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At this point we all know some of the amazing benefits of acupuncture, but did you know acupuncture can also aid in weight loss? Yes you read that right. There have been more and more articles proving the reduction of BMI and weight with the continual treatments of acupuncture.
So how does acupuncture help with weight loss?
First off, acupuncture can balance hormones. It stimulates the production of both serotonin and beta endorphins. These hormones suppress appetite, reduce cravings, and increase the breakdown of fat. Endorphins also make you feel more positive.
Acupuncture also decreases the hormones that can tribute to weight gain, such as leptin and insulin. Both levels of these have been shown to decrease after acupuncture. Leptin is the hormone that makes us feel full, it regulates metabolism and fat storage. So why is it good if this is reduced if this is the hormone that makes us feel full? Because if leptin levels are too high other cells can become immune to the effects, and you can no longer tell when to stop eating. Leptin is often found to be excessively high in people with obesity. Insulin regulates fat and carbohydrate metabolism and the absorption of glucose from the blood.
And last, acupuncture can of course aid in your weight loss by reducing stress. When you are stressed the hormone cortisol comes into play. Cortisol is our stress hormone, it escalates our “fight or flight” response, where acupuncture promotes “rest and digest.” When our body is in fight or flight our digestion is put on hold, because when a tiger is casing you the last thing you want your body to be trying to do is digest your food. But, our body is in “fight and flight” much more throughout a day, a tiger does not have to be chasing you for cortisol to be released, disruption or digestion and often leading to depression. This makes it more likely for binge meals to take place.
Some examples of points that can be used in acupuncture for weight loss often starts with points on the abdomen and also points on the ear. I will be doing another Blog post soon about the benefits of auricular acupuncture but for now I will just discuss the four I primarily use for weight loss. The hunger point, Shen Men, the stomach point, and the endocrine point. Often I will needle one side of the ear in these four points and then put ear seeds on the other side that are meant to be worn after the treatment for 3-5 days to help with cravings. I also use points on the abdomen, particularly around the navel, and often even hook up the points to electrical stimulation. These points can been seen in my blog post about digestion!
But acupuncture isn’t the magic cure for weight loss, diet and exercise are also very important. And with finding which organs in TCM are out of balance and which patterns are present, a custom diet can be formed for each patient. This will make sure the right foods are being at the right time in the right ways. For example eating while working, driving, or even watching TV can make it harder for the digestion process to begin. And eating cold foods such as raw veggies, can be great for someone, and harmful for another, who has a cold body and already has trouble digesting, because raw cold veggies are often harder to digest and process.
Each season and through each step in the weight loss journey, the diet can continue to be refined to make it easiest on your body to maintain your goal weight!
Please feel free to reach out if you have any more questions about acupuncture and weight loss!
Tummy Troubles and Acupuncture
Why do acupuncturists ask so much about bowels? These questions can be uncomfortable especially for a first time patients, and especially if their reason for coming in isn’t even related to digestive function!
Our digestion issues are not usually something we discuss openly with our friends and family, and in many cases it may feel like taboo to discuss something that feels so personal with someone your close to but even worse with a stranger. I felt the same way before starting acupuncture school. But I have learned how important digestion and the digestive system is in understanding our bodies.
The digestive system gives us a huge insight into the body as a whole. It has been called the second brain because of its complex nervous system. We know how important it is to take care of our actual brain, but we don’t always care for our second brain in the same way! This can lead to digestive issues such as diarrhea, constipation, gas, blasting, acid reflux, nausea, vomiting, and more. In Traditional Chinese Medicine all of these occur because of different issues with the Spleen and Stomach organs. It can be due to deficiency, stagnation, or rebellion.
Some people experience just a mild type of any of these symptoms, while others deal with severe digestive issues. The later is what usually sends people to me, but even people with mild digestive symptoms can experience great relief in their everyday life with acupuncture focused on digestion, because the gut plays such a huge role in the functioning of our whole body.
Why is digestion so important in TCM?
In TCM the Stomach and Spleen reside in the Middle Burner which is at the center of all the channel pathways for the other organs, so when there are issues in the Spleen or Stomach other organs will begin to be affected. A good way to think about this is if there is a kink in your hose, water can flow freely without the kink (healthy digestive system), but the bigger the kink gets, the less water and pressure can go through (mild digestive issues) until no water is coming out (severe digestive issues).
The Spleen and Stomach are also the organs that are the root of Post-heaven Qi- which means they are the source of all the Qi produced after birth. This concept makes sense when you think where does our energy come from… the food, vitamins and water that nourish our bodies.
If the Stomach and Spleen perform at their fullest capacity, then our bodies are not going to be able to receive all the nourishment of our food. You can eat all the right things, but if our bodies are not digesting properly we don’t receive the full benefit of that food. This nourishment is not only needed to help our physical body function, but it is also needed to nourish our mental and spirit levels. We already said that our gut is our second brain, so it also plays a role in receiving and processing emotions and information.
Symptoms and their TCM disharmony:
In general the things that can affect the Spleen and Stomach are the nature of the food you eat, the regularity of meals, and the environment they are eaten in, and emotional strain. The main diagnosis involved when looking at digestion are listed below with their symptoms next to them:
-Qi deficiency: dull pain improved by eating, poor appetite, loose stools
-Qi Stagnation: epigastric or abdominal distention, constipation
-Oi rebellion: hiccup, belching, nausea, vomiting, loose stools, diarrhea
Your symptoms and diagnosis may fit into one of these categories or it may be a mix of more than one of these. When receiving a treatment for digestive issues we will take a closer look into these symptoms and more to find the root cause. In your treatment we will also go through what food is best for you and your digestive issues, because obviously diet plays a major role in the function of our digestive systems.
.This image shows a very powerful digestion treatment. Ren 6 the point below the navel tonifies Qi and can be used for diarrhea and constipation. Ren 12 the point above the navel is the Front-Mu of the Stomach and regulates the Stomach Qi, and also tonifies the Spleen and Stomach. It can be used for almost any digestive issue including nausea, vomiting, acid reflux, diarrhea, and indigestion. St 25 the points on both sides of the navel is the Front Mu of the Large Intestine, and thus it regulates the function of the intestines, and can be used for food stagnation, as well as constipationa and diarrhea. Together these points are called the Four Doors. All our important digestion points on their own, but the combination can treat most digestive disorders, strengthen post-heaven Qi, and benefit metabolism. This combination is also a great treatment for emotions, which takes us back to the gut as the second brain!