Is acupuncture really the next weight loss miracle? Find out here.
Let’s be real: losing weight isn’t always easy. In fact, it can be downright difficult and discouraging when it feels as though you’re doing everything right, yet the numbers on the scale just won’t budge. At times like these, it can be tempting to turn to alternative weight loss methods like acupuncture. But before you step up to get needled, it’s important to first assess exactly what acupuncture does, and how it can complement your efforts to lose weight.
How does acupuncture work?
According to Dr Richard Tan, principal resident physician and acupuncturist at the Department of Family Medicine, Sengkang Health, the theory behind acupuncture has been debated for centuries. Some hypotheses include the Gate theory where it is believed that acupuncture works through the nervous system to release endogenous chemicals such as endorphins to relieve pain. On the other hand, the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) theory believes in clearing stagnant Qi or blood that causes swelling and/or pain.
But no matter the theory, Dr Tan says that “acupuncture is beneficial as it may stimulate the release of your own body chemicals to help ease discomfort and correct any imbalances in the body due to bad lifestyle habits such as poor posture, eating unhealthily and not sleeping well. There are no artificial chemicals or toxic metals used in acupuncture, no risk of major side effects and no contraindications to most pre-existing chronic disease medications such as those for high blood pressure or diabetes that patients are currently on.”
How can acupuncture help one lose weight?
The jury’s still out on this as there aren’t really any controlled scientific studies where weight loss occurred as a direct result of acupuncture. In a small-scale study on 80 obese patients, those who received body acupuncture regularly for three to six months eventually ended up losing weight, but the treatment was also done in combination with a low-calorie diet. “Weight loss has to be gradual,” says Dr Tan. Acupuncture certainly isn’t a miracle solution for shedding excess kilos but when used together with conventional options to lose weight – think a healthy diet with lots of exercise – it can be helpful.
Dr Tan lists the ways in which acupuncture can complement one’s efforts to lose weight below:
– Reducing anxiety which causes one to binge eat
– Releasing serotonin, which is attributed to be an anti-depressant, resulting in having a positive outlook to curb emotional eating
– Releasing dopamine to help reduce alcohol intake and calorie intake (low levels of dopamine tend to cause people to overindulge their hunger cravings)
– Suppressing appetite with the release of beta-endorphins and serotonin
– Increasing metabolism with the release of above-mentioned chemicals
– Reducing body aches and pain to allow the person to return to doing regular exercise
If you’re keen to see how acupuncture can help you lose weight, speak to a doctor or registered acupuncturist to tailor a suitable plan for you. But remember, there are no quick fixes. “As in all conditions, I usually recommend that my patients do weekly or twice-weekly sessions, for a total of 10 sessions,” says Dr Tan. “You should be able to see results from the fifth session onwards.”