Obesity has become a global epidemic. It is not only a health problem on its own, but it is also linked to many serious conditions. Fortunately, there is an effective and natural solution to fighting obesity: Acupuncture. A review written by researchers from China confirmed that this traditional Chinese medicine – both alone and in combination with healthy lifestyle changes – is effective in treating obesity. The results of their meta-analysis were published in The American Journal of Chinese Medicine.
Making healthy lifestyle changes, such as adhering to a healthy diet and being more physically active, is important in managing obesity. In addition, acupuncture therapy is also believed to help with weight management. Therefore, the Chinese researchers examined the effects of acupuncture alone and in combination with lifestyle changes on obesity. To accomplish this, they selected 23 studies on acupuncture that involved a total of 1,808 participants.
The researchers reported that treatment with acupuncture alone resulted in a significant reduction in body mass index (BMI). When combined with lifestyle modifications, acupuncture produced a similar result. The researchers also found acupuncture therapy safe as none of the participants withdrew from the trials. Based on these findings, the research team concluded that acupuncture alone or in combination with healthy lifestyle changes is an effective treatment for obesity. (Related: Acupuncture found to be an effective tool for weight control in adults.)
How acupuncture aids in weight loss
Acupuncture is a traditional healing practice that involves inserting fine needles through the skin at specific points in the body to enhance the flow of qi or energy. Here are some ways acupuncture aids in weight loss:
Reduces stress – Acupuncture slows the production of the stress hormone cortisol, resulting in reduced stress. Acupuncture also stimulates the release of the "feel good" endorphin hormones, which also counteracts excessive eating due to increased stress, frustration, or anxiety. So when people are less stressed, they are less likely to eat fattening comfort foods.
Boosting energy – Acupuncture improves the flow of energy, and this makes people more inclined to make better food choices. Additionally, people experience less joint pain and inflammation because of it. These two things lead to improved performance, a desire to exercise, and enhanced metabolism, all of which can contribute to weight loss.
Reducing inflammation – Inflammation is associated with weight gain, obesity, and diabetes, and one of the ways to reduce inflammation is through acupuncture. A study published in the Open Access Macedonian Journal of Medical Sciences showed that acupuncture can reduce inflammation and change the body composition of people who are obese. In the study, participants used acupuncture for three to six months to lose weight. At the same time, they followed a low-calorie diet. Doing these resulted in significant reductions in their creatinine, uric acid, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels.
Controlling appetite – In a study done by researchers from Hong Kong Baptist University, overweight participants received either real acupuncture or sham acupuncture for eight weeks. The results showed that participants who received real acupuncture lost an average of five pounds, while those in the sham group only lost a little over one pound. The researchers attributed the weight loss to acupuncture's ability to boost the production of serotonin and beta-endorphin. These hormones improve mood, increase fat breakdown, and suppress appetite.
People who wish to fight obesity with acupuncture should engage the services of a qualified acupuncturist and combine it with a balanced diet for best results.