carried out a detailed and systematic review of clinical studies looking at acupuncture and obesity. When compared to no treatment and pharmaceutical medications, these acupuncture studies showed:

    • Greater Weight Loss

    • Decreased Body Mass Index (BMI)

    • Decreased Weight Circumference

    At the end of the day, weight loss is a complex issue requiring a multifaceted approach. For long-term success, it’s best to focus on becoming as healthy as you can through proper nutrition, calorie reduction and a more active lifestyle. Holistic approaches like acupuncture and Chinese Medicine should thus be seen as adjunct therapies that may give you that extra little push needed to get you “over the hump” on the road to weight loss success.

    (published October 18, 2017)