A question that is often asked at our clinic is “Can acupuncture help me lose weight?”. It is a valid inquiry and also a major health concern throughout society. Now you may have noticed that the title of this article states weight management as opposed to weight loss and there is good reason for this – being unable to put on weight can be just as problematic for your health as putting on too much weight. The short answer is yes, Chinese Medicine can assist with weight management and this article will explore how Chinese Medicine (through both acupuncture and herbal medicine) can assist with weight management.
The most important thing to get out of the way is that there is no magic pill for weight management. Getting treatment to help with weight goals does not mean it is reasonable to go off and indulge in a hedonistic eating lifestyle. The use of acupuncture and herbal medicine to assist with any weight management will only amplify the amount of effort a patient places into their weight goals. For example, if a patient wanted to sincerely lose weight and was changing their diet and also incorporating regular exercise then the use of Chinese Medicine can assist with the amplification of results.
Wanting to put on weight (not muscle mass though it can be a bi-product) is another area that Chinese Medicine can assist. It can be an interesting psychology as to why a patient would want to put on more weight (for layman who are not privy to medical knowledge) however it has a lot to do with body image. While many are quite aware of people who want to be thin developing disorders such as anorexia nervosa, there is also the opposite side of this coin which can see someone develop something akin to body dysmorphia (the obsessive belief that some part of the body is imperfect); in short, having excess weight or a lack of can lead to psychoemotional disorders.
Chinese Medicine is effective at assisting with weight management as it deals with strengthening the spleen (a more in-depth article about the spleen can be found here). Think of the spleen as a factory. If the workers are happy then everything goes smoothly, if the workers go on strike then the deliveries (food eaten) will not be unpacked but rather left to pile up (fat build up) or they will simply exit the body (bowel movements). A rather simplistic overview of the scenario however it illustrates why having a strong functioning spleen is key to maintaining a healthy weight. There are many other elements involved however the article is best kept simple though it is recommended you ask your practitioner if you are curious.
Of course as mentioned earlier, the most important factor to success is lifestyle (diet and exercise). A lack of physical movement will stun the internal function of many of the organs and lead to symptoms such as constipation, bloating, a heavy feeling in the limbs, easy bruising, an overall feeling of lethargy, poor concentration/memory and anemia (more so in women). We have previously covered good diet and those articles can be found here and here.
In summary, Chinese Medicine can be very effective in assisting with weight management when coupled with proper diet and exercise. Body image plays a large role in this particular field as having excess or insufficient weight can lead to serious health problems both physical and psychoemotional. If you would like assistance with your health goals please do not hesitate to contact us.