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Does Acupuncture Help With Weight Loss?

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Does Acupuncture Help With Weight Loss?
Health And Wellness

The experts know best.

Can acupuncture for weight loss actually work? Though it seems hard to believe, there is evidence to suggest that acupuncture successfully assists with weight loss. The body is very honest; your lifestyle, your diet, and the amount of exercise you get are all reflected on your body.

According to Jennifer S. Bak, LAc at Active Therapy Center, "In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the main idea is to find a balance in everything. That includes your diet — the amount of calories you consume and the amount of calories you burn have to be equal. If you take in more calories, your body is like a bank and will take those calories as a deposit in terms of weight gain." 

But what does that have to do with acupuncture? Well, there is no magic button or pill that will create the perfect body, and that does include acupuncture. However, it it does help.

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“When used in conjunction with a healthy diet and regular exercise, many have seen positive and lasting results from regular acupuncture sessions to help lose and control weight,” says acupuncturist Panos Ioannou of Acuworx.

So, how exactly does acupuncture for weight loss work and what are the additional benefits?

1. First, start at the origin.

"When I treat patients for weight loss, it's not always black and white. It's very important to get to the root cause of the weight gain. What are the patient's overall lifestyle and diet? Is it a digestion issue? Are the intestines absorbing too much nutrients or not absorbing enough nutrients? Is it a stress or hormonal imbalance issue?" Bak questions.

2. Figure out how your brain works.

“Sessions including needles (with and without electric stimulation) one time per week, and 'ear seeds' in between sessions can help the body fight cravings and overall hunger,” says Ioannou. Ear seeds can be used by squeezing and activating the pressure point to reduce food desires and are generally switched out at each weekly visit.

3. Acupuncture can release stress as well.

A lot of times weight gain and stress are linked. According to Bak, "That's because when we're stressed, we tend to experience chronic sleep deprivation, which leads to an increase in cortisol levels."

That makes our body crave sweets, fat and junk food — anything that gives you energy quickly. When our body thinks it's stressed, it also tends to want to save fat. This completely throws your body out of balance, affects your metabolism, and the functions of many of your organs.

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"I use acupuncture to first address the root problem, which is stress. Then I treat different systems in the body that correlate to weight to stimulate their functions, like the stomach and liver. Some acupuncture points can help stimulate metabolism and help control appetite as well. I also use ear seeds that help stimulate points correlating to hunger, thirst, stress, liver, and stomach functions," says Bak.

4. It's more than just weight.

There's a lot that can be going on when you gain weight, and acupuncture can actually help with many of those things.

“Weight gain can come from a variety of issues. Looking into the realm of functional medicine, weight gain may be due hormone imbalance, bad gut health, or stress inducing high cortisol levels. Acupuncture can’t magically help people lose weight, but can help resolve some of these underlying issues. Studies have shown that acupuncture combined with diet and exercise can help patients lose about an additional pound a week,” advises Dr. Tom Ingegno, DACM, who owns an integrative medical center in Baltimore, MD.

5. Shift your energy.

"Acupuncture is great for getting blocked energy to move through the body more effectively," says health, wellness and fitness expert, Michael Kuang of Syphon Fitness. Still, he cautions it's not going to work on its own: "I still believe that the body needs to be moved as well, whether you are doing acupuncture or not."

6. It's all part of a larger plan.

“In short, incorporating regular acupuncture and cupping sessions into your wellness plan can help detoxify the body quickly and assist in weight loss and maintenance, while keeping all elements of your chi in balance and harmony with one another,” warns Ioannou.

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Aly Walansky is a NY-based lifestyles writer. Her work appears in dozens of digital and print publications regularly. Visit her on Twitter or email her at alywalansky@gmail.com.