Acupuncture can help you lose weight using a holistic, multi-level approach
For many people, the holidays signify a deep sense of tradition, belonging and celebration—we spend time with our families, we strengthen our faith, and we give to others. Unfortunately, the holidays can also signify a time of excess—we use more energy, we buy more stuff, and we eat more food. Trying to make healthy food choices amidst all of the cocktails parties, cookie exchanges, and holiday feasts can challenge the best of us, and by January we might find ourselves resolving once again to lose weight and get fit. If this sounds familiar, you are not alone. Year after year, “losing weight” ranks as the number one New Year’s resolution in America. People join diet programs and gyms, hire nutritionists and personal trainers, and harness all of their will power with the hope of losing fat and gaining health.
With so many people in pursuit of weight loss, I am often asked if acupuncture can provide help in shedding unwanted pounds. Certainly, the importance of a nutrient-dense, whole foods diet and consistent exercise can not be understated. These practices, along with adequate sleep and stress management, are the most powerful cornerstones of health and optimal body weight. That being said however, there are several other factors that can contribute to weight gain and obesity by causing dysregulation in the hypothalamus, including hormone imbalances, gut dysbiosis, chronic stress, and inflammation. Because acupuncture has the ability to regulate the hypothalamus, it may be an effective adjunctive therapy for weight loss in these circumstances.
The hypothalamus is the portion of the brain that is responsible for maintaining “homeostasis” or physiological balance. It achieves this balance by coordinating the activities of the autonomic nervous system and the pituitary to regulate hormones, neurochemicals, circadian rhythms, body temperature, thirst and hunger. If physiological communication to and from the hypothalamus is disrupted, this can cause a misfiring of signals which can ultimately result in weight gain.
Acupuncture may help restore proper functioning of the hypothalamus through a variety of mechanisms, but one of particular interest is the ability of acupuncture to influence the secretion of obesity-related hormones. A study by Güçel et al. (2012) measured the effect of acupuncture on hormone concentrations in 40 overweight women. After the 5-week study, it was found that acupuncture had positive effects on the concentrations of leptin, ghrelin, insulin, and cholecystokinin. These hormones play important roles in appetite regulation, fat accumulation, energy intake, and metabolism, therefore cumulative modulation of them through acupuncture may help individuals lose weight.
Because acupuncture has a regulatory effect on the hypothalamus and autonomic nervous system, it can be a powerful addition to other weight loss strategies by curbing appetite, suppressing food cravings, boosting metabolism, improving digestion and elimination, enhancing nutrient assimilation, balancing obesity-related hormones, and supporting the liver in metabolizing fats. Furthermore, acupuncture may increase smooth muscle tone in the stomach, which helps people more readily identify when they are full, so they are less likely to overeat.
So, “why weight?” Consider adding acupuncture to your weight loss regime, in order to give yourself every advantage to be successful. Alchemy Acupuncture & Apothecary wishes you a clean, lean, and healthy 2017!
Jami Rose L. Ac., Dipl. O.M. • Alchemy Acupuncture & Apothecary • www.alchemyacu.com