Acupuncture—the Eastern practice of using super-thin needles to stimulate strategic points on your body—has an interesting health reputation. Traditional practitioners believe the ancient alternative medicine can help rebalance your body’s energy (called “qi”) by directing its flow.
That may sound a little out-there, but even modern-day docs think the teeny needles might help stimulate nerves and muscles to help relieve pain, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. In fact, an extensive body of research suggests the natural treatment can help ease headaches, back pain, neck pain, PMS, and osteoarthritis.
Scientists are only beginning to understand all of the benefits acupuncture has to offer, and recent studies have been exploring the therapy beyond its ability to manage pain. Among its growing list of potential uses? Weight loss.
It’s not your typical fat loss prescription, so how exactly could those tiny pricks drop the number on your scale? We talked to an acupuncturist and an obesity doc to find out.
- What’s the theory behind acupuncture and weight loss?
- But what does science say about acupuncture and weight loss?
- So, can acupuncture really help you lose weight?
- Should you try acupuncture for weight loss?
- Does Acupuncture for Weight Loss Really Work?
- How acupuncture for weight loss can be effective by reducing stress, cravings, and achieving overall health goals.
- Can Stress Prevent Weight Loss?
- Acupuncture for Weight Loss
- Contact Us
- Can Acupuncture Help You Lose Weight?
- Can Acupuncture Really Help Promote Weight Loss?
- Traditional Chinese Medicine and Weight Loss
- Potential Side Effects of Acupuncture
- Cost of Acupuncture For Weight Loss
- Keep it Balanced and Keep it Simple and Make Changes Slowly!
- What is a simple and pure diet?
- How do I keep from overeating?
- These tried and true health habits should help you to lose weight, feel better, have more energy, and say goodbye to sugar and carbohydrate cravings.
- Combat Your Food Cravings
- Is acupuncture really the next weight loss miracle? Find out here.
What’s the theory behind acupuncture and weight loss?
Here’s the claim: “Acupuncture supports weight loss from many different angles,” says Jennifer Oh, MS, an acupuncture practitioner in New York. One of the most important ways, she says, is by giving your metabolism a boost by helping regulate your digestion, insulin, and hormones.
From the Chinese Medicine perspective in which acupuncture is rooted, the idea is that when your major digestive organs aren’t functioning at 100 percent, your metabolism can get sluggish.
Your body needs to use a lot of energy to burn fat, which isn’t a big deal if your metabolism is chugging along smoothly. But “if your metabolism is affected and your energy is low, your body goes into what I call ‘low power mode,’” says Oh. This makes it harder to drop pounds.
Stimulating specific trigger points on your body can be like “little on-off switches” for various systems in your body, Oh explains. Flipping them on theoretically revs your flow of energy, and subsequently, your ability to burn fat.
This boost can also help suppress appetite, says Oh. “Hunger is a sign you are low in energy,” she says, so when those levels become more stable, you shouldn’t feel as ravenous.
But what does science say about acupuncture and weight loss?
Researchers have some other theories behind acupuncture’s link to weight loss.
🔥Acupuncture might reduce inflammation.
In one small 2015 study, 80 obese people received three to six months of acupuncture while eating a low-calorie diet. Not only did the treatment help them lose weight, but it also reduced the amount of inflammation in their bodies, which studies have linked to obesity.
In a similar study, researchers split 161 obese people into two groups: one received authentic acupuncture while the other got a sham treatment. Both groups ate a low-calorie diet. After assessing their progress six and 12 weeks later, they discovered that while both groups lost weight, only those who received the authentic acupuncture saw improvements in certain inflammatory markers.
🍕Acupuncture may tamp down your hunger.
In a study of 60 overweight people published in Australian Family Physician, nearly all of the participants who used an acupuncture simulation device for two weeks reported a lower appetite and lost weight after, while a control group didn’t notice any similar effects. This could be due to the release of serotonin—a mood-boosting chemical that has been linked to lowering your appetite—through specific trigger points, the study authors note.
A more recent pilot study published in BMJ Open Gastroenterology found that just one week of acupuncture also lowered levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin. The study was small and only included 10 people, so more research needs to be done to fully understand how acupuncture impacts our hunger hormones.
😌Acupuncture could improve your mood.
“Other theories explain the benefits of acupuncture on hormones such as cortisol and oxytocin, both of which affect weight and appetite,” explains Nancy Rahnama, MD, a board-certified bariatric physician.
While research suggests that higher levels of cortisol—also known as the stress hormone—is associated with weight gain, studies exploring acupuncture’s ability to reduce cortisol levels are mixed.
Then there’s the potential effect on your endorphins, says Dr. Rahnama. “It has been explained that acupuncture stimulates the nervous system to increase the release of endorphins, which can help decrease the appetite and improve the mood,” she says. Since feeling happier could make emotionally-driven junk food binges less common, the practice could, in theory, lead to weight loss that way.
So, can acupuncture really help you lose weight?
While the research is limited and the evidence is mixed, it is compelling, says Dr. Rahnama. However, that’s not enough to say that acupuncture can be used a legit treatment for obesity.
Plus, there’s one major caveat: The treatment only seems to be effective when used in conjunction with traditional weight loss methods that are proven to work, like a healthy eating plan and exercise. “When done correctly, acupuncture is a great supplement to a weight loss program, as patients have noticed decrease in appetite, improved mood, and decrease in stress,” Rahnama says. “However, acupuncture should not be the sole treatment for obesity.”
You could technically chalk up any pounds lost to the placebo effect—but that doesn’t necessarily mean the treatment isn’t worth trying. “I say that any positive effect can help, whether it is placebo or not,” says Dr. Rahnama.
Should you try acupuncture for weight loss?
If you’re trying to lose weight—and you aren’t freaked out by needles—acupuncture can be a part of a larger slimdown strategy. However, “relying on acupuncture alone can be a slow process, and thus, discouraging,” says Oh.
She recommends thinking of acupuncture treatments like personal training sessions—you’ll get much better results if you make healthy choices that support weight loss in other areas of your life. Outside of acupuncture, you should exercise regularly, focus on healthy eating habits, get quality sleep, and find some time to relax each day.
“Natural, sustainable weight loss and healthy metabolism function involve a multidimensional mind-body-spirit understanding of the ways in which your emotions, beliefs, lifestyle, energy, and food all affect your body,” says Oh. Before you commit, make sure your acupuncturist values addressing all those factors—not just the idea of a cure-all poke.
Does Acupuncture for Weight Loss Really Work?
July 2, 2019 | By Physio Logic
How acupuncture for weight loss can be effective by reducing stress, cravings, and achieving overall health goals.
By: Dr. Allison Heffron, Acupuncturist & Chiropractor
Many people are looking for the magic pill for weight loss and unfortunately it doesn’t exist. Just like most good things, losing weight doesn’t come easy and honestly it shouldn’t. Weight is just like the pain signal. It’s there to show us that there is something wrong with how we are treating ourselves or that there is an imbalance in the body that needs to be addressed. Now, this post is NOT about fat-shaming, and everyone who lives a healthy life should be proud of their bodies, even if they’re not a glamour magazine model. This post is for those of you who are struggling to take care of yourselves, are unhappy about your body, feel unhealthy, and want to know what to do to make a change and how using acupuncture for weight loss can help.
Firstly, let’s talk about goals for weight loss. When you set up an achievable goal you should begin with something small. Many small goals add up to one big outcome because math.
Small goals can include losing 5-10 lbs in 1-2 months. Typically, losing 1-1.5 lbs a week is a healthy way to lose weight. Now, how do you go about it? Before revamping your entire diet it may be easier to compromise a few things first.
Going cold turkey rarely ever works and, again, you want to set yourself up for success by changing a little at a time. If you eat 5 junk food snacks a day try to substitute 1-2 for something healthy and once that becomes routine then substitute another. Making things become routine is a very good way to make healthier choices become a lifestyle.
Aside from diet there is activity. Activity does not automatically mean run a half marathon or go to the gym 5 days a week. Find something you truly enjoy whether it be CrossFit, walking, rock climbing, cycling, weightlifting, whatever it is just try to do it at least once a week. Once it becomes routine you can add another day and then another day.
Can Stress Prevent Weight Loss?
The effects of high Cortisol levels
When you are on a transformation journey it can be very stressful and acupuncture can help let your mind rest. It is very important to give yourself a break and not be so hard on yourself, but alas, that is easier said than done to do on your own.
When you stress yourself out you release a hormone, cortisol, which actually inhibits weight loss, so stressing yourself out will just make it harder for you to achieve your goals. Having acupuncture helps decrease the production and release of cortisol to help calm your mind and body.
Acupuncture for Weight Loss
Acupuncture is also helpful in the actual act of weight loss. If you are a new patient your acupuncturist may ask you a number of questions regarding the different systems of your body (i.e. your digestive system, circulatory system, sleep, menstrual cycle, etc.).
The reasoning behind this is to paint a very detailed picture of how your body is functioning and how it needs to be supplemented in order to help it function optimally.
The body undergoes a lot of stress on a daily basis, however, when you are making lifestyle changes it can jolt your system into a, “What is going on!? What are you doing to me!?” frenzy and that is where acupuncture can really help with keeping everything as balanced as possible while undergoing positive changes.
There is a whole “microsystem” of acupuncture points in the ear that are meant to help decrease addiction cravings in addition to needles being inserted in areas around the entire body.
When you make the decision to go into a lifestyle transformation, make sure you have a great support system and all the tools you need to succeed. Patience, small and achievable goals, patience, maybe a buddy to work with who is in it just as much as you are, patience, an acupuncturist, and I don’t think patience was mentioned, so patience. Make sure you pause and be proud of your successes no matter how small. Our bodies, regardless of the size, are incredible machines, so guide it appropriately and over time the positive changes will reveal themselves.
If you’re interested in learning more about acupuncture for weight loss, reach out to our Acupunturist, Dr. Allison Heffron. You can start by filling out the form below or you can give us a call.
CATEGORIES : Acupuncture
Can Acupuncture Help You Lose Weight?
First off, there are no large, controlled, randomized studies backing the idea of acupuncture for weight loss.
So why the buzz?
There are two points in the ear traditionally associated with appetite. A 2017 review found 18 randomized controlled studies of ear acupuncture for weight loss, though not big ones—the largest had 200 subjects. Most of the volunteers were middle-aged Asian women. All in all, this review concluded that ear acupuncture was linked to an average loss of about 3 lbs. Treatments that went on longer than six weeks had the best results.
Weight loss science is buzzing with research linked to the microbiome, the bacteria in your guts. Bacteroidetes may be the bad guys, and one study found that acupuncture reduced them. Forty-five overweight or obese women in Shanghai were randomly split into three groups, including a control group that got no treatment. The other two groups received 20 acupuncture treatments focused on the abdomen for a half-hour, every other day. The points were the same for both groups, but executed by different doctors.
The results: In the 30 women who received acupuncture, the average BMI dropped from close to 28 at the beginning to a bit over 25, while the control group didn’t change much. Also, the team found the favorable changes in the gut flora in the treated groups but not the controls. Despite all the press about probiotics, we don’t yet have reliable ways of changing our gut flora.
There is some data suggesting that electroacupuncture is more effective than needles alone for weight loss, according to another overview.
The first written account of acupuncture dates to 100 B.C. in China. Traditional Chinese medicine posited that the needles prompt the body to release a flow of energy, called “qi,” which travels through “meridians.” By the early 20th century, doctors at the Chinese Imperial Medical Academy no longer studied acupuncture. Mao revived it as cheap solution for an underserved population.
Western research has found acupuncture moderately effective to treat pain, better than sham acupuncture in which the needles don’t pierce the skin, for example. The Western explanation: the needle stimulates a nerve, which sends a signal to the brain to release beta-endorphins. These are the feel-good chemicals that lower pain thresholds. Another theory has it that acupuncture changes cells in connective tissue around the pressure points in lasting ways that lead to less pain.
But these explanations don’t address why needling in your ear would affect your appetite or your gut flora.
Remember that keeping the weight off is the biggest challenge, one that weight-loss studies don’t address. You’ll still need to consume fewer calories long-term. If acupuncture relaxes you and reduces pain, that’s a plus. Being anxious can lead to overeating—as too many of us discover for ourselves! Also if you ever skip exercise because of a pain issue, acupuncture could help keep you moving. In addition, there’s some evidence that acupuncture lowers inflammation, which is related to both pain and obesity.
A version of this story appears on Your Care Everywhere.
By Alex A. Kecskes
Acupuncture has experienced a steady increase in popularity of the past 40 years. In 2014, over 10 million acupuncture treatments were administered in the United States alone, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). With a growing body of scientific studies showing acupuncture’s effectiveness in providing pain relief, researchers and health practitioners have been actively engaged in a quest to understand the full potential of acupuncture for weight loss.
Can Acupuncture Really Help Promote Weight Loss?
Recent studies have shown that when acupuncture is combined with traditional methods of weight loss, patients lose more weight. In these cases, one to three acupuncture weight loss sessions can be safe and effective in helping people achieve reasonable weight loss goals.
It’s a staggering fact that as many as a quarter of all Americans are overweight. In their struggle to lose those excess pounds, Americans spend over 33 billion dollars every year on weight-loss programs. Regrettably, a whopping 95 percent fail in their attempt to lose the weight they need to maintain good health. Fortunately, acupuncture can be effective for losing weight.
Acupuncture involves the insertion of very fine, sterile needles at specific body points or “energy pathways.” The inserted needles act to stimulate the release of endorphins, the body’s natural “feel good” hormones. This can create a calming, relaxing effect, which counteracts the need for excessive eating brought about by increased stress, frustration or anxiety. In this respect, acupuncture can calm those so afflicted and help them lose weight without resorting to drugs.
Traditional Chinese Medicine and Weight Loss
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the belief is that excessive weight gains are caused mainly by an imbalance in the body due to a malfunction of the spleen and liver organ systems. Skilled acupuncture practitioners will zero in on specific body areas to effect weight loss. Among these are the endocrine system and kidneys, which are addressed to treat water retention and to stimulate nerve and hormonal rebalance. The spleen and thyroid gland are also targeted to effect sugar and hormonal rebalancing. Finally, the adrenal and ovary glands are included to treat weight gain due to menopause or Premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Some people notice the effects of acupuncture fairly quickly and only require treatments every other week.
Another Chinese acupuncture practice for losing weight is ear stapling. This involves manipulating points on the ear to control food cravings. Auricular acupuncture or ear acupuncture has been used successfully to help cigarette smokers and heroin addicts kick their drug habits. When properly administered by a qualified acupuncturist, ear acupuncture may help some people lose weight. 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.
Interested in becoming a certified acupuncture professional? Visit the campus web site nearest you:
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The effect of acupuncture on a client’s emotions also plays an important role in aiding weight loss. Acupuncture affects the neuroendocrine system by blocking harmful neurochemicals to restore the natural balance of hormones and neurotransmitter levels. The resulting release of endorphins helps to reduce stress, which in turn helps to prevent the urge to overeat.
Potential Side Effects of Acupuncture
The potential side effects of acupuncture include soreness, fatigue and muscle spasms. With the hormone levels and bodily processes changing, it is common to feel sore and exhausted. Often times, the nerve simulation caused by acupuncture will continue after the needles have been removed. However, the muscle tremors should be gone within a day or two. The side effects can also be emotional.
It is important to note that acupuncture treatments must be administered by a qualified acupuncturist. For the best results, these treatments should be combined with a reduced calorie diet and appropriate physical exercise. The critical point to be made here is that acupuncture should be viewed as a support system not a sole modality.
Cost of Acupuncture For Weight Loss
The national average cost of acupuncture for an initial exam and evaluation can cost between $75 and $100. Acupuncture prices from a fully certified acupuncture practitioner for treatments for weight loss can vary from $50 to $90 per session depending on your location and the expertise of your acupuncturist.
|National Average Cost for Certified Acupuncture Practitioner||$75|
As with all medical conditions, always seek the advice of a doctor before beginning any acupuncture treatments for weight loss.
Chinese acupuncture is finally getting under the skin of dieters by tapping into the body’s many hidden energy meridians. The ancient practice of acupuncture helps to heal a host of ailments, and practitioners of Western medicine now embrace it to quell chronic pain, postoperative pain, nausea and vomiting, high blood pressure, addictions and weight loss. When fine needles are barely inserted into the skin along strategic points on the body it can restore balance to the flow of energy along rivers of Qi (pronounced chee), or life force.
There are many reasons people become overweight – hormone imbalances, slowed metabolism, overeating, poor nutrition and lack of exercise are some of the most common.
Using acupuncture to tackle weight loss is a multi-pronged approach.
Pinning Down the Benefits
The rationale for using acupuncture for weight control is based in the premise that weight gain could be the result of disturbed energy flow to and from the regulating center of the brain, called the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is responsible for maintaining “homeostasis” or functional balance that allows the body to run like a finely tuned instrument. It is the body’s dispatch center that regulates hormones and neurochemicals, and helps to control body temperature, circadian rhythm, thirst and hunger.
Of particular interest is the ability of acupuncture to influence obesity hormones. Research measuring the effectiveness of acupuncture for weight loss found treatments increased ghrelin, a hormone that controls meal initiation and decreased leptin, the hormone that regulates fat storage and metabolism.
The guiding principal is that acupuncture can power up any other weight control strategy by curbing appetite, quelling cravings, boosting metabolism, improving digestion, regulating obesity-related hormones and enhancing the way nutrients are used. It also strengthens the function of the liver, the organ that produces many chemicals critical for digestion, processing nutrients and breaking down of fats. Acupuncture may also increase tone in the smooth muscle of the stomach to help people know that they are full.
Earmark of Acupuncture
To pinpoint the Qi for effective weight control, acupuncturists take aim at 4 acupuncture points on the ear – the hunger point, Shen Men point, stomach point, and endocrine point. A few tiny sterilized needles are inserted along these invisible channels to decrease the “heat” generated along these meridians and to stimulate centers that trigger the release of neurochemicals and hormones.
During some courses of treatment, the needles are covered with tape so that they can be left in place for a few days. Patients later remove them at home or during follow-up visits to the acupuncturist. Some practitioners may also use “ear seeds” that patient wear home that can be massaged periodically to help with difficult-to-control urges.
Guidance For Using Acupuncture For Weight Loss
- Choose a qualified practitioner – Most states require that acupuncturists be licensed to assure that they have completed the necessary education and training standards to practice. You may see L.Ac. (licensed acupuncturist) following his or her name. Acupuncturists may also be medical doctors or other medical professional who have completed a postgraduate program of study.
- Complete a full course of treatment – Acupuncture for weight loss is best achieved with 10 treatments delivered over a few weeks.
Follow a comprehensive weight-loss plan – Acupuncture should be used alongside a comprehensive weight-loss plan, like the Dr. Oz Diet that includes healthy food choices coupled with exercise.
- Don’t Confuse Treatments — Although ear stapling is loosely based on the concept of acupuncture, it is an imprecise method that uses surgical staples that penetrate the cartilage of the ear, which is know to promote infection.
Other Weight Loss Methods:
Dr. Oz’s Two-Week Rapid Weight Loss Plan
Dr. Oz’s 100 Best Weight Loss Tips
“What should I eat?”, “What kinds of food will help me lose weight?” and “How long do I have to do this diet for?” These are common questions that people have when considering diet options. The answer is that, in order to create and maintain healthy habits that will hopefully last a lifetime:
Keep it Balanced and Keep it Simple and Make Changes Slowly!
Chinese medicine is all about balance and this is the key word to remember when thinking about how you nourish your body. The most important things to keep in mind with the Chinese diet are:
- Keep the diet as simple and pure as possible. Try to eat things that come directly from the earth and that do not have a label.
- Eat at regular times throughout the day and enjoy what you’re eating.
- Maintain a constant variety.
- Be mindful of overeating.
- And, most importantly, the key is to do everything in moderation, including moderation.
What is a simple and pure diet?
In traditional Chinese health care practices, food has always been used to prevent disease, strengthen the body and prolong life. The Chinese advocate simple, uncomplicated and light diets. Think of the poor man’s diet – not a lot of sweet, salted, processed, greasy, or rich tasting foods. It means eating “simple” foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds with small bits of meat (think Chinese food). This also means small amounts of dairy foods, without pesticides, chemicals, or hormones, and with the full fat – just like your grandmother used to eat. The full fat dairy is more balanced and therefore more nutritious than its low and no-fat counterparts, because it is in the whole, untouched form, the way nature intended it to be. It’s ok to eat dairy, but most people shouldn’t eat very much of it – once a day is a safe bet. Chinese dietary therapy suggests that those struggling with unwanted weight should try to avoid foods which tend to be damp and phlegm-producing, like dairy. Other foods that can create unwanted phlegm (which in Chinese medicine, also turns into fat) are: bananas, excess citrus fruits, peanut butter, sugars, sweet foods, and soy foods. It is important to eat and drink foods that are mostly warm, cooked, and easy to digest, that are lightly flavored with herbs and spices, which will further aid in promoting digestion (again, not too spicy!) This means smoothies, salads, and cold drinks only in the summer and always in moderation! Cold and raw things in the stomach, will lead to a “dampening” of the digestive system and a chilling of the metabolism. This digestive “fire” or energy in Chinese medicine can, over time, be put out when too many cold things are put in it. This also chills your body and slows down your circulation. Scientifically speaking, cold inhibits enzymatic activity and your foods won’t get assimilated and properly used. And lastly, purchase organic foods as much as possible – especially your meats and dairy items.
How do I keep from overeating?
It may sound overly simplified, or it may sound impossible but this point can’t be emphasized enough. Make sure that you dine at regular times and keep the times between meals neither too short nor too long. Having somewhat fixed meal times will help your body maintain some sort of “intake control” and keep you from both excessive hunger or fullness and excessive eating and drinking. Keeping the interval times between meals or snacks consistent is one of the most important principles in making sure you make the healthiest food choices. When you wait too long to eat, you are more likely to choose sweet, fatty, heavy foods and overeat them at that. Chinese medicine actually views being too full or too hungry as being harmful to one’s health. If you can try to always maintain a 70% fullness, you will feel the most energetic you can feel.
Another way to avoid overeating is to keep your diet interesting. By choosing foods of different varieties in colors, tastes, and textures, (and in season as much as possible), your body will be the most balanced and satisfied and you will less likely be caught grazing on snacks to fill you up. Taste and color are especially important because the nutrition found from certain tastes or colors actually sends nutrition via the acupuncture pathways to specific organs of the body. For example, a bitter green like kale is truly a super food because from a Chinese nutrition perspective, it will nourish the heart because of its bitter flavor, it will nourish the liver because of the color and it will nourish the kidneys because of its rich mineral content and it’s “bone-like” stems (the bones are related to the health of the kidneys in Chinese medicine).
While you are eating, concentrate on eating with a good mood, slowly, enjoying every bite. Always make sure you eat while you are sitting down and not doing anything but eating. This will keep you from overeating as you mindlessly snack while you are standing in front of the refrigerator, watching TV, reading or driving. These things are very important because the digestion and assimilation of our food is so easily impaired by stress, eating too fast and overeating. Chinese medicine focuses a great deal on optimizing and improving the digestion when treating patients who want to lose weight, therefore prevention of any kind of digestive impairment is a crucial piece of the puzzle. A way to help get your digestion and metabolism kick-started after eating, especially in the middle of the day, is to give your belly a rub and then try to walk a hundred steps before sitting back down again. Regular exercise helps to get the circulation flowing and aids in peristalsis by moving the foods and fluids down and out for excretion. Exercise warms the body up the same way that blowing on a dying fire can rekindle a flame and helps to transform the excess fat (the Chinese refer to this as phlegm). The Chinese word for transformation of phlegm is “hue” and this means to melt. Exercise literally helps to melt our fat way!
These tried and true health habits should help you to lose weight, feel better, have more energy, and say goodbye to sugar and carbohydrate cravings.
Avoid sweets altogether. I know it may sound hard and possibly a bit too drastic, but I assure you that getting rid of the sweet stuff is probably one of the best things you can do for your health. Too many sweet foods in the diet can cause a myriad of health complaints and problems ranging from headaches, menstrual cramps, and digestive problems to even more serious problems such as high cholesterol and diabetes. If you have a major sweet tooth, you’ll need to realize that you are addicted to sugar and can have signs of withdrawal such as fatigue, headaches and mood swings when you are trying to cut back. The key is to taper down slowly and to follow all of the other suggestions listed below to lessen those side effects. When I say to avoid sweets altogether, I’m even referring to all those popular new sugar alternatives you see on the market. The reason is, when you taste something sweet, even if it’s “faux” sweet, it can trigger the desire for more sweets. Allow yourself to really taste and appreciate the natural tastes of foods. If that doesn’t help, a little bit of cinnamon, allspice, and vanilla extracts (or other flavored extracts) can help to satisfy a sweet tooth. A dash of cinnamon and a drizzle of vanilla over a bowl of fruit and plain or vanilla yogurt can be a delicious dessert. And, if you’re having a really difficult time like most people, try this little herbal trick: Chew on some leaves of a plant called “Gymnema sylvestre”. You’ll want to apply it directly to your tongue, chew it for about 20 seconds and then swallow it. What happens is: the anti-sweet saponin property of the plant will temporarily alter the way you experience the taste of sweets so that you won’t want to eat them for a while and that will give your craving a chance to pass! You can get the leaves at the health food store or we carry a liquid extract of this plant that you can use in the same way.
Never skip Breakfast. When you eat in the morning, your body keeps the appetite stimulating neurotransmitters in check and this helps to keep you from overindulging or choosing the wrong foods later (and subsequently have an energy crash). See our sample meal plan for some ideas.
Cut the caffeine. A daily cup of tea or coffee is fine – and there is actually plenty of research that supports the various health benefits of both, more than one cup can be dehydrating, raise blood pressure, cause symptoms of anxiety, and ultimately deplete you of your energy. Remember, everything in moderation.
Drink more water! When you’re dehydrated, your kidneys can’t filter out wastes very effectively and this will make you feel tired and possibly reach for more food as energy when all you need is more water. Dehydration can also lower blood pressure and cause you to have more food cravings. Nutrition experts tell us that one of the best ways to keep any kind of food craving at bay is to stay well hydrated. In addition, if you eat more water-dense foods like fruits and vegetables, this will lead keep you more satisfied and keep your cravings to a minimum. Eat more soups as well (see below).
Detox once a year. Toxins can easily build up in every system of the body, from the digestive to the endocrine, and this keeps us from functioning optimally by literally weighing and slowing our bodies down. This can lead to things like fatigue, chronic infections, poor immunity, and overall poor outlook on life. Every body needs a spring cleaning. Ask us about our ultimate cleansing and detoxification program for details.
Eat protein with every meal. Our bodies digest proteins more slowly than fats and carbohydrates, and this makes you feel full faster and keeps you fuller, longer. Try to eat lean proteins (like chicken and lean cuts of other meats, fish, lentils, beans, and tofu), as well as nuts, seeds, and eggs. A recent study from the International Journal of Obesity found that eating two eggs a day for breakfast helps you lose 65% more weight and gain more energy than a bagel of equal calories. Why is this? Eggs give you a large dose of protein and some fat in just a small amount of calories. For people with high cholesterol, who otherwise have a healthy low-fat diet this should not be a problem. They should still eat the yolks – which have most of the protein and important antioxidants that help your eyesight, just don’t consume eggs more than 3 times a week.
Eat vegetables with every meal. Vegetables are a natural source of fiber, which is important for filling you up. They help you to feel full and satisfied for longer periods than foods without the fiber. In addition to this, you should really start to think of vegetables as super foods because they have more vitamins and minerals than anything else you could eat. Giving your body all the essential vitamins and minerals it needs will keep you from feeling unsatisfied after a meal and from seeking out snacks to try to satisfy the whatever it is your body is looking for. (see handout for ways to further control those cravings).
Eat more green foods. One of my Chinese teachers who is an expert in the field always says that Americans are sorely missing out on their greens and should eat more of them to lose weight. Again, it has to do with all those yummy vitamins, minerals and fiber they contain.
Eat healthy fats with almost every meal. Healthy fats include extra virgin olive oil, flax oil or seeds, organic coconut oil, organic butter (Yes! it’s true), organic ghee, avocados, unsalted nuts, and eggs. Fats are good for us, just so long as they are not from a restaurant (many restaurants use poor quality, trans-fat oils), are not in excess, and are organic and fresh. They aid in digestion and they help you to absorb the vitamins and minerals from all the vegetables you are eating!
Eat fewer carbohydrates than you are used to eating. When you change your diet to include at least one vegetable and a protein with every meal, and a little bit of fat, you might be shocked to notice how little room there is on your plate and in your stomach for the carbohydrates.
Eat Low glycemic “load” foods. There is a lot of talk about carbohydrates; some people think that a high carb diet is the way to go, while others believe that it is NOT the way to go. There is a startling array of evidence out there to support the fact that for most people a low carbohydrate diet is the best way to lose weight and keep it off for good. This does not mean that you can’t eat plenty of carbohydrates and must go around feeling deprived all the time. If you follow the other guidelines and dietary suggestions that are listed on this handout, you will not have that problem. This means finding a balance between eating foods that are high in protein, high in fiber (i.e., fruits and vegetables), contain some fat, and contain some carbohydrates at every single meal. Your body should feel much more satisfied than it would be if you consumed more carbohydrates. You will be so happy, because you are somehow feeling very satisfied with what you are eating and you are losing weight. So what does the glycemic “load” mean? This will be discussed at one of your nutrition appointments and you will receive a handout that can be used as a guide. Generally speaking, low glycemic load foods include almost any kind of vegetable you want to eat, most fruits, and whole grain, unprocessed, and unrefined flours.
Eat two servings of fruits a day. The reason I suggest only two serving is that you have to remember that fruits contain sugar and some of them are somewhat high in carbohydrate count. Most people already get way too many sugars and carbs through unseen, hidden ways in their diet, so it best just to be aware that you really need to concentrate on eating more vegetables than fruits. Fruits, however, have so many healthy benefits including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties (just like vegetables I might add), that it is important not to discount eating fruits like watermelon and bananas altogether – you just don’t want to eat too much of them.
Eat more Soups. This is another great way to help keep your appetite in check. Here is an excerpt taken from an article written by health writer Jack Challoner: “Appetite is one of the most researched areas of weight-loss science. Unfortunately, the appetite system is complex, and still poorly understood. Scientists have used ultrasound and MRI scans of people’s stomachs to investigate what happens after eating solid-food-plus-water meals compared with the same food made into soup. After you eat a meal, the pyloric sphincter valve at the bottom of your stomach holds food back so that the digestive juices can get to work. Water, however, passes straight through the sphincter to your intestines, so drinking water does not contribute to “filling you up”. When you eat the same meal as a soup, the whole mixture remains in the stomach, because the water and food are blended together. The scientists’ scans confirm that the stomach stays fuller for longer, staving off those hunger pangs. The stomach gradually empties, more slowly for the soup than the solid meal plus water.”
Eat natural Salt. Keep the bad-for-you salt in check by avoiding potato chips, processed foods, and canned soups. And throw out your iodized table salt! Choose healthy salt sources from mineral rich kosher salt, sea salt, Himalayan salt, or Celtic salt. Natural sea salts have over 80 trace minerals in them. People actually need approximately 1 tsp of good quality salt each day. (Again, NOT TABLE SALT which contributes to the raising of blood pressure). Did you know that seaweeds can help you to maintain a health weight too? This is because they help to balance the water metabolism and have lots of trace minerals in them too. You can cook with seaweeds, eat them as a snack (try kelp if you’re a salt lover), and powder them to sprinkle on foods.
Eat frequent meals. When you are able to eat smaller, frequent meals throughout the day, this helps to prevent low blood sugar, which can cause dramatic food cravings and overeating. But remember to still balance each meal out with a little bit of food combining. Think of pairing low glycemic carbohydrates (like fruits, vegetables, and whole grain), with healthy fats (olive oil, avocado, nuts, seeds) and of course, protein.
Exercise. When you’re feeling tired, this is often the last thing you feel like doing. However, research shows that even if you just get your body moving for about 20 minutes, the exercise actually helps to release endorphins, which will boost your mood, your energy and your metabolism.
Consider getting food allergy testing. It’s possible you could be allergic to something you eat, and not even know it. If you are always tired and feel sluggish, it would be helpful to see which foods are causing the problems so that you can avoid them. Sometimes even just food intolerances, and not a full blown allergy, can lead to chronic inflammation in the body which gives people a very wide range of symptoms and can be the root of other major health problems.
You still need to Supplement. Even people with the healthiest of diets, will benefit from food-based nutritional supplements. This has to do with the fact that the soil our food is grown in is much more depleted and toxic than it ever has been and our food is simply not as fresh and nutritious as it used to be. Not to mention that people nowadays spend about a third of the time or less than they used to in preparing healthy meals, and much of the modern diet revolves around pre-packaged or prepared foods which are much less nutrient-dense then they ought to be.
Read all of your food labels. Word to the wise – for all the packaged foods that you do have to buy, read the labels, ask questions, and avoid ‘high fructose corn syrup’ and ‘hydrogenated oils’ like the plague! These ingredients are found in most conventional, packaged products. Try to buy the natural or organic versions of these products as much as you possibly can. For example, conventional ketchup found at the grocery store contains high fructose corn syrup, but the organic version of that product does not.
Combat Your Food Cravings
Do you find yourself, after eating a wonderful meal still needing to have dessert? Do you “need” to have a soda with dinner? These food cravings are trying to tell your body that something is missing from your diet. Listed below are some of the nutrients that your body could be trying to get and some healthy food choices that you should be eating instead.
TUESDAY, Dec. 17, 2013 (HealthDay News) — Placing five acupuncture needles in the outer ear may help people lose that spare tire, researchers report.
Ear acupuncture therapy 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.
“If the trend we found is supported by other studies, the hunger acupuncture point is a good choice in terms of convenience. However, for patients suffering from central obesity, continuous stimulation of five acupuncture points should be used,” said lead researcher Sabina Lim, from the department of meridian and acupuncture in the Graduate College of Basic Korean Medical Science at Kyung Hee University in Seoul, South Korea.
According to Lim, the effectiveness of acupuncture on obese patients is closely related to metabolic function. “Increased metabolic function promotes the consumption of body fat, overall, resulting in weight loss,” she said.
The report was published online Dec. 16 in the journal Acupuncture in Medicine.
Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center, said, “We must avoid rushing to judge that a treatment is ineffective just because we don’t understand the mechanism. Rather, if a treatment is genuinely effective, it invites us to figure out the mechanism.”
But this study does not prove the effectiveness of acupuncture, he said. “Placebo effects are strong, particularly when they involve needles. The evidence here falls short of proof,” Katz said.
According to the U.S. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, results from the few studies on acupuncture and weight loss have been mixed.
In one study, researchers examined the effect of ear acupuncture with sham acupuncture on obese women. “Researchers found no statistical difference in body weight, body-mass index and waist circumference between the acupuncture group and placebo,” said Katy Danielson, a spokeswoman for the center.
For this latest study, Lim and her colleagues compared acupuncture of five points on the outer ear with one-point acupuncture. They randomly assigned 91 overweight people to five-point acupuncture, one-point acupuncture (hunger) or sham (placebo) treatment.
Is acupuncture really the next weight loss miracle? Find out here.
Let’s be real: losing weight isn’t always easy. In fact, it can be downright difficult and discouraging when it feels as though you’re doing everything right, yet the numbers on the scale just won’t budge. At times like these, it can be tempting to turn to alternative weight loss methods like acupuncture. But before you step up to get needled, it’s important to first assess exactly what acupuncture does, and how it can complement your efforts to lose weight.
(Also Read: 10 Biggest Weight Loss Mistakes You’re Making)
How does acupuncture work?
According to Dr Richard Tan, principal resident physician and acupuncturist at the Department of Family Medicine, Sengkang Health, the theory behind acupuncture has been debated for centuries. Some hypotheses include the Gate theory where it is believed that acupuncture works through the nervous system to release endogenous chemicals such as endorphins to relieve pain. On the other hand, the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) theory believes in clearing stagnant Qi or blood that causes swelling and/or pain.
But no matter the theory, Dr Tan says that “acupuncture is beneficial as it may stimulate the release of your own body chemicals to help ease discomfort and correct any imbalances in the body due to bad lifestyle habits such as poor posture, eating unhealthily and not sleeping well. There are no artificial chemicals or toxic metals used in acupuncture, no risk of major side effects and no contraindications to most pre-existing chronic disease medications such as those for high blood pressure or diabetes that patients are currently on.”
(Also Read: 9 Ways to Lose Weight, According to TCM)
How can acupuncture help one lose weight?
The jury’s still out on this as there aren’t really any controlled scientific studies where weight loss occurred as a direct result of acupuncture. In a small-scale study on 80 obese patients, those who received body acupuncture regularly for three to six months eventually ended up losing weight, but the treatment was also done in combination with a low-calorie diet. “Weight loss has to be gradual,” says Dr Tan. Acupuncture certainly isn’t a miracle solution for shedding excess kilos but when used together with conventional options to lose weight – think a healthy diet with lots of exercise – it can be helpful.
Dr Tan lists the ways in which acupuncture can complement one’s efforts to lose weight below:
– Reducing anxiety which causes one to binge eat
– Releasing serotonin, which is attributed to be an anti-depressant, resulting in having a positive outlook to curb emotional eating
– Releasing dopamine to help reduce alcohol intake and calorie intake (low levels of dopamine tend to cause people to overindulge their hunger cravings)
– Suppressing appetite with the release of beta-endorphins and serotonin
– Increasing metabolism with the release of above-mentioned chemicals
– Reducing body aches and pain to allow the person to return to doing regular exercise
(Also Read: Here’s Exactly How Acupuncture Can Give You Better Skin)
If you’re keen to see how acupuncture can help you lose weight, speak to a doctor or registered acupuncturist to tailor a suitable plan for you. But remember, there are no quick fixes. “As in all conditions, I usually recommend that my patients do weekly or twice-weekly sessions, for a total of 10 sessions,” says Dr Tan. “You should be able to see results from the fifth session onwards.”
How to Lose the Weight and Keep It Off with Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine.
Weight loss comes under the topic of “Weight Control”, because we are concerned with the loss and MAINTENANCE of loss of weight. This is a multi-faceted problem, and a good program involves diet, exercise and stress reduction techniques. Chinese acupressure and digestive aid exercises are also useful tools in the battle with weight loss.
Read more about acupuncture for weight loss
Acupuncture is an ADJUNCT therapy. It is not a panacea or a wonder cure in the treatment of weight control. But, acupuncture is effective in making it easier to lose and maintain that loss if the patient is willing to change their lifestyle. The exact mechanism by which acupuncture works is unknown but we know that acupuncture needles inserted into specific points on the body and in the ear release endorphins which have a calming and relaxing effect that makes it easier to deal with stress, frustration and anxiety that can trigger overeating and bingeing on fattening foods. Also endorphins affect the digestive and hormonal systems so acupuncture can help rebalance the organ systems that are running too fast- or in this case too slow”i.e., the metabolism and the will power.
The Acupuncture Treatment
In order for the acupuncturist to choose the correct points for you, you must first come in for a consultation to discuss your particular pattern of overeating, and let the practitioner know in your intake form if there are any real digestive difficulties. Then the acupuncturist would check your pulse to discern the general state of your energy and measure the health of your stomach energy in particular, and then they would look at your tongue to check for cracks, peeling or puffiness on the stomach area, or a suspicious yellow or thick white coating that might indicate troublesome heat or coldness in the stomach and would provide some clues as to why the person was gaining weight.
The Acupuncture Points
Then, armed with this information, the acupuncturist would devise a treatment protocol using a combination of ear and body points. Although the Chinese developed the system of auricular (ear) acupuncture a long time ago, as one of the various Microsystems of the body containing all the points relating to the major organs and body parts, a Frenchman by the name of Nogier, discovered many more acupuncture points on the ear that pertain to Western medicine such as points called “Adrenal”, “Pituitary”, “FSH”, “Ovary”, “Thyroid”, etc.
Many of the points from both ear acupuncture systems that are important for weight loss treatments are:
- 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 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.
Next, body points would be selected.
During the first few treatments, most likely the “Four Gate” points (LI 4, Liver3) would be used to circulate the energy throughout the body and calm the nervous system. Ren 12, the front collecting point of the stomach energy would be chosen for many treatments, as would Stomach 36, three inches distal to the eye of the knee that tonifies the energy and helps circulate oxygen and blood of the whole body and of the stomach in particular. Then, based on the diagnosis, the practitioner may add Stomach, 40, the master point for mucous, or Kidney 7 or 10 for edema or water retention.
The acupuncturist may use electro stimulation on some of these acupuncture points to increase the endorphin release and stimulate the metabolism. The needles would be kept in place for around thirty to forty-five minutes depending on how much support was needed for the patient, and after the needles are removed, ear tacs with adhesive on them are often placed in the same spots on the ear to continue the stimulation between treatments. The way it works is this: when the patient feels an urge to eat, s/he applies mild pressure to the point or rubs it back and forth for about 20 seconds. This type of acupressure stimulates the point, causes a mild endorphin release, relaxes the patient and helps them to regain their willpower or resolve about resisting the temptation to eat. The patient removes the tacs at home after three days and throws them away or takes them out sooner if there is any irritation or discomfort. It is a good idea to also remove oneself from the location, person or food that triggers the resistance to the diet or contributes to the breakdown of willpower. For example, one might want to stay away from the kitchen and refrigerator between meals.
Read about people who lose weight with acupuncture and Chinese medicine
The Treatment Plan
The number of acupuncture treatments necessary depends on the patient’s goals for losing weight, the speed at which they want to lose, and their commitment to keeping the weight off. If the overeating is severe, a treatment every day for the first five days is appropriate and can then taper off the second week to every other day and the third week to every three days. For the average patient who wants to lose between five to ten pounds, one treatment every three days or twice a week until they reach their goal is appropriate, and then a booster treatment once every two weeks is optimal. After a few booster treatments, the patient and practitioner will mutually decide when to terminate frequent treatments and then can aim to meet approximately four times a year at the change of seasons when energy levels are unstable and tonification and harmonizing of one’s system is appropriate for everyone.
Nutritional Counseling and Lifestyle Changes
As was mentioned earlier, a good weight loss program includes nutritional counseling and exercise as well as a commitment to make permanent lifestyle changes. The acupuncturist can help with nutritional counseling and can discuss a diet regimen that the patient can live with and maintain for the long term. A diet that is high in fiber and low in fat, with moderate amounts of low-density carbohydrates and low-fat protein is usually the best choice to adopt. With this type of a diet program, the patient can avoid the pit-falls of yo-yo dieting or the tendency to lose weight and then regain it.
Other important tools that can aid in weight loss are stress reduction techniques and a moderate exercise regimen. The acupuncturist can suggest various stress reduction methods that may include breathing exercises, Tai Chi, yoga, meditation or biofeedback. And since the goal of a weight program is not only weight loss but the maintenance of that loss, an exercise program that the patient likes is the best one to choose. The patient could try starting a program that includes brisk walking three times a week for forty minutes. After a few weeks when stamina is increased, they could try walking five times a week. After that more aerobic exercise can be added such as the treadmill, stair climber or aerobics classes, cycling or whatever from of rigorous exercise the person enjoys and can maintain for the long term. It is a good idea to use free weights beginning with three pound weights and practicing just two to three sets of arm curls three times a week. Moderate weight training builds lean body mass and helps to reduce body fat as well as strengthen and build bone mass and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
Chinese Herbal Medicine and Supplements
Next a good individualized nutritional supplement program is important because everyone has a different metabolism and different needs for nutrients. It will include vitamins, minerals, herbs antioxidants, phytochemicals and nutraceuticals. These will support the diet program and balance the blood sugar to help give the body the strength, energy and defense it needs to maintain the healthy life style that s/he has begun.
Many diet and appetite suppression products are available on the market and surprisingly there is a very effective and safe ancient Chinese herbaL formula for digestion that comes in a pleasant tasting chewable wafer form called BAO HE WAN. The ingredients are:
- Shan Zha (Fructus Crataegi) –promotes digestion of meat and fats; dissolves food accumulation
- Shen Qu (Medicated Leaven) — digests alcohol, rice and vinegar and dissolves food accumulation
- Lai Fu Zi (Semen Raphani) — digests starch (wheat and breads)
- Ban Xia (Pinellia), Chen Pi (Tangerine Peel), and Fu Ling (Poria Cocos), — resolve dampness and food accumulations
- Lian Qiao (Fructus Forsythiae) — clears stomach heat that may result from accumulated food that dries up the digestive liquids
When this famous herbal formula is drunk as a tea, other herbs may be added if there is gas or abdominal distension such as cardamon or magnolia bark. Or if constipation is a problem a gentle laxative like Semen Pruni or Huo Ma Ren may be used. However an important concept of Chinese medicine is to diagnose properly and treat the patient with the correct herbs so as not to consume body fluids or disturb electrolyte balance. Food accumulation may be due to stomach deficiency so the practitioner may add other herbs such as Codonopsis to tonify the stomach energy so the food could descend properly through the digestive tract.
Breathing and Abdominal Excercises
While the patient is undergoing the behavior modification program and is successfully losing weight, it is a good idea to incorporate a set of deep breathing and abdominal exercises that utilize the acupuncture meridians or energy lines on the body to stimulate relaxation and digestion. If we practice deep abdominal breathing while lying down for a few minutes in the morning before we arise, we will not only take in more oxygen but will stimulate the stomach, spleen, kidney ,and reproductive energy lines that are all located on the center of the torso . Digestion will be improved and all those organs will function more effectively. We will also start the day with more energy and clarity.
Another method of stimulating these same organs in the stomach region is the abdominal finger pressure massage that follows the direction of the large intestines. This massage may also be performed in bed in the morning and evening and will gently stimulate all the points on the central torso and will not only encourage proper digestion but will foster homeostasis or the harmonious balancing of the hormone and endocrine systems of the body.
Last but not least, three pressure points on the body may be stimulated daily for two minutes each that will promote the general health as well as aid digestion, elimination and relaxation. These points are: Large Intestines 4 (HEGU); Pericardium 6 (Neiguan); and Stomach 36 (Zusanli). The points should be pressed with strong continuous pressure for approximately two minutes each and may be said to comprise a self-healing treatment.
While no guarantee may be given for acupuncture treatments for weight loss, the self-motivated patient who will take the time to practice most of the things outlined here will most likely be pleased with the results that she finds within a reasonable amount of time.
Acupuncture and Oriental medicine is an art and a science that takes years to master. Look for an acupuncturist with experience in the treatment of weight loss/management on www.Acufinder.com.
About the Author
Joey Komada is a California licensed acupuncturist and herbalist who has been practicing Oriental medicine in the South Bay of Los Angeles since 1993. Besides herbs and acupuncture, Joey also offers acupressure, reflexology and natural face lifts in her practice. She also offers house calls for those who cannot make it to her office. Many insurance companies now cover acupuncture. For a consultation and treatment at her Torrance, California location, call (310) 617-6354
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