As the days get shorter and the holidays get shorter, the prospect of seasonal weight gain looms. Can you prevent the inevitable cycle of weight gain and loss, or the denial and guilty indulgence that goes on and on?
Fortunately, a balanced, systematic approach that includes acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can offer a solution.
Unlike extreme diets, which can indeed result in rapid weight loss but tend to create rebound rapid weight gain that often exceeds the loss, acupuncture works to fine-tune the body to operate more efficiently. This is no different than how tuning into your car to ensure it is running properly can prevent problems before they occur.
There are three ways in which acupuncture can help you lose weight - and keep it off for good.
Metabolism is something often discussed in weight loss literature. Some people can eat indefinitely and not gain weight, while others have difficulty losing weight even on the strictest diet. This is often attributed to one's metabolism. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the concept of metabolism is referred to as the "inner fire" or Yang, a force that also helps keep the immune system strong and gives a sense of constant energy and zest for life. People with Yang deficiency are prone to depression, fatigue, low libido, constant colds, bloating and many other symptoms. Boosting Yang, or stimulating metabolism, involves keeping the digestive tract "warm" and producing enzymes that break down food into usable energy. A healthy digestive tract does not suffer from gas, bloating, heartburn or frequent burping. These symptoms, along with the constant feeling of fatigue after a meal, are a sign that your body is not processing food efficiently and an indicator of Yang deficiency. Acupuncture and herbs can address this problem by tonifying Yang and restoring healthy metabolic function.
Second, acupuncture helps with weight loss by offering a paradigm shift in what is truly healthy eating. According to TCM, there are constitutional types and patterns of strengths and weaknesses from birth that are strengthened or exacerbated by life choices. Understanding your constitutional type is critical to a successful diet plan. Often patients struggling with weight loss actually try very hard to stick to a plan that ignores their constitutional type by including too many "cold" raw foods that sabotage their metabolic "fire". Eating plans should be individualized with nutrient-rich, satisfying, easily digestible foods that can prevent cravings before they occur. Cravings are a sign of internal imbalance rather than lack of willpower and are a good indicator of what is wrong internally.
Finally, there are well-documented benefits of acupuncture of reducing stress, improving sleep and reducing pain, all of which contribute to improving hormonal balance and reducing the "stress hormone", cortisol, which is associated with weight gain. Poor sleep also reduces the body's stores of ghrelin and leptin, two hormones associated with appetite suppression. An additional benefit of feeling better is that the habit of "comfort eating" to calm the emotions is reduced, and cravings for unhealthy foods are gradually replaced by healthier choices as the body appreciates their positive effects.