It is swimsuit season and how do you feel? If you have been working hard to prepare for the summer season by exercising, eating right and getting lots of sleep then you are probably on the right track. However, if you've gotten wrapped up in the stresses of daily life like many of us, your goal of losing a little extra weight for the summer season may have gotten pushed to the side. What you may need is just a little boost to get you back on track to an amazing swimsuit body. The little boost you need could come in the form of acupuncture.
In combination with diet, exercise and some healthy living tips, acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help you lose weight or manage your current weight. It is important to recognize that acupuncture and Chinese medicine alone have not been proven to decrease weight. They are best combined with diet, exercise and reachable weight loss goals. However, some research has shown that acupuncture can have a positive effect on weight loss.
A systematic review of all research done on acupuncture and weight loss published in the International Journal of Obesity in 2009, found that when "compared to lifestyle, acupuncture was associated with the significant reduction of average body weight loss of 1.72 kg, or 3.78 lbs, and associated with an improvement in obesity." The article goes on to state that acupuncture also showed better results for body weight loss and obesity than conventional medicine. The placebo effect and sham acupuncture treatment was also addressed with acupuncture winning out again, showing significant improvement over these two. One big issue with many acupuncture research trials has been the methods used to study the effect of acupuncture on particular conditions. The acupuncture treatments for obesity and weight loss in these research trials are no exception. The article states that "the amount of evidence is not fully convincing because of the poor methodological quality of the trials reviewed." The abstract for the article can be found here. However, there is promise.
What really happens when acupuncture and Chinese medicine is used to promote weight loss and treat obesity? Well, the honest answer is that no one has a definitive answer for how acupuncture works for weight loss. The primary thought is that acupuncture re-balances the hypothalamus, an important regulatory center in the brain, and this controls hormone levels in your body. The hormones can help increase metabolism, improve nutrient processing and absorption and energize adipose, or fat, breakdown. In addition, due to its sedative effect, acupuncture can also help ease the mind and possibly decrease emotional eating habits.
Typically when acupuncture and Chinese medicine is used for weight loss and obesity, it is important to stick to the treatment plan. This usually involves a series of at least 10-14 treatments on a bi-weekly basis with the accompanying adjustments to diet and the initiation of an exercise plan. Auricular acupuncture, needles inserted in locations on the outer ear, has been particularly useful for weight loss. In addition, Chinese herbal medicine can help decrease cravings for sweets and calm the anxiety or emotional components associated with dieting and weight loss.
In the end, as I am sure many of you that struggle with weight loss and obesity have heard, there is no quick fix. Diet and exercise are still the proven winners for weight management. However, acupuncture and Chinese medicine can provide support for you on your journey and help you reach your weight loss goals with less stress and more balance.