Acupuncture, a traditional Chinese medical practice, involves the stimulation of specific points in the body by inserting thin needles through the skin.
Extensive research has been conducted on acupuncture’s effectiveness in managing pain, particularly for conditions such as headaches, neck and back pain, knee pain, and osteoarthritis. However, the scientific exploration of acupuncture’s potential in addressing other health issues, such as weight loss, has been comparatively limited.
While acupuncture’s role in pain management has garnered significant attention, further research is needed to fully understand its potential benefits for weight loss and other health concerns.
What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a treatment in which extremely thin steel needles are inserted into the epidermis to stimulate specific points on the back, neck, head, and face. Acupuncture’s purpose is to alleviate a health condition or symptom, such as discomfort. The method originates in traditional Chinese medicine. Studies have demonstrated its efficacy for certain conditions. Acupuncture is primarily a complementary treatment. You may require additional medical treatments to alleviate your health problems.
Acupuncture for Weight Loss
Advocates of acupuncture for weight loss think that acupuncture can boost the body’s energy flow (chi), influencing elements that can reverse obesity, such as:
- lowering stress
- increasing metabolism
- affecting the part of the brain that feels hunger
- reducing appetite
Weight growth is caused by a physical imbalance, according to traditional Chinese medicine. According to traditional traditions, this imbalance might be generated by a malfunctioning:
- thyroid gland
- endocrine system
As a result, acupuncture treatments for weight loss frequently target specific parts of the body.
Ear Acupuncture for Weight Loss
Another place that acupuncturists target for weight loss is the ear. Food appetites are said to be controllable by altering ear points.
This is a treatment similar to that used by acupuncturists to help smokers and drug addicts overcome their addictions.
How Does it Work?
According to TCM, health is the outcome of a harmonic balance of the yin and yang extremes of the life energy known as Qi, pronounced “chi.” Disease, according to proponents, is the result of an imbalance of these forces.
Qi travels through meridians, or pathways, in the human body, according to TCM. These meridians and energy flows are accessible through the body’s 361 acupuncture sites. Inserting needles into these locations in the appropriate combinations will restore the energy flow.
According to a 2017 analysis, many acupuncture points are located at places where stimulation can impact the activity of several sensory neurons. These locations are also referred to as receptive fields.
Physical stimulation from needle insertion at certain places may influence pain processing in the central nervous system and muscles, as well as enhance blood flow to specific regions of the body.
A meta-analysis published in 2018A study of the effect of acupuncture on chronic pain indicated that the treatment can provide pain reduction advantages that are different from placebo. However, the precise method by which acupuncture operates is unknown.
Can Acupuncture Help With Weight Loss?
Can acupuncture help with weight loss? This question has captured the attention of many individuals seeking alternative approaches to managing their weight effectively. Acupuncture, an ancient practice with roots in traditional Chinese medicine, involves the insertion of thin needles into specific body sites. While primarily known for its pain-relieving properties, acupuncture has gained recognition as a potential ally in weight loss efforts. Proponents of acupuncture suggest that it can address underlying imbalances, promote relaxation, and stimulate the body’s natural healing processes, thereby supporting weight management. While the scientific evidence is still evolving, early studies and anecdotal reports have shown promising results. However, it’s important to view acupuncture as a complementary therapy that works synergistically with a healthy lifestyle, including proper nutrition and regular exercise.
How Does Acupuncture Help in Weight Loss?
Acupuncture can aid in weight loss by regulating hormone production, enhancing metabolism, optimizing digestion, reducing inflammation, suppressing appetite, reducing water retention, and optimizing other physiological functions associated with obesity and weight loss.
1. Improves Digestion
It is possible to improve the functioning of the digestive system and even increase the amount of nutrients taken in by the body by using stomach and kidney acupuncture points. You can treat constipation, bloating, and other gastrointestinal difficulties that may keep you sedentary or lead to fat deposition by preventing delayed digestion and increasing gut health.
2. Reduces Inflammation
Inflammation or tension in the gut, muscles, and other body parts can decrease metabolism, strain the immune system, and even affect heart health and digestion. Acupuncture for weight reduction helps reduce oxidative stress and optimize your body’s ability to shed excess pounds by alleviating tension and modulating the immunological response.
3. Stops Water Retention
Water retention in the body is reduced by stimulating the neurons of the kidney and endocrine system. Preventing your body from accumulating excess water is an effective approach to lose weight and keep it off.
4. Hormone Production
If your hormone levels are out of balance, numerous physiological processes, including digestion, cognition, healing, and immune system function, can be negatively impacted. The spleen and the Shen Men point in the ear are effective acupuncture points for harmonizing hormone levels.
5. Boosts Metabolism
Stimulating the thyroid region with needles can improve the function of the pituitary gland, one of the main metabolic organs. This can increase the rate of fat burning, making your exercises and daily activities more effective at burning calories and aiding in weight loss.
6. Improves Mood
Acupuncture can stimulate the release of endorphins, which are feel-good hormones that can quickly relieve tension and anxiety. Many individuals overeat when their stress hormone levels are elevated or when they feel overburdened. Acupuncture can assist in eliminating these cravings.
7. Sensitive Points for Acupuncture
When it comes to acupuncture for weight loss, there are several important body areas that should be targeted. As previously mentioned, areas associated with digestion and food intake, such as the stomach, kidneys, and mouth, are particularly essential. Acupuncture for the thyroid and endocrine systems can also help regulate hormone levels and ensure correct energy flow in the body, as well as improve appetite and metabolic rate. The lungs and spleen are also essential acupuncture points for weight loss, but the ear is the most important and unexpected acupuncture point for weight loss.
8. Ear Therapy
In recent years, acupuncture ear therapy (also known as auricular acupuncture) for weight loss has received considerable attention, as a number of studies have demonstrated that ear therapy results in significant weight loss. The ear is one of the areas of the body with the highest concentration of nerve endings that connect to the rest of the body. There are dozens of specific points on the ear that can affect your health, which has been meticulously researched and recorded over thousands of years.
Also Read: How To Calculate Percent Loss of Weight?
What Does the Research Say?
Several studies have examined the potential of acupuncture for weight loss and have yielded interesting findings. In a 2015 study involving 50 participants, both manual acupuncture and massage were found to significantly reduce body weight and body mass index (BMI).
Another study from 2015 conducted in Japan discovered that acupuncture on the ear area led to changes in the levels of ghrelin, a hormone linked to hunger, resulting in reduced body weight compared to a control group.
A 2019 review and meta-analysis focusing on Asians indicated that acupuncture effectively reduced waist circumference and BMI, and when combined with diet and exercise, it also reduced weight.
Furthermore, a 2020 review comparing acupuncture with sham acupuncture for obesity demonstrated that genuine acupuncture resulted in significant reductions in body weight and BMI, challenging claims that its effects are solely due to a placebo effect.
Additionally, a 2016 study revealed that combining acupuncture with metformin, a medication used for high blood pressure in type 2 diabetes, was more effective than metformin alone in terms of weight loss and insulin sensitivity in diabetic individuals.
Finally, a 2017 meta-analysis highlighted that acupuncture, whether used alone or alongside lifestyle interventions, led to a significant reduction in BMI.
Why Might Acupuncture Help with Weight Loss?
Acupuncture practitioners and advocates firmly believe in the ability of acupuncture to regulate the flow of energy known as “qi” or “chi.” According to their perspective, this regulation of qi helps restore balance and counteracts the biological mechanisms that contribute to obesity. By strategically placing thin needles at specific sites on the body, acupuncture stimulates nerves and organs responsible for energy and metabolism regulation, including the endocrine system and thyroid glands.
It is believed that these targeted stimulations can have an impact on a person’s weight and assist in weight loss efforts. While acupuncture has been traditionally used to address a wide range of health issues beyond pain management, emerging evidence also suggests its influence on the nervous system and connective tissues, further supporting its potential benefits in various aspects of well-being.
Acupuncture is a complementary treatment that some individuals utilize for weight loss purposes. Studies indicate that acupuncture has the potential to decrease BMI and body weight by addressing mechanisms associated with appetite and energy metabolism. While acupuncture is generally considered safe, it is crucial to seek a licensed practitioner to ensure safety and efficacy. It’s important to note that multiple sessions may be required to observe noticeable results, and the cost of treatment can vary depending on the specific program or practitioner.