Acupuncture for Weight Loss
Acupuncture For Weight Loss
If you have struggled with your weight, it’s likely that you’ve tried or considered every trick in the book. These days there are endless blogs, books, and recommendations floating around on the web and between friends. It can be hard (and expensive) to find your “magic pill.”
As with many health concerns, an individualized approach to weight loss often works best. Acupuncture provides this care holistically and compassionately. Because of its patient-centric take on medicine, acupuncture is an encouraging resource for either those wish to trim their waistlines or those who want a total transformation.
In contrast to the fad diets, weight loss pills, and risky surgeries of our modern age, losing weight with acupuncture can be slow and steady. It takes a long-term strategy, fixing the troublesome imbalances and issues causing excess weight gain in the first place. Not only can you win the race, but you can keep the title for years to come.
To understand how acupuncture helps with weight loss, lets delve into how practitioners of Chinese medicine view the tricky topic of weight.
The Digestive System in Chinese Medicine
Like all the body’s systems, Chinese medicine views the digestive system as an important aspect of the entire working entity. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, there are several “organs” or meridian systems involved in our metabolic processes, just as we know in the biomedical view of digestion.
The Stomach controls the intake of food. Hunger and cravings are ruled by the Stomach. Heat or dryness in the Stomach can cause increased appetite.
The Spleen system (including the pancreas) is responsible for extracting energy from the food in the Stomach to combine with energy from the air we breathe to create the force in the body known as qi. A strong Spleen system will be able to create plenty of qi from our diet and ensure that all systems have the nutrients to function properly. A weakness of the Spleen can cause slow metabolism, dampness, and water retention. A weak Spleen will also cause fatigue and lack of motivation.
The Small Intestine is responsible for parsing through the foods we eat and deciding what is useful and what should be eliminated. The Small Intestine is also considered extremely important in the enteric nervous system, commonly referred to as the “gut-brain.” Poor assimilation by Small Intestine can cause damp accumulation and weight gain. Imbalances in the Small Intestine system can lead to hormone disregulation, digestive disorders, stress, and other issues.
The Large Intestine is, as in biomedicine, related to excreting waste. A well-functioning Large Intestine organ and system will release waste, toxins, heat, and dampness from the body. Dampness, weakness, or dryness in Large Intestine can cause trouble with elimination. Poor diet will cause inflammation and blockages in the Large Intestine.
The Triple Burner is an organ unique to Chinese medicine and does not actually have a physical form. Instead, it pertains to the three distinct transformative regions of the torso: upper (chest/heart), middle (Liver/Gallbladder and Spleen/Stomach), and lower (Large Intestine, Kidneys). Its function is to regulate the transformation of fluids, nutrients, and heat throughout these areas. Among several other things, it can be likened to our metabolism and energy production. Blockages in the Triple Burner can cause poor metabolism, damp accumulation, hormone imbalance, and indigestion.
Why Do We Gain Weight?
A few of the reasons why we may gain weight are touched on above, but there are some other general reasons why our bodies put on weight (and refuse to let it go).
Phlegm and Dampness
It may seem strange to describe excess weight as phlegm – this is a term usually used to describe the mucus that collects in the Lungs and sinuses. In Chinese medicine, however, phlegm can be present in may different forms and adipose tissue (body fat) is a common example. Phlegm and dampness are basically any form of fluid in the body that has taken on a pathological form: i.e. A substance (energy, nutrients) that is no longer useful, but excess or potentially harmful.
This excess tissue builds up with poor digestive function and poor diet choices. Some of the most damp-inducing foods are fried treats, dairy (especially when eaten cold, like ice cream), processed wheat and sugar. These foods won’t necessarily cause weight gain in just anyone – each person has different digestive weaknesses. But indulging regularly on these sweet and creamy treats will likely lead to an expanding waistline.
Stress is a normal part of life. Our body’s response to stress helps us stay alert and make the best decisions for our survival. However, many of us run on a constant low-grade stress response to anything and everything. Over time, this function is no longer helpful but harmful.
The body produces a particular hormone in response to stress: cortisol. Cortisol helps us to fling into action in times of great duress. When cortisol is constantly being pumped out by our adrenal, however, it no longer serves its purpose and instead wreaks havoc on the body’s fat-storing mechanisms. Chronic cortisol production causes increased fat storage and impedes weight loss.
Hormones can play a particularly tricky part in chronic weight struggles. There are several different hormones at play: leptin, grehlin, insulin, glucagon, adiponectin, cortisol, and more (not to mention the entire thyroid system). Who is most susceptible to these imbalances? Those who get little sleep, live stressful lives, and lack the time or availability to make healthy diet choices. Women may face an even more difficult time regulating their hormones due to their nature of the body’s normal hormone fluctuations both monthly and with age.
Studies have shown that getting regular, quality sleep helps people stay trim and reach their weight loss goals. We all need sleep to function, but it’s often the first thing to suffer when life gets busy. A few nights of poor sleep won’t do much damage, but ongoing lack of sleep or late nights will only help you pack on the pounds faster.
Lack of sleep can cause a decrease in the production of the hormone, leptin. Leptin lets us know when we are full and helps to moderate our appetite. Eating right before bed might disturb your leptin levels as well, so make sure to eat a few hours before bed and get a good night’s sleep.
Acupuncture and Weight Loss
Now that you understand how Chinese medicine views the digestive system and weight gain, let’s take a deeper look at how acupuncture as a therapy that can help you lose weight and keep it off.
Acupuncture improves digestion.
When you visit the acupuncturist, you will likely be asked a series of questions about your digestion – no matter your main complaint. This is because Chinese medicine views the digestive system as a major player in the health of the entire body. It’s no surprise to an acupuncturist that the gut is considered the “second brain,” and that hundreds of seemingly unrelated diseases and syndromes may originate here as well.
Acupuncture has the unique ability to set the body’s digestive system back on track. A comprehensive look into your diet habits, health history, and vital signs will provide the needed information to get to the root of the imbalance and reestablish harmony.
With healthy digestive function, your body will be properly integrating all the useful nutrients you need while also fully eliminating all waste and toxins. The less sludge in the system, the more vibrant and energetic you will feel.
Acupuncture increases metabolism and reduces cravings.
Acupuncture also increases metabolism when it goes sluggish. This is related, as above, to acupuncture’s ability to focus on the root issue. Acupuncture balances the hormones related to weight gain, allowing the body to shed excess weight and manage hunger.
Another “superpower” acupuncture has is its ability to reduce appetite and cravings. If your weight gain stems from an insatiable appetite or strong, addictive cravings (including sugar), acupuncture can help control and silence these impulses.
Acupuncture transforms dampness.
In the treatment of weight gain, excess fat is considered dampness. Dampness is really just the symptom (or branch) of the bigger issue (the root). Thankfully, acupuncture can treat both!
Acupuncture works to help the body eliminate excess water retention and transform that unnecessary fat tissue while supporting the body’s needs. This not only helps you lose that extra weight, but also helps to prevent it from coming back again and again.
Acupuncture reduces stress.
It’s a well-known fact that acupuncture reduces stress. In fact, it both melts stress and helps your body to deal with future stressors in a more relaxed way. Any acupuncturist will tell you that to truly combat your stress, you need to make some lifestyle choices. Headspace and mentality are big players in the game of life, but acupuncture can help lead the way.
Reducing stress (and how your body responds to stress) will prevent the viscous cortisol cycle from sabotaging your goals.
Acupuncture treats the underlying issues.
As mentioned above, acupuncture shines when it comes to treating the root of the problem. Weight gain is never a stand-alone symptom; there is always an underlying issue that needs to be addressed. Taking a holistic approach with acupuncture will help you to lose weight, all while re-training your body to keep a healthy form and metabolism.
Reach Your Long-Term Weight Loss Goals with Acupuncture
The weight loss journey can be long and trying. For many, it can be quite a lonely venture and finding motivation can be tough at times. Fortunately, acupuncture can help fill in the gaps and keep you on your target.
Acupuncture helps to speed up the weight loss process, fixes the deeper imbalances, and prevents future weight gain. Over the course of treatment, you will become a better sleeper and manage stress better than ever before. Perhaps more importantly, it also offers a holistic, personal, transformative resource to keep your spirit high and positive during the journey. The treatment itself is very relaxing (both body and auricular acupuncture is commonly used) and can become a truly enjoyable part of your weight loss plan.
If you have struggled with excess weight or yo-yo dieting, consider adding the support of acupuncture into your weight loss routine. It’s time to get back to your best self, naturally.
Call us at 773.878.7330 and speak to one of our expert team members today.