In an effort to shed those extra pounds, people try some crazy stuff. From the cabbage soup diet to only eating foods that are orange, the Internet is rife with get-skinny-quick cures. Acupuncture isn’t one of them.
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If you want to continue to indulge in a calorie-rich diet, no amount of needlework is going to undo the effects. There is a body of evidence, however, suggesting that for some people acupuncture therapies can reduce the urge to indulge, which makes it easier for dedicated dieters to slip back into their skinny jeans.
Acupuncture is a long-practiced facet of Chinese medicine. This ancient practice involves the strategic insertion of needles to particular points around the body. The belief is that this gentle, and generally pain-light, needle insertion positively affects the patient’s Qi, a life force that flows through the body.
Acupuncture devotees tout the practice’s ability to do everything from cure aches and pains to reducing food cravings and making the traditionally difficult process of losing weight easier.
Weight Loss Focused Treatment
While the specific course of acupuncture depends upon the practitioner, generally, acupuncture that is designed to help with weight loss focuses on the ear. It is believed that the ear houses acupuncture hotspots that control appetite and metabolic function.
In studies into the effect of acupuncture as a weight loss tool, researchers have inserted needles into various spots within the ear in an effort to stimulate these areas and, in doing so, reduce participant’s waistlines.
In the December 2013, issue of “Acupuncture in Medicine,” researcher Sabina Lim of the Graduate College of Basic Korean Medical Science presented her findings. During her study, she concluded that individuals suffering from mild obesity could benefit from the insertion of needles into the point in the ear tied to appetite reduction, while those with severe obesity showed positive results when needles were inserted into the areas tied to improving metabolic function.
In separate studies, researchers investigating the effect of acupuncture treatments found that patients who underwent acupuncture had an increase in the hormone ghrelin, which controls hunger, and a decrease in the hormone leptin, which promotes the storage of fat in the body.
As with nearly any treatment option, experts remain split on the benefits of this alternative approach. While most agree that there is no danger in trying acupuncture, not all are sold on its effectiveness.
As Dr. David Katz of the Yale University Prevention Research Center reminds, it can be difficult to determine whether people who were successful in losing weight using this approach lost their weight because the approach has scientific merit or if, instead, it can be attributed to the placebo effect. Particularly when using needles, placebo affect risks are high, Katz warns.
Tips For Success
Not all acupuncture is created equal. If you’re sold on the potential benefits of acupuncture, or at least sold enough to try it, make sure you go about it the right way. Select a qualified and licensed acupuncturist. Not only does being a bit choosey when it comes to your acupuncturist increase the likelihood that you end up with someone who actually knows what she is doing, it also increases the likelihood that the individual follows safety guidelines that are designed to prevent infection.
It is vital, as well, that you complete a full course of treatment. You’re not going to wake up the morning after your first acupuncture session transformed into a Victoria Secret’s model, so don’t expect to. Generally, a course of treatment is around 10 visits. If you are going to try this route, commit to this and see it through so you can make an informed decision as to the treatment’s effectiveness at the conclusion of the process.