When you think of weight loss, what comes to mind? Fruits, vegetables, and exercise are the likely answers. But it doesn’t have to stop there. Acupuncture, a type of traditional Chinese medicine, can benefit the journey of weight loss.
After all, America is heavier than ever. About 69 percent of American adults are overweight or obese, and the number just keep on rising.1Obesity also increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers – some of the leading causes of death.2 Unfortunately, losing weight isn’t easy.
The typical American diet is energy-dense and nutrient-poor. As technology use increases, so does a physical inactivity. Genetic factors may also play a role. While food and exercise are most important, acupuncture may fight weight loss and its complications.
What Is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a technique that uses thin needles to stimulate specific points of the body. In turn, this changes physical functions. In the western world, acupuncture has been slowly gaining popularity.
More and more people are searching for complementary and alternative therapies. In China and other Asian countries, acupuncture has been practiced for thousands of years. Typically, acupuncture is known for reducing stress, nausea, and pain.3 Thanks to these benefits, weight loss makes the list.
Benefits Of Acupuncture For Weight Loss
1. Acupuncture Controls Appetite
Food portions are everything. The less you eat, the less calories you’ll take in. This translates into a lower chance of packing on the pounds. Of course, it isn’t possible without appetite control.
Acupuncture works by focusing on the points that regulate hunger. For example, stimulating the vagus nerve acts on the nerves that connect the brain and digestive tract.
When the auricular nerve is stimulated, appetite signals from the gastrointestinal tract are stopped. Other points influence the satiety center, helping increase the feeling of satisfaction.4 In fact, acupuncture plus diet has a greater effect than diet alone.5
2. Acupuncture Improves Mood
Acupuncture also acts on emotion. It alters the central nervous system, causing an increase of serotonin and endorphins. These two neurotransmitters are linked to lower levels of stress and depression. Aside from suppressing appetite, these neurotransmitters get you moving. When you’re less stressed, you’ll be more likely to exercise. For someone who’s overweight or obese, every bit helps. Acupuncture provides a motivational boost.
3. Acupuncture Enhances Fat Metabolism
Stimulating certain points can even improve fat metabolism. Acupuncture redistributes fat tissue, helping promote lipid breakdown. In turn, waist circumference decreases.6
This is effect is so significant. Waist circumference, or the subcutaneous fat tissue around the abdomen, is a measure of health risk. It indicates your chances of obesity-related diseases like high blood pressure, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. For women, the risk is high with a waist circumference of more than 35 inches. For men, the cut-off is 40 inches.7
Acupuncture isn’t for everyone. If you’re thinking about giving it a try, talk to your doctor. It might also take some time getting used to, so be patient. Consider asking for a “mini” session first.
|↑1||Why Obesity Is a Health Problem. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.|
|↑2||Adult Obesity Facts. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.|
|↑3||Acupuncture. MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine.|
|↑4||Lacey, J. M., A. M. Tershakovec, and G. D. Foster. “Acupuncture for the treatment of obesity: a review of the evidence.” International journal of obesity 27, no. 4 (2003): 419.|
|↑5||Cho, S. H., J. S. Lee, L. Thabane, and J. Lee. “Acupuncture for obesity: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” International Journal of Obesity 33, no. 2 (2009): 183.|
|↑6||Darbandi, Mahsa, Sara Darbandi, Ali Akbar Owji, Pooneh Mokarram, Majid Ghayor Mobarhan, Majid Fardaei, Baxiao Zhao et al. “Auricular or body acupuncture: which one is more effective in reducing abdominal fat mass in Iranian men with obesity: a randomized clinical trial.” Journal of Diabetes & Metabolic Disorders 13, no. 1 (2014): 92.|
|↑7||Assessing Your Weight. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.|