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You’ve heard this before; a great weight loss program must incorporate exercise, proper diet, and stress-reduction techniques. Losing weight and keeping it off is certainly a multi-faceted problem and a real nightmare for most people. In their struggle to shed off excess pounds and maintain their desired weight, some people are painfully spending thousands of dollars on weight loss programs. Regrettably, a majority of them fail in their quest to lose the excess pounds and maintain great shape and health. I’ve got good news for you; the less conventional acupuncture therapy can help. Let’s explore the question- does acupuncture for weight loss work?
Western medicine is increasingly embracing acupuncture to help quell a host of ailments; including postoperative pain, chronic pain, addictions, high blood pressure, weight loss, nausea, and vomiting.
Combined with Chinese medicine and digestive aid exercises, Auricular acupuncture therapy is a wonder cure for weight loss and control. Apparently, a study by Korean researchers confirmed that acupuncture undertaken on five specific spots of the ear works best compared to treatment in helping overweight people to shed excess pounds. The procedure also gave incredible results in beating midriff bulge.
Acupuncture technique involves the insertion of fine, sterile needles on specific “energy pathways” or body points. These needles stimulate the release of the body’s natural “feel good” hormones called endorphins. This creates a relaxing, calming effect which counters the desire to eat excessively as a result of increased anxiety, stress, or frustration. In essence, acupuncture therapy can calm those feeling troubled and help them lose weight without using drugs, bingeing, or overeating fattening foods.
Acupuncture therapy is founded on the understanding that specific points on the body and ear represent all parts of the body; the internal organs included. This theory has been proven to underpin clinical treatment for overweight people in Korea.
Indeed, acupuncture is an effective way to lose, control, and maintain weight if one is willing to live a healthy lifestyle. When endorphins are released, they enhance the hormonal and digestive systems enabling acupuncture to rebalance other organ systems that are either moving too fast or in the case of the overweight, too slow: in other words, the will power and metabolism.
The Acupuncture Therapy
The acupuncture treatment begins by consulting an acupuncturist to first determine the ideal points for you, as well as identify any pattern of overeating and whether you are having any form of digestive difficulties. The acupuncturist will also check your pulse to help understand your overall energy state and stomach energy health before taking a look at your tongue for peeling, cracks, puffiness around the stomach area, or thick white/yellow coating- which would reveal heat or coldness in the stomach, giving a clue to the weight gain.
The Specific Acupuncture Points
Once the acupuncturist is armed with this information, she/he will formulate a suitable treatment protocol using a winning combination of body and ear points. The Chinese discovery of acupuncture system was centered on auricular (ear) acupuncture many years ago, as it was thought to be one of the body Microsystems containing all the points representing the rest of the organs and body parts. Later, a Frenchman called Nogier discovered more specific ear acupuncture points pertaining to Western medicine; including points referred to as “Ovary”, “Pituitary”, “Adrenal”, “FSH”, “Thyroid”, etc.
Some of the body acupuncture points necessary for weight loss treatment include:
- Mouth – for an impulsive eater who may also smoke or talk a lot
- Thyroid – for treating slow metabolism
- Hungry – for overall appetite control
- Stomach – for those who are constantly nibbling or eating even after they’re full
- Lung – for those addicted to food as well as chocolates and sweets
- Endocrine – for treating water retention known to promote weight gain
- Spleen – for hormonal disturbances and sugar imbalances
- Ovary and Adrenal – used when weight gain is a result of P.M.S or menopause
- Kidney – for nervous system, water retention, and hormonal imbalances
- Shenmen – a relaxing point, for the psychology calming patients from anger, anxiety, frustration, insecurity, etc.
An acupuncturist can use two or more of these points to treat weight loss problems based on the patient’s personality and difficulties in relation to overeating.
How Acupuncture Works?
Once the body points have been chosen, the initial treatments would most likely involve the “Four Gate” points (Liver3, LI 4) to calm the whole nervous system and circulate energy throughout the body.
Usually, the point where the stomach energy collects would be chosen for undertaking treatments as would the stomach that is three inches away from the eye of the knee which circulates blood and oxygen around the whole body and especially the stomach. Then depending on the diagnosis, the acupuncturist may add another master point for kidney, mucous, edema, or water retention.
The practitioner may sometimes use electro stimulation on specific acupuncture points to enhance the release of endorphin and stimulation of metabolism. The needles inserted would stay in place for about 30-45 minutes based on the amount of support the patient needs. Once the needles are removed, sticky ear tacs are placed in the same spot to carry on with the simulation between the acupuncture treatments.
Now this is how it works: When the patient gets the urge to eat or munch, she/he rubs the point back and forth or applies mild pressure on it for 20 seconds. This acupuncture technique will stimulate the point, causing a mild release of endorphins, hence relaxing the patient and helping them to recoup their willpower or resist the desire to eat. The patient is expected to remove the tacs after three days and throw them away as soon as possible in case of any discomfort or irritation. Since an effective weight loss program involves a lifestyle change, it will require a patient using acupuncture for weight loss to stay away from a food, place, or person that triggers the breakdown of willpower or resistance to the new diet. For instance, it would be good to distance yourself from the refrigerator or kitchen in between meals.
The Acupuncture Treatment Process
Acupuncture treatments vary for each patient and mostly depend on the patient’s main objective for weight loss, the speed and period within which they want to lose, and their dedication to maintaining the weight after loss. If the patient has a severe problem of overeating, a daily treatment for the first five days is necessary and thereafter it can be every other day during the second week and every three days from the third week.
An average patient who wants to lose five to ten pounds can undertake one treatment twice a week or every three days until she/he attains their goal. A booster treatment is appropriate once every two weeks to enhance the process.
After a couple of booster treatments, the acupuncturist and patient would mutually agree on when to reduce the frequency of the treatments and aim at performing about four times each year, especially during seasons when energy levels become unstable.
Acupuncture Benefits for Weight Loss
The idea of using acupuncture therapy to reduce and control weight is based on the view that weight gain could be triggered by unstable energy flow to and from the brain’s regulating center known as the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus maintains functional balance or “homeostasis,” which enables the body to perform its activities efficiently. The body’s dispatch center is responsible for regulating neurochemicals and hormones, besides controlling the body temperature, thirst, and hunger as well as circadian rhythm.
In this case, acupuncture has the ability to influence hormones associated with obesity. Research evaluating the effectiveness of using acupuncture for weight loss discovered that acupuncture treatments enhanced the release of ghrelin, a hormone that regulates meal initiation, metabolism, and fat storage.
The guiding theory is that acupuncture therapy can boost other weight control strategies by enhancing metabolism, curbing appetite, improving digestion, quelling cravings, enhancing nutrient use, and regulating hormones related to obesity.
Acupuncture is also effective in strengthening the functions of the liver; including production of important chemicals used in digestion, breaking down fats, and processing nutrients. In addition, acupuncture increases tone in the stomach’s smooth muscle, helping people to feel full when they are.
Abdominal and Breathing Exercises
Earlier in this post, I noted that a great weight loss program should involve diet, exercises, and reduction of stress. While a patient is undergoing acupuncture therapy and is successfully shedding off those extra pounds, it is recommended that she/he incorporates a set of abdominal and breathing exercises that make the most of energy lines or acupuncture meridians on the body so as to stimulate easy digestion and relaxation.
Sets of deep breathing while lying down for a couple of minutes first thing before rising up enhances increased intake of oxygen as well as stimulation of the kidney, spleen, stomach, and all the reproductive energy lines found at the center of the torso. Ultimately, the digestion process will be improved and the body organs will function more efficiently. That will also help you to start your day with more clarity and energy.
The abdominal finger pressure massage is another way to stimulate the organs around the stomach region. This massage is performed by following the direction of the large intestines. This simple massage can be done in bed both in the morning and in the evening and gently stimulates all the central torso’s points. This encourages proper digestion and fosters the harmonious balancing of the hormonal and endocrine body systems.
Closer Look at Auricular Acupuncture
When using auricular acupuncture for effective weight loss and control, practitioners focus on 4 acupuncture points on the ear; the stomach point, the hunger point, the endocrine point and the Shen Men point. Several very tiny and sterilized needles are inserted along the invisible paths to reduce the “heat” produced along these meridians. The needles stimulate points that prompt the release of hormones and neurochemicals, which help control food cravings. Some acupuncturists also use “ear seeds” that patients can wear while at home and which can be massaged frequently to help with especially the hard-to-control urges.
This therapy has been used successfully to help heroin addicts and cigarette smokers to kick their habits. When administered properly by a competent acupuncturists, this technique effectively helps people to lose weight.
According to a study published in Medical Acupuncture, when ear acupuncture is combined with a daily 15-minute walk and 2,000 calorie diet, it helps reduce weight. The study which included 20 obese people aged 22 to 42 found out that half of those who undertook 15-minute ear acupuncture sessions each week on average lost 10 pounds. Those who didn’t take ear acupuncture averagely lost three pounds. Furthermore, the women who received acupuncture therapy reported decreased levels of appetite.
Nutritional Diet and Lifestyle Changes
A comprehensive weight loss program incorporates appropriate exercises and nutritional advice as well as a dedication to a permanent lifestyle change. Your acupuncturist should be able to offer you nutritional counseling; including a proper diet schedule that you can adopt and maintain for a long term. A diet low in fat and high in fiber, with a moderate amount of low-fat protein and low-density carbohydrates is ideal. This kind of diet program can help a patient to avoid the temptation of yo-yo dieting or a tendency to lose weight and regain it soon after.
Another technique that can promote effective weight loss when acupuncture treatment is administered is moderate exercise regimen and stress reduction techniques. A competent acupuncturist will suggest and take you through some stress reduction techniques; including yoga, breathing exercises, meditation, Tai Chi, or biofeedback. And because a weight program is not just about losing weight, but also maintaining the loss, an exercise routine a patient is most comfortable with is the best.
A patient could start with an exercise program that involves faster walks three times a week, lasting about forty minutes. When the patient’s stamina increases after several weeks, they could try taking similar walks five times in a week. This can be followed by aerobic exercises; such as the stair climber, treadmill, cycling, aerobics classes, or other rigorous exercise the patient enjoys and which she/he can maintain for a long time.
Using free weights starting with three pound weights is also recommended as well as two to three sets of simple arm curls three times a week. Keep in mind that moderated weight training fosters lean body mass, reduces body fat, and the risk of osteoporosis besides strengthening and building the bone mass.
Pressure Point Stimulation
There are three main pressure points on the body that you can stimulate daily for approximately two minutes to help promote your overall health as well as aid with relaxation, digestion, and excretion. These include the Stomach 36 (Zusanli), Pericardium 6 (Neiguan), and the Large Intestines 4 (HEGU). These points are pressed continuously with strong pressure for about two minutes each as a self-healing therapy.
Guidance for Using Acupuncture Treatment
- Choose a qualified Acupuncturist – Keep in mind that oriental medicine and acupuncture is both an art and a science that takes many years to master. An acupuncturist must therefore be licensed as a confirmation that they have duly completed the required training and met the standards to practice. Acupuncturists can also be qualified medical doctors or medical professionals having completed a postgraduate study program.
- Complete a full course of Acupuncture treatment- For weight loss, 10 treatments taken within a few weeks deliver the best results.
- Adopt a comprehensive weight loss plan- Acupuncture treatment should be combined with an all-inclusive weight loss plan which should comprise of low calorie healthy food choices and appropriate physical exercises.
With Korean acupuncture having found its way under dieters’ skins by taking advantage of the body’s energy meridians, it’s important to note that any form of acupuncture including auricular therapy must be performed by a qualified practitioner.
As with all medical conditions, you must seek the advice of a qualified doctor before you begin an acupuncture therapy. Remember, acupuncture should be considered as a support system and not the only modality. So if you are among those looking for a quick weight loss fix, acupuncture isn’t magic. You still have to eat the right diet as well as exercise regularly.
As a self-motivated patient planning to use acupuncture for weight loss, taking the time to put into practice the ideas outlined in this post will give you results you will definitely be pleased with.