Does Acupuncture for Weight Loss work?
Though the practice of acupuncture stems from traditional Chinese medicine, it has become well-known in the West, and is considered a viable, valid choice for many health-conscious individuals seeking to address their ailments, including the state of being overweight. Versions of acupuncture are practiced in many Asian countries, like Korea and Japan. However, the Chinese version is considered the "original," and most respected. Acupuncture can be defined as the use of very fine, specially cleaned needles inserted into very specific points on the body. Interestingly, the tradition of acupuncture recognizes over 2,000 such points.
Basic Theory Behind Acupuncture
The Chinese medical tradition states that two opposite energies known as yin (inactive and cold) and yang (warmer and more active) rule the body. When yin and yang are balanced, a person's qi or life-force is able to flow properly along its prescribed paths or meridians. An imbalance between the two forces disrupts the flow. Therefore, disruptions in the meridians must be addressed in order for a person's vital energies to move to the places where they are supposed to go, and keep organs functioning well. This is where the acupuncture needles come in, quite literally. Particular problems are ascribed to specific disruptions in a certain meridian, and the needles are inserted into the meridians to check the disruption.
Acupuncture treatment can have a wide range of possible impacts, either soothing or stimulating a person, quite appropriately for a technique that focuses so closely on vital energies. This depends not only on the points targeted by the needles, but on the individual nature of the patient. After all, not every patient is the same, and all bodies cannot be counted upon to react identically to the same procedure. It is theorized that these effects happen because the needles target a person's nerves.
Acupuncture and Weight
Acupuncture has been used as an aid to weight loss, usually by placing up to five needles in and around the ear. These particular points are believed to target and relax the kidneys, liver, lungs, and nerves. Stimulation of these points may also help release endorphins, which can facilitate a feeling of well-being.
Acupuncture procedures have been formulated to help people avoid eating too many carbohydrates, and to lower the appetite in general. According to a study described in the publication Acupuncture Today, a group of women put on a diet and exercise regimen, plus acupuncture, lost more weight than the control group, which had regulated diet and exercise, but no acupuncture. The research project in question specifically studied women whose Body Mass Index (BMI) was at least 27.
The Other Side
Then again, there are those who make the contrary assertion, which is that more research should be done before displaying such opinions to the public.
The British Medical Acupuncture Society thinks that sustainable weight loss is achieved through fundamental changes in the way people eat and exercise, and that acupuncture alone cannot have this kind of effect, thought it may support other steps. In addition, the World Health Organization does not have weight loss or management among its list of ailments or concerns that can be addressed/alleviated by acupuncture.
Other research has not shown results that conclusively prove a link between acupuncture and weight loss. For example, the Columbia University Physician's College compared a control group (no acupuncture) and an experimental group (which underwent acupuncture) in a study. However, it turned out that there was no major appreciable difference between the progresses of the respective groups. The loss of fat and weight, plus the blood pressure, of both groups was essentially the same, whether or not acupuncture was involved.
Then again, many health and diet experts think that acupuncture can help to boost other steps people are taking to lose weight. For example, it can help a person stick to their diet. Acupuncture can relax the patient, which means they will be less tempted to overeat due to stress. If a patient is on an exercise regimen, acupuncture can help soothe tiredness and pain, so that the person can keep exercising.
If you would like to try out acupuncture as a way to help you lose weight, do consult your physician first. Ask your physician if there may be any health risks to you from the procedure, especially if you have any special health conditions. This is advisable, even though acupuncture seems to be quite safe. Patients also experience little discomfort, except for a small sting at the exact place where the needle goes in.