Acupuncture is a natural and drug free way of assisting people with weight loss. It is especially useful for people who struggle to lose weight despite eating healthy and exercising regularly. Jane Ma, Acupuncturist and Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner at AcuNatural Health is specially trained to assist her clients to lose weight through a specialised acupuncture program. Jane Ma is experienced in helping people with metabolic problems associated with:
- Difficulty in losing weight despite regular exercise and healthy eating
- Reduced thyroid function and metabolism
- Fluid retention
- Food cravings
- Inability to convert fat (stored energy) into energy
There are many reasons people become overweight – hormone imbalances, slowed metabolism, overeating, poor nutrition and lack of exercise are some of the most common.
How does Traditional Chinese Medicine view weight loss?
In Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture, the belief is that excessive weight gain is caused mainly by an imbalance in the body due to a malfunction of the liver and spleen organ systems.
In five-element theory of Traditional Chinese Medicine, the liver is responsible for the flow of your body’s energy known as Qi and blood (as well as your emotions). The liver’s ability to function properly and smoothly can be negatively impacted by our modern, fast-paced lifestyle and chronic stress. This can cause the spleen and whole digestive system to function poorly resulting in a decrease in metabolism and can cause some of the ‘triggers’ that lead to compulsive eating and cravings.
The spleen’s job on the other hand is responsible for the functioning of the digestive system. It ensures that the food we eat is transformed into energy otherwise known as Qi – the vital substance of life. Imbalances of the spleen will have symptoms such as slow metabolism, fatigue, a feeling of heaviness, water retention and loose stool.
How can Acupuncture help you lose weight?
Acupuncture can assist with weight loss by curbing appetite, reducing cravings, increasing metabolism, improving digestion, regulating obesity-related hormones and enhancing the way nutrients are used. Acupuncture needles inserted into specific points on the body and in the ear release endorphins. These have a calming and relaxing effect, making it easier to deal with stress, frustration and anxiety that can often trigger overeating and bingeing on fattening foods. Acupuncture can often help to remove stress from the body which is often the underlying root cause of imbalances of the digestive system and metabolism.
Ear acupuncture is a treatment that is based on the theory that the outer ear represents all parts of the body. One type uses one needle inserted into the area that is linked to hunger and appetite, while the other involves inserting five needles at different key points in the ear. Many of the points from ear acupuncture systems that are important for weight loss treatments include:
- Mouth – for the impulsive eater who may also smoke a lot and talk a lot
- Stomach – for the person who eats even after they’re full or who’s constantly nibbling
- Hungry – for general appetite acupuncture for weight loss control
- Lung – for food addicts, and people who love chocolate, sweets
- Shenmen – a calming point, for the psychology overlay for anxiety, anger, frustration, insecurity
- Endocrine – for water retention that’s responsible for some of the weight gain
- Adrenal and Ovary – if weight gain is due to menopause or P.M.S.
- Spleen – for sugar imbalances and hormonal disturbances
- Kidney – for water retention, and nervous system and hormonal imbalances
- Thyroid – for slow metabolism
The practitioner chooses two or more of these points for each treatment depending upon the patient’s problem and personality profile regarding overeating. Depending on the patients profile, other points on the body would also be selected including along the meridians of the liver, stomach and kidney. This will help to circulate and tonify the energy throughout the body, calm the nervous system and decrease oedema or water retention.
Does Acupuncture help with weight loss and is this supported by scientific research?
A growing body of research supports the use of Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese medicine in weight loss:
- A 2003 study published in The Journal of Medical Acupuncture found that participants receiving acupuncture lost more than three times more weight than the control group.
- In a research review published in 2009 scientists analysed 31 studies (with a total of 3,013 participants) and found that acupuncture was associated with a significant reduction of average body weight and improvement in obesity.
- One study, published in Medical Acupuncture, found that ear acupuncture combined with a 2,000 calorie a day diet and 15-minute walk helped reduce weight. The study involved 20 obese women, 22 to 42 years of age. Half of those who received weekly 15-minute sessions of ear acupuncture lost an average of 10 pounds. Those without ear acupuncture averaged only a three-pound loss. Moreover, the women who received the acupuncture treatments reported a decrease in appetite.
- In a study conducted by the University of Adelaide in Australia in 1998, 95% of the participants receiving electro-stimulation on acupuncture points reported appetite suppression. The results showed that the acupuncture group was more likely to experience a reduced appetite and to lose weight than the control group.
Click here to read about a case study demonstrating the success of acupuncture with assisting with weight loss.