Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine that has been used for centuries to treat various health conditions. In recent years, there has been increasing interest in using acupuncture for weight loss. This procedure is a topic that is often debated. Some people swear by its effects, while others think it’s nothing more than a placebo. So, does acupuncture really work for weight loss? Read on so you can find out.
Acupuncture: A Brief Overview
Acupuncture is the traditional Chinese medical practice of stimulating specific points in the body, primarily by inserting 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. Aside from these health issues, another benefit of acupuncture that many believe is true is to aid in weight loss.
Acupuncture for Weight Loss
According to some Chinese medicine experts, acupuncture can help with weight loss by regulating hormone production, improving metabolism, regulating digestion, reducing inflammation, suppressing the appetite, lessening water retention, and optimising other bodily functions that are related to obesity and weight loss.
Using stomach and kidney acupuncture points, it is possible to improve the functioning of the digestive system and even increase the number of nutrients that are taken in by the body. By preventing slow digestion and improving gut health, you can relieve constipation, bloating and other gastrointestinal issues that may keep you sedentary or lead to fat deposition.
Inflammation or tension in the gut, muscles and other body tissues can slow down the metabolism, strain the immune system, and even impact heart health and digestion. By relieving tension and regulating the body’s immune response, acupuncture for weight loss can lower your levels of oxidative stress and optimise your body to shed excess pounds.
Stops Water Retention
Stimulating the nerves of the kidney and endocrine system discourages water retention in the body. Preventing your body from storing excess water is a quick way to lose weight and help to keep it off.
If your hormone levels are out of balance, many different bodily processes can be negatively affected, from digestion and cognition to healing and immune system function. Acupuncture of the spleen and Shen Men point in the ear is found to be effective in balancing hormone levels.
Needles stimulating the thyroid area can boost the functioning of your pituitary gland, one of the key areas of the body in relation to metabolism. This can thereby increase the rate of fat-burning, doing not only your workouts but also your daily activities more effective in burning calories and losing weight.
Acupuncture is able to induce the release of endorphins in the body, which are feel-good hormones that can quickly eliminate 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.
Sensitive Points for Acupuncture
When it comes to acupuncture for weight loss, there are a number of key areas of the body that should be focused on. As mentioned earlier, the areas related to digestion and food intake are particularly important, such as the stomach, kidneys, and mouth. Thyroid and endocrine acupuncture can also help regulate your hormone levels and ensure proper energy flow in the body while also helping with appetite and metabolic speed. The lungs and spleen are also critical areas for weight-loss acupuncture, but the most important and unexpected sensitivity point for weight loss is actually the ear.
Yes, you read it right! In recent years, acupuncture ear therapy (also known as auricular acupuncture) for weight loss has received much attention after some studies were conducted that showed significant weight loss following ear therapy. The ear is one of the densest areas on the body for nerve endings that are linked all over the body. There are dozens of different specific points on the ear, carefully studied and recorded over thousands of years, that can impact your health.
Why are there so few acupuncture-for-weight-loss studies?
If there’s a chance that acupuncture can help people lose weight, why aren’t there more studies proving it to be effective or ineffective?
There have been studies suggesting that acupuncture is likely effective for weight loss. But a review of those studies suggested that these results weren’t totally convincing because of problems with the way the studies had been carried out.
Sometimes the results of small studies can be combined to improve their statistical relevance. In this case, the studies featuring acupuncture often have too many variables to combine, including differences in the:
- number of acupuncture points
- number of sessions
- length of sessions
- use of placebo
- sham intervention
Also, acupuncture study results are often heavily influenced by each participant’s personal beliefs, expectations, and relationship with the practitioner. These influences can alter the actual acupuncture treatment’s impact and skew the study’s data.
What about acupuncture safety and side effects?
The safety and side effects of acupuncture depend on the training and experience of the practitioner and the cleanliness of the needles.
Make sure your acupuncturist is trained and licensed in your state. Otherwise, you could suffer serious side effects, including:
- punctured organs
- collapsed lungs
- injury to the central nervous system
Weight loss: Does Acupuncture Really Work?
If you believe that your acupuncture treatments are beneficial, your positive attitude may help you lose weight. For example, if you feel that acupuncture treatments are improving your quality of life, you might be motivated by that feeling to make good diet and exercise choices. And those choices can result in further weight loss.
As with any weight-loss strategy, a single change in your lifestyle or behaviour is not likely to deliver the results you want. Even though acupuncture can effectively alter your metabolic and hormone levels and address numerous issues related to weight loss, you should still complement this treatment with the proper diet and regular exercise.
Finding an experienced acupuncturist is an essential first step in determining a treatment plan focusing on stimulating weight loss. Chatswood Medical Centre has helped many people achieve their goals for a healthier, more active life. We invite you to learn more and contact us to schedule a consultation so our team can help you better.