~by Dr. Greg Steiner
CA Acupuncture & Chiropractic Clinic
How does it work?
Acupuncture can help weight loss in many ways. Success usually comes from a multi-faceted approach which involves measures designed to:
• Curb appetite
• Reduce cravings
• Boost metabolism
• Improve digestion
• Regulate obesity-related hormones
• Strengthen liver function for better digestion
• Reduce stress
It is the culmination of several techniques combined that produce the overall weight loss effect. There’s not one main acupuncture point that will do everything.
For example, many people eat because they are stressed. Oftentimes, it’s called “comfort eating” because they believe that certain types of foods will in fact make them feel better and eat them even when they aren’t really hungry. This is often a “psychological” response instead of “physical hunger”. There is a “need” to want to feel better or comforted. Acupuncture has been thought to help stimulate the release of endorphins, the body’s natural “feel good” hormones. This can create a calming, relaxing effect, which counteracts the need for excessive eating brought about by increased stress, frustration, or anxiety.
Stress is known to release the chemical cortisol. Cortisol is designed to help reduce inflammation, but if stress is too high and for a sustained period (like high pressure jobs, dealing with family issues, etc…), the body pumps out too much cortisol and imbalances occur. We see that tissues start to degrade faster; the immune system gets depressed, and combined with long term inflammation puts fat around the mid-section. That “spare-tire” develops. Too much stress alters brain chemistry and is strongly related to an imbalance in hormone function as well.
Cravings also make it difficult to lose weight. These come in many forms including sweet or salty, carbs and protein, or even specific cravings for a certain food. Often these cravings involve the ingestion of processed, de-natured food providing us with too many empty calories and an excess of carbohydrates. And because the body doesn’t get the right nutrients that it needs, the person can still be hungry after they eat.
Acupuncture can overcome these cravings by helping improve digestion. When digestion works more efficiently, the brain gets the message that the body has been fed, and with that message, reduces the cravings. The metabolic pathways work better and nutritional intake increases. There are a variety of acupuncture points that are very effective for overcoming cravings and even acupressure points that the individual can learn to do while at home, away from the clinic.
Hormonal balancing is also key to successful weight loss. Correctly balancing hormones such as estrogen, testosterone, the thyroid and insulin can improve the results significantly. If insulin is better balanced, the person is less likely to be reaching for unhealthy snacks during the day. When blood sugar fluctuations go up and down drastically throughout the day over a long period of time, insulin levels in the body can be severely affected. Studies have linked type 2 diabetes to this, which is largely preventable. We look at insulin as a fat storage hormone; too much of it makes the body gain weight.
How many visits will it take?
The length of treatment varies from one individual to another. Cravings control can actually come pretty quickly, ranging from the 1st visit to 2 weeks. Stress reduction is the next tier which usually occurs within 2-3 weeks. Hormone balancing is more complex and will take longer. One of the biggest advantages to using acupuncture is that there are no side effects or addiction and it’s a completely natural process.
Taking care of our body is like tuning our car. If you tune it up but don’t change the oil and run a bunch of garbage gas in there, you’ll have trouble. Look at the food we eat as the gas. Make it good.
The first step to weight loss is using acupuncture to help you to start feeling better. By combining proper exercise and eating healthy foods, you can create an upward spiral. Acupuncture can jumpstart the process and speed it along faster. Contact our office to set up your first visit and get started on your weight loss journey.