When it comes to weight loss, many feel that desperate times call for desperate measures. Case in point: Failure in the face of diet and exercise often leads dieters to unconventional weight-loss methods — cyrotherapy, hypnotism, and yes, even acupuncture.
It’s said that acupuncture can alleviate stress, physical pain, allergies, addictions, and even PMS, but can it really aid weight loss too?
The answer isn’t a resounding yes, but it isn’t a no either, according to experts.
“Obviously, we have a huge obesity epidemic and we’re trying to find any way to help people lose weight,” says Dr. Reshmi Srinath, an assistant professor of medicine, endocrinology, diabetes, and bone disease at Mount Sinai. Unfortunately, she notes that there aren’t enough controlled, randomised studies proving a direct link between weight loss and acupuncture.
Dr. Srinath notes that there’s data showing a direct correlation between pain alleviation and lowered stress levels, and, as we’ve pointed out in the past, stress is linked to weight gain.
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One of the few studies done on this subject, published in The Scientific World Journal in 2012, found that 196 obese subjects who received acupuncture, the majority did lose weight over the six-week trial period, but only when treatment was coupled with diet restriction.
“Acupuncture isn’t magic,” says Daniel Hsu, licensed acupuncturist and founder of New York AcuHealth Acupuncture practice. “It doesn’t make fat melt off of your body, but studies show it can affect the part of the brain that feels hunger.”
In addition to reducing hunger, Hsu says that acupuncture activates your “feel-good” neurotransmitters, which can reduce stress, and possibly help you lose weight as a result of that lowered stress. The exact process differs from patient to patient, but a lot of points on the ears are related to curbing hunger, he says.
How many sessions would you need to do for weight-loss benefits?
And if you’re wondering if one acupuncture session is enough to see results, think of it this way: You wouldn’t see results from going to the gym one time either. Generally, Hsu recommends that patients seeking weight loss of around four to seven kilos should receive treatment for six to eight weeks, several times a week in the beginning, and taper off visits as time passes. In order to see success, he emphasises that you have to be in the correct mindset.
In general, if someone feels that acupuncture improves their quality of life, then that might lead them to make better choices regarding diet and exercise, which ultimately, could help them lose weight. However, we’ve yet to see any substantial data that proves receiving acupuncture treatment alone correlates to weight loss. According to the experts, it’s best to seek acupuncture in order to alleviate other ailments that might be standing in your way.
This article was originally published on www.womenshealthmag.com