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!