Acupuncture is the traditional Chinese medical practice of stimulating specific points on the body, primarily with the insertion of very thin needles through the skin.
Acupuncture has been the focus of many studies on its ability to manage pain — especially for headache and neck, back, knee, and osteoarthritis pain.
There have not, however, been as many studies on how acupuncture can help with other health issues such as weight loss.
Advocates of acupuncture for weight loss believe that acupuncture can stimulate the body’s energy flow (chi) to impact factors that can reverse obesity such as:
affecting the part of the brain that feels hunger
Weight gain, according to traditional Chinese medicine, is caused by body imbalance. That imbalance, according to ancient teachings, can be caused by a malfunctioning:
So, for weight loss, acupuncture treatments commonly target these areas of the body. Using points along with the stomach and kidney channel systems, it is possible to improve the function of the digestive system, which can increase the number of nutrients absorbed by the body. By improving digestion and gut health, one can address symptoms such as constipation and bloating, as well as other gastrointestinal issues that lead to weight gain.
Leptin and ghrelin are the hunger hormones in the body; ghrelin tells the body that it is hungry, while leptin tells the body that it is full. Acupuncture can modulate the levels of these hormones to reduce appetite and curb overeating and snacking habits.
Inflammation in the gut, muscles and other tissues of the body can slow down the metabolism which can strain the immune, cardiovascular, and digestive systems. By modulating inflammation and regulating the immune response of the body, acupuncture for weight loss can reduce oxidative stress and optimize weight loss.
Acupuncture is able to induce the release of endorphins in the body, which are feel-good hormones that can reduce stress and anxiety. Many people overeat when they have high levels of stress hormones or are feeling overwhelmed. Acupuncture can help to eliminate those urges.
Acupuncture is able to stimulate the thyroid and pituitary glands, which are key players in relation to metabolism. By stimulating these endocrine glands, acupuncture can increase baseline metabolism to improve fat-burning, making exercise and daily activities more effective, resulting in more calories burned and potential weight loss.
Ear acupuncture for weight loss
The ear is another area that acupuncture practitioners target for weight loss. It’s believed that food cravings can be controlled by manipulating points on the ear.
This is a similar treatment to that used by acupuncture practitioners to help smokers and drug users end their addictions.
How many sessions will I need?
Although different acupuncture practitioners recommend different levels and lengths of treatment, if you plan on losing 10 to 15 pounds, having several treatments a week for six to eight weeks is a common program.