Acupuncture For Weight Loss

Curious about acupuncture for weight loss? Increasing scientific evidence shows that acupuncture can support your weight loss journey and bolster your efforts to slim down. Here is everything you need to know about acupuncture for weight loss, including how it can enhance the impact of positive changes to your lifestyle, such as exercise and healthy eating.

What Is Acupuncture For Weight Loss?

The Traditional Chinese Medicine practice of acupuncture is proven to alleviate pain through the release of endorphins. In more recent times, researchers and health practitioners have sought to understand the efficacy of acupuncture for weight loss. 

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, excessive weight gain is caused by an imbalance in the body of the spleen and liver organ systems, leading to a poor metabolism. Acupuncture supports a holistic approach to weight loss, repairing this imbalance by relaxing the nervous system so it can metabolise food, stabilise and send accurate hunger signals, improve circulation and digest in a healthy, balanced way. From a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective, sustainable weight loss requires a multi-dimensional mind-body-spirit approach to support physical and emotional health. 

How Effective Is Acupuncture For Weight Loss?

How does acupuncture help you lose weight? The answer is indirectly. 

Studies show that when acupuncture is combined with traditional weight loss methods, patients lose more weight. A research review from the United States shows that acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine are just as effective at treating obesity as prescription medications, with fewer side effects. 

Here’s how:

Acupuncture can alleviate stress

Acupuncture is very relaxing and calming to the body. Scientific studies show that acupuncture can release calming endorphins and block stress-induced spikes in stress hormones like cortisol. It can also slow down the sympathetic nervous system, lowering blood pressure and decreasing heart rate. These effects can help with stress and emotional overeating. 

acupuncture-in-action

Acupuncture can help curb your appetite or food addiction

Acupuncture has been shown to help people curb their appetite. A recent pilot study published in BMJ Open Gastroenterology found that just one week of acupuncture can lower levels of ghrelin, a hunger hormone. In a study published in Australian Family Physician, nearly all 60 overweight participants who used acupuncture reported a lower appetite and lost weight, while a control group didn’t notice any similar effects. 

Specific acupuncture trigger points can release serotonin, a mood-boosting chemical that has been linked to decreased appetite. Ear-based acupuncture, also known as auricular acupuncture, can help people manage food addictions that lead to weight gain. 

Acupuncture can reduce inflammation

Acupuncture may decrease pain-causing inflammation by down-regulating a pro-inflammatory biochemical (tumour necrosis factor), resulting in an anti-inflammatory response. 

Acupuncture can help balance blood sugar

Acupuncture is a powerful therapy to support glycemic health, and regulate and balance blood glucose levels. One of the challenges of high blood sugar is that they create sugar cravings. When a person’s sugar cravings are under control, they can make wiser food choices. 

Acupuncture can improve mood

Acupuncture can help stimulate the release of endorphins and oxytocin, a hormone which lifts mood. These endorphins provide an emotional boost, which can help you feel motivated and positive throughout your weight loss journey. 

Acupuncture can promote a healthy digestion and metabolism

Acupuncture helps quiet the sympathetic nervous system and improve blood flow to your stomach to aid digestion. Acupuncture can give your metabolism a boost by helping to regulate insulin and reduce leptin resistance. Both insulin and leptin are appetite-regulating hormones that play a role in long-term weight-loss.

Acupuncture can help improve sleep quality

Sleep deprivation can handicap weight loss efforts. Acupuncture can help improve sleep, a well-known factor in effective long-term weight loss. 

Acupuncture can increase your energy

Acupuncture can provide a calorie-free energy boost, giving you extra energy for exercise. 

How Much Weight Can You Lose With Acupuncture?

Ultimately, the answer depends on your commitment. There is not a definitive answer and acupuncture is not a magic bullet solution that will make the kilograms slide off. 

Acupuncture treatments bolster and accelerate the impact of healthy choices such as a nutritious diet, regular exercise, and quality sleep. When done correctly, acupuncture can improve the efficacy of your weight loss program by improving mood, curbing food cravings, and improving digestion. 

Your acupuncturist is the best person to consult on how to lose weight with acupuncture. Before you commit to an acupuncturist, make sure they address your holistic health too, encouraging exercise, healthy food and a positive mindset. 

Acupuncture Appointment For Weight Loss: What To Expect

At your first acupuncture appointment, your acupuncturist will seek to gain a detailed holistic picture of your health and wellness goals. Expect to answer questions about everything from your sleeping quality, digestive function to your menstrual cycle, emotional quality or basic level of stress. During this short consultation, they may recommend traditional Chinese herbs or diet suggestions to help you achieve your weight loss goals. 

Acupuncture Needle Placement For Weight Loss

Skilled acupuncturists will zero in on specific body areas to support weight loss. Common acupuncture points target the endocrine system and kidneys to treat water retention, spleen and thyroid gland to affect sugar and hormonal rebalancing, and adrenal and ovary glands to treat menopause or premenstrual syndrome (PMS) weight gain. 

Auricular acupuncture, or ear acupuncture, is a common acupuncture treatment for weight loss. For centuries, acupuncturists have used the microsystem of acupuncture points in the ear to help decrease addiction cravings. 

Acupuncture Weight Loss: How Many Sessions?

For best results, we recommend making a conscious effort to have ongoing treatments with your acupuncturist on a regular basis. Commitment is always an important part of any holistic treatment. Try starting off once a week or once a month. If you notice a positive effect from acupuncture treatments early on, you may decide to receive only occasional treatments. Your acupuncturist will make a suggestion based on your needs. 

Reference List

  • Abdi, H., Zhao, B., Darbandi, M., Ghayour-Mobarhan, M., Tavallaie, S., Rahsepar, A.A., Parizadeh, S. M. R., Safariyan, M., Nemati, M., Mohammadi, M., Abbasi-Parizad, P., Darbandi, S., Akhlaghi, S., & Ferns, G.A.A. (2012). The Effects of Body Acupuncture on Obesity: Anthropometric Parameters, Lipid Profile, and Inflammatory and Immunologic Markers. Scientific World Journal. doi: 10.1100/2012/603539
  • Cho, S.H., Lee, J.S., Thabane, L., & Lee, J. (2009). Acupuncture for obesity: a systematic review and meta-analysis. International Journal of Obesity, 33(2):183-96. doi: 10.1038/ijo.2008.269.
  • Ismail, L.A.A., Alshaymaa, A. I., Abdel-Latif, G.A., El-Haleem, D.A.A., Helmy, G., Labib, L.M., & El-Masry, M.K. (2015). Effect of Acupuncture on Body Weight Reduction and Inflammatory Mediators in Egyptian Obese Patients. Open Access Macedonian Journal of Medical Sciences, 3(1): 85–90. 
  • Kim, S.Y., Shin, I. S., & Park, Y.J. (2018). Effect of acupuncture and intervention types on weight loss: a systematic review and meta‐analysis. 
  • Wang, L.H., Huang, W., Wei, D., Ding, D.G., Liu, Y.R., Wang, J.J., & Zhou, Z.Y. (2019). Mechanisms of Acupuncture Therapy for Simple Obesity: An Evidence-Based Review of Clinical and Animal Studies on Simple Obesity. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. https://doi.org/10.1155/2019/5796381
  • Yao, J. B., He, Z., Chen, Y., Xu, M., Shi, Yunzhou, M.M., Zhang, Li, M.M., & Li, Y. (2019). Acupuncture and weight loss in Asians: A PRISMA-compliant systematic review and meta-analysis. Medicine Journal, 98(33). doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000016815
  • Zhang, K., Zhou, S., Wang, C., Xu, H., & Zhang, L. (2018). Acupuncture on Obesity: Clinical Evidence and Possible Neuroendocrine Mechanisms. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. doi: 10.1155/2018/6409389

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