Acupuncture for Weight Loss – Does it Work?

Let’s talk about how we can use acupuncture for weight loss. Now, what is acupuncture and from where it originated? Is it helpful? Or we can say, it is one of many other myths that will trap us into something which was ultimately not intended for weight loss. Are there any side effects of acupuncture? Can we do acupuncture at home? Is it cost-effective? How many pounds can be shed when we opt for acupuncture for weight loss? Is acupuncture safe? Or it poses serious health hazards? Are there any contraindications to acupuncture? All this and many other questions will be answered today while exploring, acupuncture basics and it’s a methodology for weight loss.

Why are we looking for weight loss?

So, first of all, why are we looking for weight loss? Why does it mean so much to us? Are we caught in the trend of losing weight and becoming size zero? Are we actually obese? Do we actually need to lose weight?  First of all, you need to answer that. Nowadays, looking lean is so overrated that we forget about healthy weight, which is wrong. One should maintain his or her body weight according to his or her height with a different distribution of fat in different parts of the body. One should look like a healthy and happy person instead of an under-weight individual. Way too weak person is labeled as malnourished or underweight instead of beautiful. Certain psychological disorders are associated with weight loss. 

For example, Anorexia nervosa is a disorder in which a person becomes malnourished. The person eats nothing in fear of getting obese while actually he or she is having calorie deficiency, leading to malnourishment. This disorder is common among young girls, especially in teens. Bulimia nervosa is another disorder in which there is self-induced vomiting to prevent the absorption of food so that a person can’t gain weight. 

These vomiting not only remove food but also stomach acids and other contents from the body. This can ultimately lead to malnutrition. So, don’t follow weight loss tips and tricks blindly. First of all, you need to understand what do you need to lose weight? Calculate your Body mass index and if your weight exceeds your healthy body mass index then go for weight loss strategies.

What is Acupuncture?

Let’s see what this hustle is all about. Now, what is Acupuncture? Acupuncture, as the name indicates, is something related to puncture or piercing. This method is in practice for almost over 2000 years in China. Now, it has spread worldwide. There are sessions held for the specific duration of acupuncture specialists. First of all, your acupuncture specialist will do an inspection. Inspection mainly involves analysis of face and tongue. 

Acupuncture specialist’s main focus is on different characteristics of the tongue-like shape of a tongue, size of tongue and how it varies from normal. After the assessment of the face and tongue, the acupuncture specialist will listen for any specific sounds like wheeze to figure out a diagnosis. This listening of particular sounds is known as olfaction. 

Your acupuncture practitioner will take a detailed history of your current issue for which you are referred to him. He can ask about any difference you feel in your daily routine like sleep cycle, eating patterns and bowel habits. After evaluating your current issue, its chronicity and your desire to achieve specific results, he will palpate any area in which you are complaining of pain. After palpation of the tender area, he will feel your pulse. After that, he will suggest a few sessions. You have to follow these sessions and abide by rules as specified by your acupuncture specialist.

Setting of acupuncture

In Acupuncture, the person who has specialized in this field has a specific type of settings for this procedure. Most of the time, there is a dark room with some soothing music played on. You are asked to lay down in that room. Few very thin needles are passed through your skin into your body. Normally 7 to 21 needles are passed through skin in the body. These needles are made up of steel so they don’t break or undergo rusting. 

Mostly, they are half-inch to five inches in length. Very thin needles require some guided instruments as they can break easily. Though needles made up of steel are used mostly, but it varies in different states. In Korea, needles made up of copper are used. The length and diameter of needles vary depending upon their area of insertion too. For example, the face requires thin needles as compared to the belly.

Manual acupuncture is commonly used in which needles are inserted manually by acupuncture specialists. Fire needle acupuncture and electro-acupuncture are sometimes used. That sounds scary but in reality, it doesn’t hurt. As few very thin needles are passed through different areas of the body, a person is asked to sleep or lay down still for half an hour or so. Timing and number of needles vary depending upon your active complaint and your Acupuncture specialist. 

There are sessions of acupuncture a few days a week. Sessions number and duration is also dependent on your acupuncture specialist. In addition to very thin needles, some specialists use magnets during acupuncture. They say magnets control aura or parts of the human brain by creating their field. After some sessions of different duration, the person active complaint for which he or she has started acupuncture resolves.

Origin of acupuncture

Acupuncture has its origin from China in 100 BC. Acupuncture remained a famous healing technique in China in different eras. After that, people from Korea started learning acupuncture. With time, acupuncture has spread all over in western countries especially Europe. This method is in practice for almost over 2000 years. It is not a scientifically based research. It is traditional and based on philosophy.

How to use acupuncture for weight loss?

Now, how to use acupuncture for weight loss? The methodology is the same. Acupuncture technique is the same but for weight loss, your specialist will target specific points of the body. Acupuncture helps in losing weight by various following ways:

  1. It increases the metabolic rate

Acupuncture helps in weight loss by increasing metabolic rate. When metabolic rate is increased, food is digested easily and properly at a faster pace, thus fat is not deposited.

  1. It reduces appetite

Acupuncture helps in weight loss by reducing appetite. Some acupuncture practitioners use magnets in-ear as a technique that sends signals to the brain when the person feels hungry, thus reducing appetite. It also reduces the craving of certain foods. (2)

  1. It affects the hunger center

Acupuncture helps in weight loss by affecting the hunger center in the brain.

  1. It affects the satiety center

Acupuncture helps in weight loss by acting on the satiety center.

Mechanism of acupuncture for weight loss

According to Chinese ancient knowledge, obesity is due to disturbance in body metabolism. In Acupuncture, a specialist will target certain organs of the body that he will consider are not functioning properly. Which organ they will target, depends upon the patient history and Body mass index. Commonly targeted organs are spleen, liver and thyroid gland. The kidney is also a target organ by few acupuncture specialists. A number of acupuncture points vary depending on your acupuncture specialist.                                                                                                  

Acupuncture specialist targets areas rich in innervation. By acting on nerve-rich areas, they get access to different organs. Acupuncture needle causes pain and injury to the site of insertion to give body signals so the body responds in the desired way.

The theory behind Acupuncture is that the human body is filled with energy that is giving us life. This energy is called ‘qi’ in the Chinese language. Chinese believe that any illness or impairment in body function is due to disturbance in energy flow. So, they believe that one should control and re-direct ‘according to requirements. They believe if qi is flowing well, all is well. Chinese believe Acupuncture is all about balance. So, by focusing on different areas in which there is fat deposition, acupuncture specialist targets that area and help you lose pounds.

Response to acupuncture

Acupuncture is not a magic bullet. People respond to acupuncture differently. Some show rapid results. For others, it took multiple sessions to show some beneficial results. Some people feel energetic while others may feel tired. There are no hard and fast rules that should be followed while monitoring response to acupuncture. Everyone is different so everyone responds differently. However, the common factor is happiness. People feel better and positive changes in mood and behavior after acupuncture sessions. (3)

Where can I find an acupuncture specialist?

You can find acupuncture specialists online. Some sites can help you find a licensed acupuncture practitioner. As acupuncture is a specialized technique, it requires proper education and training. To become a licensed acupuncture specialist, one needs to clear the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine exam. This exam is used worldwide for licensing acupuncturist. Some states, however, have their licensing system. California is an example of such a state.

Another way of finding a licensed acupuncture specialist is by the help of others. If someone in your friends, family or colleagues is seeing some acupuncture specialist and having beneficial results, you can visit that acupuncture specialist too.

Additional benefits of Acupuncture

  1. Pain in neck

Acupuncture is reported to relieve pain in the neck.

  1. Headache

Acupuncture is supported for the treatment of headaches.

  1. Backache

Acupuncture relieves backache in people with chronic complaints of backache.

  1. Osteoarthritis

Acupuncture can relieve pain in patients with osteoarthritis.

  1. Smokers

Acupuncture helps in getting rid of smoking habits in chronic smokers.

  1. Drug addiction

Acupuncture helps in getting rid of drug addiction.

  1. Positive attitude

Acupuncture helps in creating and then maintains a positive attitude towards life.

  1. Depression

Acupuncture helps in alleviating depression. The person feels happy, content and positive towards life after undergoing acupuncture sessions.

  1. Allergies

Acupuncture helps in dealing with allergies.

  1. Wound healing

Acupuncture helps in wound healing.

  1. Sinus pressure

Acupuncture helps in relieving sinus pressure.

  1. Sprain

Acupuncture helps in the treatment of sprain.

  1. Stroke

Acupuncture helps in the treatment of stroke.

  1. Fibromyalgia

Acupuncture helps in the treatment of pain in fibromyalgia. So, it is beneficial for patients who are suffering from pain in fibromyalgia that is not relieved by any other medication. (1)

Some evidence supports that the acupuncture technique has helped people with the complaint of acne, diabetes, infertility, and schizophrenia.

Types of acupuncture

There are different types of acupuncture that are practiced nowadays in different states. Few examples are:

  1. Electric acupuncture
  2. Fire needle acupuncture
  3. Cosmetic acupuncture
  4. Scalp acupuncture
  5. Veterinary acupuncture
  6. Bee venom acupuncture
  7. Hand acupuncture
  8. Manual acupuncture (this is the most common type)

Acupuncture related practices

There are many practices related to acupuncture nowadays. Some of them are acupressure, auricular therapy and cupping therapy.

There are few conditions in which acupuncture is contraindicated. Some of these conditions are:

  1. Cancer
  2. Infection
  3. Psychosis
  4. Bleeding disorders like hemophilia
  5. Burns
  6. Patients with a pacemaker implanted in the heart

Side effects of acupuncture

  1. Bloodborne Infections

Bloodborne infections can be transmitted through contaminated needles like hepatitis B and C are transmitted through blood route.

  1. Injury to organs

Needles if inserted wrongly or deep can cause injury to the organs.

  1. Pneumothorax

Needles if placed deeply in the chest area can cause injury to lungs leading to pneumothorax. (4)

  1. Bacterial and viral infections

Bacterial and viral infections can be transmitted through needles. Mycobacterium is reported to spread in acupuncture techniques. So proper sterilization techniques should be followed or needles should be used just once.

  1. Spinal cord injuries

Spinal cord injuries are reported in people undergoing acupuncture.

  1. Heart injuries

Heart injuries are seen in few people undergoing acupuncture.

  1. Brain injuries

Brain injuries in people undergoing acupuncture are seen due to migrated needle.

  1. Peripheral nerve injuries

Peripheral nerve injuries can occur in people undergoing acupuncture.

Precautionary measures while using acupuncture for weight loss

So, which precautionary measures should be followed while using acupuncture for weight loss? Many things should be taken into account but as a person undergoing acupuncture, you need to focus on these two:

  1. Licensed practitioner

Be conscious while opting for acupuncture that you have specialist acupuncture. He must be trained and experienced. He should have a practicing license. (6)

  1. Cleanliness of needles

Your acupuncture specialist should have some sterilizing procedure or needles especially allocated for you as infected needles can cause infections like Hepatitis B and C is transmitted commonly through blood route.

Duration of acupuncture

Five to seven weeks with two to three sessions per week is commonly practiced duration for acupuncture. The number of sessions reduces as you are close to achieving your goal. The number of sessions is also dependent on your acupuncture specialist and active complaint. It is also related to the severity of your active issue for which you have opted acupuncture. (3)

Cost of acupuncture

Now, how much an acupuncture session costs? Well, it is quite an expensive procedure. In some countries, your insurance will cover the expenses of acupuncture. If your insurance is not providing you cover for acupuncture then in America you have to pay 125 dollars per session to your acupuncture practitioner. In California, it will cost you 88 dollars. Acupuncture expense varies in different countries but the average lies between 70 dollars to 130 dollars per session. (5)

Can we do acupuncture techniques on our own?

 What if an acupuncture practitioner is not present in your city? Can you do it on your own? The answer is a big no. This is a specialized technique that should not be practiced in the home. You can use its alternative that is acupressure. Acupressure is the same use of strategic points in body but instead of needles, we apply pressure to specific points in the body. Acupressure can relax your body but it has no role in weight loss.

The Bottom line

 After all this discussion about acupuncture, we have realized that acupuncture is designed for pain relief and treatment of ailments. It is an old traditional way based on the philosophy of qi. It can be used for weight loss as it can increase the metabolic rate by targeting specific organs through needles. It can reduce hunger through the use of magnet in ears. It helps out in weight loss but it is not a magic bullet. 

You can’t totally depend on acupuncture to lose weight. You need to reduce your serving size and eat a balanced diet. Regular exercise is mandatory. Besides that, a long duration is required if you are opting for acupuncture for weight loss. Not only a long duration, But Acupuncture also is not cost-effective. One session of acupuncture costs you more than many days in a proper gym. So, try acupuncture that how it works for you but don’t forget two basics: balanced diet and exercise.

References

  1.     https://www.webmd.com/fibromyalgia/acupuncture-fibromyalgia#1
  2.     https://www.healthline.com/health/acupuncture-how-does-it-work-scientifically
  3.     https://www.shape.com/weight-loss/tips-plans/i-tried-it-acupuncture-weight-loss
  4.     https://journals.sagepub.com/home/aim
  5.     https://home.liebertpub.com/publications/medical-acupuncture/233/overview
  6.     https://www.liebertpub.com/loi/acu
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