This is probably one of the most commonly asked questions in the clinic. The short answer is, no, not really. But keep reading! Sometimes practitioners of Chinese Medicine will market their services as something that can aid in weight loss in order to attract customers. The modern world is obsessed with losing weight and “fixing” our bodies in an attempt to find a happier, more fulfilling life. As someone that is a firm believer in the health at every size movement, it’s so hard for me to approach the question of weight loss with an answer that feels authentic and complete.
Basically, only a very small percentage of the population have actually been designed to healthfully maintain a shape and size that fits in to the cultural “ideal.” It seems as though many people want to lose weight and they’re not even entirely sure why. Aesthetics? Health? Some advertisement told them to? Because everyone else does? Much of it has to do with the fact that we have all been brainwashed to believe that this is something we are supposed to want. But I digress. Now, I will address how acupuncture can lead to overall better digestive health, which can lead to either returning to or maintaining a healthy body weight.
The most important aspect in addressing weight issues is determining the root of the imbalance leading to excess weight.
A large portion of my job is focused on patient education. Before addressing any weight concerns, I always ask about a person’s diet. One of my patients recently thought I was suggesting a diet when I said this (this is not at all what I mean!!). All I mean by diet is, what you typically eat day to day. I aim to ensure that my patients know that what they’re eating is vitally important to how their whole body is functioning. This does not mean eating only “healthy” foods. This means incorporating a wide variety whole foods while allowing oneself to enjoy treats as well. It’s important that patients be honest about what they’re eating so that I can make the best recommendations for them.
Outside of what people are eating, acupuncture can aid digestive function in a number of ways. Regular treatments build up areas of deficiency and disperse areas that are stuck or stagnant, thereby creating a harmonious balance in the body resulting in optimal digestion.
Another key component in working with digestive function/weight management/loss is determining stressors people are experiencing. Busy schedules can mean that we’re not appropriately nourishing ourselves and/or assimilating our food. Eating on the run or rushing through a meal can majorly disrupt our body’s ability to digest. Acupuncture can help to build up a digestive system that has been depleted by years of this. Thereby reducing symptoms such as; bloating, nausea/vomiting, heart burn, constipation and diarrhea.
Often times when people are actually overweight, it is because they are overeating in an attempt to numb out painful emotional experiences (sometimes this happens because we haven’t been nourishing ourselves enough throughout the day so when we finally do eat, it’s a free for all). So I first make sure that people are eating enough of all different kinds of foods so that they are not left feeling depleted. If they are properly nourishing themselves and are still experiencing overeating episodes frequently, acupuncture can help to reduce stress so that these overeating episodes occur less frequently.
Acupuncture is never a bad idea, but I don’t want to give people false hope. Don’t hesitate to mention any weight or digestive concerns you might have or contact me with further questions.