How does weight loss acupuncture work?
The classical Chinese explanation is that channels of energy run in regular patterns through the body and over its surface. These energy channels, called meridians, are like rivers flowing through the body to irrigate and nourish the tissues. An obstruction in the movement of these energy rivers is like a dam that backs up in others.
The meridians can be influenced by needling the acupuncture points; the acupuncture needles unblock the obstructions at the dams, and reestablish the regular flow through the meridians. Acupuncture treatments can therefore help the body’s internal organs to correct imbalances in their digestion, absorption, and energy production activities, and in the circulation of their energy through the meridians.
The modern scientific explanation is that needling the acupuncture points stimulates the nervous system to release chemicals in the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. These chemicals will either change the experience of pain, or they will trigger the release of other chemicals and hormones which influence the body’s own internal regulating system.
The improved energy and biochemical balance produced by acupuncture results in stimulating the body’s natural healing abilities, and in promoting physical and emotional well-being.
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 Queen 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.