Weight management most often focuses on weight loss but not on how to gain weight, which is understandable in an era where obesity and weight related illness is the primary health challenge.
However, for people who face the frustrating situation being unable to put on weight, information is hard to come by and often does not address the cause of being underweight.
There can be many causes for being underweight; The first thing we would want to know in any case like this is what conventional medical investigations had been done, especially checks on many of the hormones of the body, to see if there are any major issues about uptake of nutrients or excessive burning off through, for example, an elevated thyroid function. However, digestion is the primary issue that should be addressed in the first instance. Malabsorption in the digestive tract will result in weight loss, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, bloating and cramping, bowel problems and fatigue.
And, of course, we would always ask about the rest of the family – it used to be said that oaks beget oaks, and willows beget willows. If someone comes from a family who are all slightly under-weight according to the charts which people use as a defining standard, then the chances are that this is a normal state for them.
We would also want to ask a great many questions about food intake and appetite. Many people eat their meals at the wrong time of day, and often have foods which do not suit them, and this could well reduce their chances of gaining weight.
The best that we can say, really, is that if the system is in balance, then unless there are physical reasons which prevent someone reaching a target weight they should be able to achieve some weight gain by the simple expedient of eating more.
For most underweight people, weight gain can be achieved by improving digestion and liver function, and by using herbs and nutritional supplements, such as protein powder, to addressing the individual’s diet while increasing calories / kilojoules.
The etiology and pathogenesis of obesity in Chinese medicine has four main factors. They include “righteous qi deficiency, improper diet, lack of physical exercise, and constitutional factors.”15 Deficiency of righteous qi has many reasons. The result however is damage to the spleen. The spleen is in charge of transportation and transformation. When there is a dysfunction of the spleen there will be an accumulation of dampness and phlegm causing weight gain.
Herbal Treatment. The plan for treatment will be based upon each individual’s constitution and differentiation of syndromes. The main focus for all treatment is to transform dampness and phlegm, tonify spleen, and facilitate the free flow of qi and blood.
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine provide an alternative treatment to help control weight problems. Besides acupuncture and herbal medicine, individuals must also exercise and practice correct dietary guidelines. Acupuncture and herbal medicine combined with exercise and food therapy can greatly enhance the treatment of obesity and help individual manage their weight.