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I am interested in using acupuncture to lose weight. I have about 100 pounds to lose. Can acupuncture help me lose weight and keep it off?
The Acupuncture Weight Loss Solution
By Diane Joswick, L.Ac.
I am going to tell you a secret. All diets will work if they lower your caloric
intake and you STICK TO IT! It’s pure physics: Our weight is determined by the
amount of energy that we take in, and the amount of energy we expend.
why is obesity now a national epidemic?
problem is that it is against our nature to limit calories. We instinctively eat
more than we need to. This is a “gift” passed down from our hunter-gatherer
ancestors from a time when there wasn't a drive-thru window on every corner. We
also tend to eat in excess due to our modern lifestyles, chronic stress, and
other psychological “triggers”.
Going to Extremes
People will go to
drastic measures to lose weight. Fad diets ask you to eat an unnatural and
unhealthy diet, such as a meal plan of cabbage soup or pineapples or rice or
no-carbs, They may work in the short term because of the low caloric intake,
but there is absolutely no way you can keep it up. Your body and mind will rebel
and take revenge for putting it on such a restrictive regime, rather than
providing whole foods and a “whole diet” with proper nutrients. Instinctively,
your body will crave foods and gorge, filling up, terrified of and preparing for
the next starvation, packing on fat for stored energy.
unnatural and highly restrictive diet can cause yo-yo dieting and drastic ups
and downs in body weight. Improper diet practices can also cause malnutrition,
organ damage, slow metabolic rate and imbalances within the
Wouldn’t it be great to decrease the amount of food that you take
in, and increase the amount of energy you expend? It’s entirely possible, thanks
to acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Acupuncture and TCM
address both the physiological and psychological aspects of weight loss. A
comprehensive therapy for weight issues rooted in TCM promotes better digestion,
smooths emotions, reduces appetite, improves metabolism, and eliminates food
Weight loss according to
Traditional Chinese Medicine
According to TCM, the root of excess
weight is an imbalance within the body caused by malfunctioning of the spleen
and liver organ systems.
In five-element theory, the spleen is
responsible for the proper functioning of the digestive system, ensuring that
the food we eat is transformed into Qi — the vital substance of life. Disharmony
of the spleen will have symptoms such as fatigue, slow metabolism, water
retention, loose stool, and feeling of heaviness.
The liver’s job is to
keep the flow of your body’s Qi and blood (as well as your emotions) running
smoothly. Our modern, fast-paced lifestyle and chronic stress can negatively
impact the liver’s ability to function properly and smoothly, which, in turn,
can cause the spleen and the whole digestive system to function poorly and
decrease your metabolism. Liver disharmony can also cause some of the “triggers”
that lead to cravings and compulsive eating.
Backed by Research
A growing body of
research supports the use of acupuncture and Asian medicine in weight
- A 2003 study published in The Journal of Medical Acupuncture found that
participants receiving acupuncture lost more than three times more weight than
the control group.
- In a study conducted by the University of Adelaide in Australia in 1998, 95
percent of the participants receiving electro-stimulation on acupuncture points
reported appetite suppression. The results showed that the acupuncture group was
more likely to experience a reduced appetite and to lose weight than the control
The Acupuncture Weight Loss
From a TCM perspective, the acupuncture points, foods
and herbs that are chosen to assist with weight loss directly influence the Qi
of the spleen and liver systems to treat the root imbalances that are causing
the weight gain.
From a Western perspective, acupuncture and TCM have
been shown to have an effect on the function of the nervous system, endocrine
system, digestive system, food cravings, and metabolism. All of which can help
to energize the body, maximize the absorption of nutrients, regulate
elimination, control overeating, suppress the appetite, and reduce
Acupuncture Points for Weight Loss
beauty of acupuncture is that each treatment is catered to the needs of the
individual patient. Acupuncture points on the body will be chosen for overall
well being with the objective of increasing circulation of the blood and Qi
(stimulating the metabolism) and calming the nervous system.
to treating the root of the imbalance within the body, different acupuncture
points may be chosen for each treatment as different symptoms arise. For
instance, if you are experiencing a desire to overeat related to premenstrual
syndrome (PMS) one week, then that can be addressed at that week’s
Generally treatments are scheduled once or twice a week for
8 to 12 weeks or until the goal weight has been reached. The treatments include
a combination of auricular (ear) and body acupuncture, ear tacks or pellets to
leave on in-between treatments, herbs and supplements, abdominal massage,
breathing exercises, and food and lifestyle recommendations.
Acupuncture points on the
ears have been found to be particularly effective for weight loss. The human ear
has been described as a micro-system of the body in an inverted fetal position;
it contains points relating to all major organs and body
Auricular points for weight loss are stimulated with small tacks
during treatment. Then seed-sized beads or magnets are taped to the points to
enhance the effectiveness of the points at home. The beads will generally stay
in place for 3 days to a week and can be gently massaged for 10-second intervals
if cravings occur.
Here are some of the most commonly used auricular
- Shenmen: Important point for calming
the mind and reducing stress
- Small Intestine: Reinforces spleen,
- Mouth: Calming point used for
smoking, over eating and hyperactive talking.
- Hunger Point: Used to relieve hunger
and control compulsive eating
- Endocrine point: Moves liver Qi and
aids in the function of the metabolism
A Total Health Program
report a marked decline in appetite and cravings with acupuncture alone but
herbs, healing foods, and exercises can definitely enhance the efficacy of the
Herbs and Healing
Foods: The herbs and foods that are chosen during a weight loss treatment
are for promoting healthy digestion, energizing the body, augmenting Qi, and
improve elimination of water, toxins, and waste products. Foods that are bitter,
sour and acrid to taste are especially good for weight loss, while sweet, salty
and greasy foods should be reduced.
Abdominal massage/exercise: Points on the
abdomen improve digestion, absorption of food and peristalsis of the intestines.
The abdominal points can be stimulated with massage or by belly breathing, where
the abdomen is consciously moving in and out with each breath. Deep breathing
with visualization can also strengthen will power and be used as a tool to curb
hunger and cravings.
Acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine are
powerful tools for healthy weight loss, by itself or as a supportive treatment
in conjunction with other weight management programs.
In the struggle to
eat less and expend more energy, you may find that acupuncture is just what was
needed to overcome cravings, boost energy, enhance your metabolism, and increase
your willpower to succeed!
Diane Joswick, L.Ac. refined her acupuncture weight loss skills in her
private practice in Del Mar, Calif. Her new book, The Acupuncture Weight Loss
Solution(TM), will be available in bookstores in 2008.