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Less Weight, More Life with Acupuncture

By: Sam Gaines, Staff Writer

For “Delia,” it was the pain of a severe auto accident and abdominal surgery that brought her to acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).  “I decided to turn to the clinic because of their integrative approach to holistic health,” she recalls. Needing relief from her muscle tension headaches and deep sense of fatigue, Delia found that her acupuncturist, Dr. Kathe Ana of Heavenly Bodies Clinic in Alexandria, Va., wanted to go much deeper than the symptoms.

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As she learned, the traditional Chinese medicine approach integrated everything — nutrition for energy and therapeutic support; an exercise techniques keyed on self-healing meridians; and regular acupuncture treatments. “It was a revolutionary concept for me,” she explains. “I committed myself to the entire program.”

The result? Not only did she sleep more deeply and wake more refreshed, her body temperature began to self-regulate, her skin tone improved, and her headaches and fatigue were gone — all after one month of treatment. And one thing she hadn’t expected: She lost four pounds and could feel the inches melting away. “My body began to change shape,” she says. “It felt like it was really alive again and getting stronger every day.”

Gaining Vitality, Losing Weight

Delia’s results are hardly unique. From Dr. Ana’s experience with many patients, weight loss is often a wonderful side effect from recovering health through TCM. “Over the years, we discovered that, in fact, people with fatigue and pain couldn't lose weight. Remove prescription medications, fatigue, and pain, and people successfully lost weight and kept it off.”

That’s exactly what other patients of acupuncture and TCM report, too. “I originally sought help for severe, debilitating arthritis pain,” reports “Cindy.”

Dr. Ana and her staff started Cindy on a weight loss program that incorporated nutrition according to the “five flavors” of food, a balanced approach to supplying the body’s energy needs through diet, and an exercise regimen, which is geared toward enhancing Qi flow through the body’s meridians. On top of that, Cindy received acupuncture treatments that Dr. Ana adjusted as her needs changed.

The result? “I lost 45 pounds and have been successful in maintaining my goal weight,” Cindy reports. “My energy levels are excellent, and I move much more easily than I did. And I am walking and sleeping without pain.”

Menopause Relief, Weight Loss

For “Mary,” menopausal symptoms were becoming a major issue in her life. “My symptoms became very bad last summer,” she says. Those symptoms included the usual suspects with menopause — hot flashes, a lack of sleep, and weight gain.  

Mary had some familiarity with acupuncture from her past, living in Japan. “It was advertised everywhere as a weight-loss tool,” she recalls. Recalling her time there, she decided to pursue more information.

That led her to licensed acupuncturist and herbalist Joey Komada, L.Ac., Dipl.Ac/CH, of Torrance, Calif. The initial consultation with Komada made it clear to Mary that this wasn’t going to be a simple matter of getting acupuncture just to treat menopausal symptoms. “It was very thorough,” she says. “She looked at my tongue, asked about my symptoms, and discussed the treatment in detail. She gave me a lot of advice on my diet, and we discussed herbal remedies. It was a combination of a lot of things.”

Mary began weekly treatments with Komada, which included acupuncture and plenty of follow-up at each appointment. “Joey would always check in with me before each treatment about stress levels, the menopausal symptoms, and other factors in my life,” Mary says. “The treatment was customized to where I was at that point in my life and in the course of treatment.”

Komada says that weight loss is just one benefit that often accompanies the benefits of acupuncture and TCM in her practice. “The idea here is to treat the whole person, to improve the operation of the entire organism,” she explains. “Each person has an individual pattern of issues, so the treatment has to be flexible to tailor the herbal balance and acupuncture approach to what the patient needs.”

Stress was a major factor for Mary in her job, but her stress response began to lessen as she continued treatments with Komada. “I noticed that there was a sense of euphoria after my treatments, much like the feeling of well-being one gets after exercise,” Mary says. “The stress was gone, and I was able to concentrate better throughout the day.”

Now Mary sees Komada once a month for treatment and continues with Komada’s recommended program of herbal supplementation, exercise, and nutrition. “The weight came off gradually, as all the other symptoms improved,” Mary says. “Now I no longer have the hot flashes, I can sleep through the night, and the weight gain that came with menopause is gone. I feel very healthy and am experiencing life in a more balanced way.”

Better energy flow. Less weight. A great sense of total well being. TCM and acupuncture may be the best-kept diet secret going.

Please note: All patient names have been changed to respect privacy.

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