Acupuncture for Weight Loss
Weight loss comes under the topic of “Weight Control”, because we are concerned with the loss and MAINTENANCE of loss of weight. This is a multi-faceted problem, and a good program involves diet, exercise and stress reduction techniques. Chinese acupressure and digestive aid exercises are also useful tools in the battle with weight loss.
Acupuncture is an ADJUNCT therapy. It is not a panacea or a wonder cure in the treatment of weight control. But, acupuncture is effective in making it easier to lose and maintain that loss if the patient is willing to change their lifestyle. The exact mechanism by which acupuncture works is unknown but we know that acupuncture needles inserted into specific points on the body and in the ear release endorphins which have a calming and relaxing effect that makes it easier to deal with stress, frustration and anxiety that can trigger overeating and bingeing on fattening foods. Also endorphins affect the digestive and hormonal systems so acupuncture can help rebalance the organ systems that are running too fast- or in this case too slow—i.e., the metabolism and the will power.
The Acupuncture Treatment
In order for the acupuncturist to choose the correct points for you, you must first come in for a consultation to discuss your particular pattern of overeating, and let the practitioner know in your intake form if there are any real digestive difficulties. Then the acupuncturist would check your pulse to discern the general state of your energy and measure the health of your stomach energy in particular, and then they would look at your tongue to check for cracks, peeling or puffiness on the stomach area, or a suspicious yellow or thick white coating that might indicate troublesome heat or coldness in the stomach and would provide some clues as to why the person was gaining weight.
The Treatment Plan
The number of acupuncture treatments necessary depends on the patient\\’s goals for losing weight, the speed at which they want to lose, and their commitment to keeping the weight off. If the overeating is severe, a treatment every day for the first five days is appropriate and can then taper off the second week to every other day and the third week to every three days. For the average patient who wants to lose between five to ten pounds, one treatment every three days or twice a week until they reach their goal is appropriate, and then a booster treatment once every two weeks is optimal. After a few booster treatments, the patient and practitioner will mutually decide when to terminate frequent treatments and then can aim to meet approximately four times a year at the change of seasons when energy levels are unstable and tonification and harmonizing of one\\’s system is appropriate for everyone.
Nutritional Counseling and Lifestyle Changes
As was mentioned earlier, a good weight loss program includes nutritional counseling and exercise as well as a commitment to make permanent lifestyle changes. The acupuncturist can help with nutritional counseling and can discuss a diet regimen that the patient can live with and maintain for the long term. A diet that is high in fiber and low in fat, with moderate amounts of low-density carbohydrates and low-fat protein is usually the best choice to adopt. With this type of a diet program, the patient can avoid the pit-falls of yo-yo dieting or the tendency to lose weight and then regain it.
Other important tools that can aid in weight loss are stress reduction techniques and a moderate exercise regimen. The acupuncturist can suggest various stress reduction methods that may include breathing exercises, Tai Chi, yoga, meditation or biofeedback. And since the goal of a weight program is not only weight loss but the maintenance of that loss, an exercise program that the patient likes is the best one to choose. The patient could try starting a program that includes brisk walking three times a week for forty minutes. After a few weeks when stamina is increased, they could try walking five times a week. After that more aerobic exercise can be added such as the treadmill, stair climber or aerobics classes, cycling or whatever from of rigorous exercise the person enjoys and can maintain for the long term. It is a good idea to use free weights beginning with three pound weights and practicing just two to three sets of arm curls three times a week. Moderate weight training builds lean body mass and helps to reduce body fat as well as strengthen and build bone mass and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
Chinese Herbal Medicine and Supplements
Next a good individualized nutritional supplement program is important because everyone has a different metabolism and different needs for nutrients. It will include vitamins, minerals, herbs antioxidants, phytochemicals and nutraceuticals. These will support the diet program and balance the blood sugar to help give the body the strength, energy and defense it needs to maintain the healthy life style that s/he has begun.
Breathing and Abdominal Excercises
While the patient is undergoing the behavior modification program and is successfully losing weight, it is a good idea to incorporate a set of deep breathing and abdominal exercises that utilize the acupuncture meridians or energy lines on the body to stimulate relaxation and digestion. If we practice deep abdominal breathing while lying down for a few minutes in the morning before we arise, we will not only take in more oxygen but will stimulate the stomach, spleen, kidney ,and reproductive energy lines that are all located on the center of the torso . Digestion will be improved and all those organs will function more effectively. We will also start the day with more energy and clarity.
Another method of stimulating these same organs in the stomach region is the abdominal finger pressure massage that follows the direction of the large intestines. This massage may also be performed in bed in the morning and evening and will gently stimulate all the points on the central torso and will not only encourage proper digestion but will foster homeostasis or the harmonious balancing of the hormone and endocrine systems of the body.
Last but not least, three pressure points on the body may be stimulated daily for two minutes each that will promote the general health as well as aid digestion, elimination and relaxation. These points are: Large Intestines 4 (HEGU); Pericardium 6 (Neiguan); and Stomach 36 (Zusanli). The points should be pressed with strong continuous pressure for approximately two minutes each and may be said to comprise a self-healing treatment.
While no guarantee may be given for acupuncture treatments for weight loss, the self-motivated patient who will take the time to practice most of the things outlined here will most likely be pleased with the results that she finds within a reasonable amount of time.