Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese medical practice that involves placing thin needles at specific points in the body for therapeutic effects. According to traditional perspective, acupuncture helps regulate flow of QI or energy and bring body back into balance. The main idea behind the practice is that when we are healthy, energy exits through multiple channels which are known as meridians. When these channels get blocked, we become sick or feel pain. Inserting fine needles into these meridians helps remove the blockages and smoothen the flow of energy. This regulation of flow of energy is beneficial for health. Western medicine practitioners have also embraced acupuncture to take care of postoperative pain, chronic pain, high blood pressure, nausea and vomiting, weight loss, etc. Recently, acupuncture has been of great interest to those who are struggling to lose weight.
“Acupuncture seems to have great potential to aid weight loss effort.”
Acupuncture and Weight Loss
There are many reasons behind overweight, such as lack of exercise, slowed metabolism, hormone imbalances, overeating, poor nutrition, etc. Involving acupuncture to address weight issue is a multi-pronged approach. The reasoning for using acupuncture to control weight is based on the idea that weight gain could be the result of disrupted energy flow to and from the regulating center of the brain, known as hypothalamus. The hypothalamus maintains functional balance or homeostasis that helps the body run like a finely tuned instrument. It’s like a dispatch center of the body that controls neurochemicals and hormones, and helps regulate circadian rhythm, body temperature, thirst and hunger.
What’s particularly important about acupuncture is its influence on obesity hormones. Acupuncture increases ghrelin and decreases leptin, as found out in research measuring the effectiveness of acupuncture for weight loss. Ghrelin is a hormone that reduces appetite and leptin is another hormone that regulates fat storage and metabolism.
Acupuncture gets used to reinforce existing weight control stratedgies, by reducing appetite, improving digestion, boosting metabolism, controlling obesity-related hormones and enhancing the way nutrients are used. It also supports the functions of the liver, which secretes chemicals that are important for digestion, processing nutrients and breaking down of fats. Acupuncture may also be good for smooth muscle of the stomach that helps people know fullness.
Earmark of Acupuncture
In order to pinpoint the energy or QI for effective weight control, acupuncturists aim at particular points on the ear, including shen men point, hunger point, stomach point and endocrine point. Sterilized thin needles get inserted along the invisible channels or meridians. This can help reduce heat produced along the meridians, which stimulates center that helps secrete neurochemicals and hormones. In some cases, the needles get covered with tape to keep them in place for a few days. Later, patients can remove them during follow-up visits or at home. Ear seeds may also be used by some practitioners. Patients can wear the ear seeds that can be messaged periodically. This can help deal with difficult-to-control urges.
Guidance regarding use of Acupuncture
While opting for acupuncture, it’s important to choose a qualified practitioner. Acupuncturists need to be licensed to provide treatment. A license provides assurance that a practitioner has completed necessary education and training standards to practice. You are likely to see L.Ac. (Licensed acupuncturist) following the name of a licensed acupuncturist. An acupuncturist may be a medical doctor or other medical professional who has completed a postgraduate program of study. It’s good to get a full course of treatment, having 10 treatments delivered over a few weeks. This can enhance effectiveness of acupuncture for weight loss. Acupuncture shouldn’t be the only means to rely on in weight loss effort. It should be used along with a comprehensive weight loss plan.
Side effects of Acupuncture
Acupuncture has some side effects. You may feel exhausted after having the procedure. Feeling tired isn’t a matter of great concern. Just having rest can get you rid of fatigue. You may experience soreness where needles get inserted. You can also experience bruising in the area of needling. Furthermore, you may suffer lightheadedness and muscle twitching, and get affected emotionally. While having acupuncture, you may feel like crying due to its effect on your emotion.
Relevantly and surprisingly, there is also this opinion that acupuncture has no significant benefit for weight loss. This opinion is based on some scrutinies on acupuncture in relation to weight loss. The scrutinies suggest that it’s hard to determine whether or not acupuncture can help someone reduce weight. There are studies or observations to support as well as oppose the notion that acupuncture can support weight loss effort. The good thing is that acupuncture hasn’t been associated with any significant adverse effects on health. There are actually reasons to believe that acupuncture may have numerous health benefits including weight loss. It’s doesn’t seem to be logical to conclusively tell that acupuncture can’t support weight loss just because there is confusion or are conflicting indications from relevant studies. It may take more time and research to learn more specifically the extent to which acupuncture can directly or indirectly enhance weight loss. It’s best for acupuncture in relation to weight loss to remain a subject to ongoing research.