Getting the Most Out of Acupuncture: Weight Loss and Digestive Issues

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Acupuncture and Chinese medicine can be helpful for weight loss and other digestive issues, like acid reflux, irritable bowel, or stomach pain. This article offers suggestions on how to get the most out of your acupuncture treatments for digestive disorders.

Pay attention to timing: Spring and summer are the best time to start a weight-loss plan* because we naturally eat less and eat lighter foods during this time (once the fall season arrives, your needs to store energy for winter, so it is best to give your body a rest from trying to lose weight). Any time of year is appropriate to address other digestive issues, and your acupuncturist can help guide you towards the foods that are most helpful for each season.

Keep a food journal: A food journal will help you to identify which foods are triggering your symptoms or cravings, so that you can avoid them.

Clarify the issue: If weight loss has been a problem for you, do you know why? Do you face severe food cravings, is your energy level too low to exercise, does your metabolism seemed to have slowed down? Each of these complaints will need a different treatment strategy, so tell your acupuncturist what issues you are facing. If you are suffering from other digestive disorders, make sure that you have had a complete medical checkup so that you know the root cause of your symptoms.

Be careful of dietary supplements: Most over the counter weight-loss supplements contain laxatives and caffeine, which can be hard on your digestive system. There are much more gentle traditional Chinese herbal formulas that can both encourage weight loss as well as strengthen the digestive system. There are also Chinese herbs and over-the-counter supplements for other digestive complaints; ask your acupuncturist for suggestions.

Be realistic: Many of my patients succeed in losing weight; they realize that to be effective, acupuncture must be combined with a healthy diet and some form of exercise. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs should be seen as another tool in your weight-loss toolbox, but are by no means miracle cures. Similarly, if you have digestive problems but you continue to eat foods that trigger your symptoms, acupuncture will be a band-aid solution at best. In either case, acupuncture can take several weeks to see a difference, so be patient—your acupuncturist will consult with you about the number of treatments necessary for your condition.

*Disclaimer: check with your doctor first

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