How Acupuncture Can Help People Lose Weight for the Summer
The weather is warming up, and before long, it will be time to hit the beaches and the pools. That means it’s time to shed that extra winter weight, for your waistline and for your health. It’s no secret that excess weight is a risk factor for many serious, chronic conditions. Even a small amount of weight loss (5 to 10 percent of total body weight) can improve critical cardiovascular and immune functions.
For many, though, losing weight is a battle. They need all the help they can get to tip the scales in their favor, literally. Acupuncture can provide that support, as it shows significant promise in promoting weight loss.
How Do Licensed Houston Acupuncturists Administer Treatment?
Acupuncture involves lightly inserting thin needles in specific areas of the patient’s skin. These needles are extremely fine and designed to work without causing pain or discomfort.
Although the exact mechanisms of acupuncture aren’t completely known, Houston practitioners believe that the treatment helps regulate the flow of energy through the body. By inserting acupuncture needles in the right spots, Houston practitioners attempt to release any blocked energy channels and ensure all organ systems receive the nourishment they require.
During an acupuncture session, the Houston practitioner will target specific points for needle insertion. Trained acupuncturists have learned how to get favorable results for certain conditions by targeting these points. This is a primary part of acupuncture education.
The acupuncturist may adjust and move the needles slightly during treatment, in response to how the patient is feeling. This is to optimize efficacy and minimize any discomfort.
Acupuncture and Weight Loss – the Research Behind the Treatment
Acupuncture has been used for thousands of years in treating a variety of health conditions, including excess weight. While more research is needed in this area, there are a handful of studies that demonstrate acupuncture’s promise in supporting weight loss. They include:
- A study published in Medical Acupuncture that looked at 20 overweight women. The women were separated into two groups. Both were put on a 2,000-calorie diet and a 15 minute-a-day walk regimen. One group also received ear acupuncture sessions (15 minutes) on a weekly basis.
After a follow-up, researchers found that the group who received ear acupuncture lost more weight. On average, it was a difference of seven pounds (10 pounds vs three).
- A 2019 review in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. In this review, the researchers analyzed numerous clinical and animal studies. The researchers found that acupuncture regulated a couple of hormones associated with weight loss, including ghrelin and leptin.
- A 2017 study published in Acupuncture and Electro-Therapeutics Research. In this study, 55 overweight women were separated into two groups. One received body acupuncture and the other received ear acupuncture for weight loss. Treatments were administered weekly, and after a 12-week follow-up, researchers found that the group that received ear acupuncture lost more weight than the group that received body acupuncture. The difference was about eight pounds, on average.
- A 2019 study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. This study followed 60 overweight women and split them into two groups. One group received sham (placebo) acupuncture, while the other received true ear acupuncture.
After six weeks of treatment, the group that received ear acupuncture experienced a reduction in waist circumference.
- A 2018 meta-analysis published in Obesity Treatment/Alternative Medicine. This meta-analysis looked at 27 trials published prior to June 2017. In all, the analysis included 2,219 patients. After analysis, the researchers determined that acupuncture and lifestyle modifications were more effective than just lifestyle modifications alone.
How Does Acupuncture Work for Weight Loss?
The evidence for acupuncture and weight loss is mounting, but what are the underlying mechanisms driving the results? Researchers have several theories, and it’s likely that the exact drivers are different for each patient. Some of the proposed reasons for acupuncture’s effectiveness include:
- Better hormone regulation – Hormone signaling is heavily involved in how the body stores calories and how it operates its metabolism. There are numerous hormones implicated in both, and if they are out of balance, weight gain can be the result.
Acupuncture has noted effects on hormone balance in the body and is used for an array of endocrine disorders for this reason. With better hormone regulation, patients experience fewer food cravings and are driven to consume fewer calories.
- Reduced stress – Stress and anxiety are both associated with weight gain. Stress encourages the body to release cortisol, a hormone that slows the metabolism down and increases appetite. Worse, cortisol increases the intensity of cravings for sweet and salty foods – the kind most likely to be packed with calories.
Acupuncture is a proven stress-reducer, and many studies have confirmed its efficacy in this area. The mindful, relaxed nature of acupuncture gives patients an opportunity to de-stress and control their cortisol levels.
- Better overall health – Acupuncture can reduce pain, improve sleep, boost immune function, and provide an array of additional health benefits. Together, this can help people feel well enough to tackle their weight loss regimen with maximum effort.
Acupuncture’s ability to stimulate the nervous system and support mindfulness are likely both playing into the treatment’s effectiveness.
Ready To Slim Down for the Summer? Acupuncture Can Help
Many people who struggle with weight loss feel like they can’t shed the extra pounds no matter what they do. Acupuncture provides hope for those patients and has an impressive research record.