A big question I get is does acupuncture work for weight loss?
The answer I always give is yes it does, but not just acupuncture. As I reflect back on a weight loss workshop I conducted last night I’ve gained more personal insight into all the tools that we as acupuncturists have to combat the weight problems that many people have. So my goal in the workshop and in this blog post is to expose you alternatives to the norm.
Unless you’ve been living in the darkest depths of Antarctica, you’ve probably at least have heard about acupuncture. The mechanisms behind acupuncture are being researched as we speak, and even though we are quite a distance away from understanding it’s complexity entirely from a western physiological sense, we can see how powerful the medicine is and the positive effects it creates in our health.
Research on Acupuncture for Weight Loss
In a study looking at the effects of acupuncture on weight management, 60 females where separated into two weight loss groups. One group represented a perimenopausal group of individuals suffering from obesity as opposed to the other group consisting of only obese females. At the end of the study both groups exhibited a reduction in body weight, which may suggest that acupuncture can play a role in weight loss despite age.
In another study, 40 women with a body mass index (BMI) greater than 30 were randomized into two groups, acupuncture or sham. The study found that the acupuncture treatment decreased certain ezymes within the body and induced weight loss together with a reduction in BMI. The findings of the study suggests that acupuncture may help to regulate weight in obese individuals.
What other tools can Acupuncturist use for weight loss?
Ear seeds are seeds that come from a plant called the vaccaria plant. They are used not only to control cravings, but they are also used in addiction recovery, stress and anxiety, pain management, gastrointestinal problems, endocrine issues (hormones), cardiovascular problems, and other ailments. You can shower and sleep with them and they are changed out weekly or they’ll fall off on their own. They can be very effective in helping you to maintain your motivation throughout achieving your weight loss goals.
Herbs and formulas have been used in China and other parts of the world for thousands of years with minimal side effects. One great reason to see an acupuncturist for weight loss is to get natural herbs from a professional who knows about herbology, prescription drug interactions, and what herbs work specifically for your body. I have seen and heard countless times people receive recommendations on dietary supplements that don’t work, are the new “hip weight loss drug”, or recommendations from people who have never studied herbs. As acupuncturist we are responsible for every patient we see, and we know more about medicinal herbs than the “hearsay” approach.
Nutrition and Exercise
This I consider a no brainer. Both are vital components through a Chinese Medicine perspective, and both are areas that many people want to skip. However, through using an acupuncturist to help you lose weight, you learn more about a holistic method of nutrition and concepts that may be new to you. Drinking room temperature water? Improve your Stomach and spleen qi? Learning about a holistic approach to your health makes diet and exercise fun. Kick out the mindless repetition, kick in the dynamic workouts.
Enjoy the Process
Weight loss is a journey, and its a great one. I’ve been there and you have to go through it to do it. It’s disheartening sometimes to see people waste their time, money, and energy on weight loss solutions that don’t work or do more harm than good. Hopefully this gives you more insight and ways to acheive your goal to live a healthy life.
Photo credit: [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Carlo St. Juste II, MAOM has a background in acupuncture with over 10 years of clinical experience and over 16 years in the Martial Arts. He has worked with various organizations to implement employee wellness programs including The City of West Covina, The City of Brea, Broadcom, USC, American Suzuki, and Pomona College. He is dedicated to promoting integrative health and has seen the benefits of knowledge and implementation first hand.