Can Acupuncture Help You Lose Weight?

by Rakib Sarwar, RPh
Published on September 18, 2019

There are almost a thousand and one ways to lose weight. Sometimes traditional weight loss methods can help you see the weight loss results you desire and sometimes non-traditional methods do the magic. This explains why so many people now turn to acupuncture as a reliable weight loss technique. However, there are several things you must know about this conventional Chinese technique known as acupuncture before you decide to use it for weight loss.

Acupuncture for weight loss

A number of recent studies have assessed the relationship between weight loss and acupuncture. And according to results from these studies, the use of acupuncture as a traditional weight loss method can come with very amazing weight loss benefits.

In some research reviews to compare the use of some Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture for weight loss to some prescription drugs, the results show that these alternative methods produce almost same results as the prescription drugs (1). However, these alternative methods have fewer side effects.

So from all the researches and reviews, it can be seen that acupuncture can help you lose weight to a reasonable extent.

Using acupuncture for weight loss

You are most likely to get the best weight loss results from acupuncture if you combine it with some healthy lifestyle changes like a regular physical workout, calorie-controlled diet plan, sleep patterns, exercise, and more strategic stress management. This underscores the need to take a more comprehensive approach to weight loss.

So, what is the best technique that you can employ as a startup for the acupuncture program? First, you should consult your personal physician to ensure you are in the best health condition to start an exercise and diet plan. Your physician can also share some vital information from your medical history with your acupuncturist. Also, your physician may be in a better position to recommend the best acupuncturist he/she can work with to help you achieve overall mental and physical wellness even as you try to lose weight.

Beginning your acupuncture weight loss plan

During your first appointment with your acupuncturist, make sure you get there early enough to fill out all intake forms. These forms will include a comprehensive health history form, your fitness and wellness goals, and all other vital information. Your acupuncturist will look at your information and use it as a guide to provide the consultation you need before you start out with your acupuncture program. This consultation may involve recommending a diet plan or traditional Chinese herb to complement your weight loss program.

During the acupuncture procedure, the acupuncturist inserts very small needles at strategic points all over your body. During this procedure, most people feel neither pain nor discomfort. The feelings vary from one patient to another during the procedure. While some report a feeling of heaviness, others report a tingling sensation at the points where the needles are inserted. Once the needles are inserted, you will rest for about an hour or less with the needles inside your body, then the acupuncturist will pull out the needles one at a time and the session will be termed complete.

It is important to monitor your body reactions after your acupuncture sessions to enable you to know which activities you should schedule immediately after your acupuncture sessions. Some patients report feeling lightheaded or dizzy after this session. If you feel dizzy or lightheaded after the session, you need not get involved in any vigorous activity. If your symptoms are unusual, you may want to talk to your acupuncturist or physician.

You can develop the best plan for using acupuncture for weight loss together with your acupuncturist. The frequency of your acupuncture sessions will be determined by your budget, your schedule, and recommendations from your acupuncturist.

Most people are trying very hard to do away with all convention types of medicines and embrace natural remedies for achieving every health end. Weight loss is no exception on this one, and with the success of meditations and hypnosis in helping people get rid of a number of mental and physical ailments, attention is beginning to shift to acupuncture as a viable alternative medicine or conditions like obesity and overweight.

What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a therapy-a traditional Chinese alternative medical technique that involves stimulating acupuncture points in the human body with very tiny needles (3). This therapy is believed to help regulate the free flow of energy all through the body and can lead to an improvement in a number of mental and physical health conditions. One writer, Dr. Wayne Jonas, in his book, How Healing Works, adds that acupuncture can help activate the human nervous system and the natural painkillers in the brain (1).

Several studies have been conducted to ascertain the effectiveness of acupuncture for the treatment of conditions such as depression, anxiety, cancer, diabetes, liver or kidney diseases. And from available results from these studies, it can be seen that this technique provides relief for patients with these medical conditions (5). A new generation of acupuncture users has now channeled their energy to ascertain the effectiveness of acupuncture for weight loss following its effectiveness for the treatment of the aforementioned medical conditions.

Does acupuncture work?

There are several hypotheses as to how acupuncture works, however, one major hypothesis suggests that acupuncture works following some neurohormonal pathways (4). Basically, following the neurohormonal pathways hypothesis, the needles inserted at specific points in the body stimulate the nerve endings, and these nerve endings send out signals to the brain, and the brain, in turn, releases neural hormones responsible for the condition being treated.

With the success of acupuncture for providing very effective pain reliefs, it is not surprising that the procedure has been linked with weight loss benefits. However, its weight loss results can be enhanced when combined with important diet, lifestyle and exercise plans.

The theory behind acupuncture and weight loss

Acupuncture supports weight loss from different angles. One very important way acupuncture supports weight loss is by giving your body metabolism a very good boost by regulating your insulin production, digestion, and hormone functions.

From the Ancient Chinese Medicine viewpoint where acupuncture has its roots, the belief is that once the main organs responsible for digestion in your body does not function maximally, the metabolic ability of your body slows down (4).

Your body requires lots and lots of energy for its fat burning processes. This won’t be a problem is your metabolism is at its best. But once your metabolism slows down and your energy levels slide, your body will enter the low power mode which makes it harder for your body to burn any fats.

Stimulating specific points in your body will help rev up your body’s energy flow, and thus your body’s ability to burn any fats. This boost also does affect your appetite levels as hunger has been linked to low energy levels.

Ways acupuncture help you lose weight

The effectiveness of any alternative medical technique is linked to a number of benefits that the technique provides to the human body. The following are some ways acupuncture help you lose weight:

1. Acupuncture may regulate the production of certain important body hormones

In a study published in a Chinese medical journal, researchers found that combining acupuncture with diet and exercise helped prediabetic patients lose weight after 12 weeks. This weight loss was linked to the reduction in insulin and leptin resistance (6). Leptin and insulin are very important appetite-controlling hormones that affect weight-loss in the long run (6).

2. Acupuncture regulates digestion

Acupuncture is able to perform lots of healing tasks by simply quitting the fight-or-flight stress response. It is also able to activate the body’s rest and digest state. This is why acupuncture improves the flow of blood to your stomach, which in turn enhances digestion. Thus, acupuncture can help solve all kinds of digestive problems and give your metabolism a great boost. All these work together to hasten weight loss.

3. Acupuncture combats stress

Acupuncture can also be a very powerful stress reliever. Acupuncture is believed to release the feel-good hormones known as endorphins, and endorphins have very calming effects that help relieve stress effectively. This explains why acupuncture helps people with depression and anxiety get better within a short time. The ability of acupuncture to help you manage stress can go a long way to help you deal with your stress-induced hunger pangs and binge eating.

4. Acupuncture helps combat cravings

According to several types of research, acupuncture can help people get rid of their addictions. Most cravings and addictions that have been linked with obesity and overweight issues can be checkmated with acupuncture (6). Focusing on the acupuncture point around the ear is believed to help deal with food cravings effectively. Since food addictions lead to weight gain, acupuncture has the ability to alter the brain chemicals that stimulate these additions, and thus help combat weight loss.

According to a study published in the Australian Family Physician, almost every participant who underwent acupuncture treatment for about 2 weeks reported reduced hunger pangs and lost some considerable amount of weight afterward (1). This reduction in appetite and hunger can be linked to the release of serotonin-a feel-good chemical that helps reduce appetite through precise trigger points.

5. Acupuncture can help you sleep better at night

Acupuncture can improve the quality of your sleep by turning off your body’s fight-and-flight response. Getting enough sleep is a very important player in maintaining the overall health of your body and for keeping your weight under check. Depriving your body of quality sleep hinders the functions of your brain and go a long way to affect your ability to take very good decisions. People who are deprived of sleep are more likely to be less focused, snack on fatty foods and eat unhealthy foods more often.

6. Acupuncture can be a great energy booster

Apart from relieving stress, aiding digestion and supporting healthy sleep, acupuncture can help you feel more energized. An acupuncture-related energy boost can support your weight loss exercise regimen and diet plans. Acupuncture provides you with a very healthy calorie-free energy boost and saves you from going to sugar for some quick energy boosts.

7. Acupuncture helps reduce inflammation

According to a 2015 study, about 80 overweight people received acupuncture for 6 months while on a low-calorie diet (2). The treatment did not only help them lose weight but also reduced the level of inflammations in their bodies. These inflammations have been linked to obesity (2).

What you should know about acupuncture before you book your first appointment

The fact that acupuncture involves needles does not mean it should hurt. After all, these needles used during acupuncture sessions are no bigger than a strand of your hair. Experts recommend you get your acupuncture treatment at least once per month.

It is important you insist on finding a licensed practitioner. You must also not forget to check with your doctor to see if there is an ongoing health issue that requires medical attention, especially problems that affect your body’s central nervous system. Your doctor should be in a better position to recommend an acupuncturist and come up with the best practice to combine your exercise regimen, diet plans and acupuncture for optimum results.

Conclusion

If you have been trying to lose weight desperately, and the thought of needles do not freak you out, acupuncture can be of great help when it comes to helping you achieve the weight you want. However, relying only on the use of acupuncture may not get you the fast weight loss results you desire due to the slow pace of the therapy.

To get better results faster, make sure you make important lifestyle changes and healthy choices that can support your weight loss efforts. Some of these healthy choices include focusing on healthy eating habits, insisting on getting very quality sleep, exercising regularly and finding time to relax during the day.

References

(1) http://insightacupuncture.com/content/articles/Articles23.PDF
(2) https://www.researchgate.net/publication/10832209_Acupuncture_for_the_treatment_of_obesity_A_review_of_the_evidence
(3) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4877795/
(4) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3353309/
(5) https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/3668/da8dd655c6668d1f86f227ed47c5adb6cb8d.pdf
(6) https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD008612/media/CDSR/CD008612/rel0001/CD008612/CD008612.pdf

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