Acupuncture for Weight Loss, Revisited

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This Thursday, I will be giving a presentation on Chinese medicine for weight loss at the YMCA Greendale Family Branch in Worcester. They are sponsoring a group weight loss contest based on the Biggest Loser television show.

The timing of the talk coincides with the many inquiries I’ve been getting from patients (and potential patients), asking me if acupuncture can help with weight loss. The short answer is yes. However, the full answer is much more complicated. You can read more about it in my September blog post (As an aside, Spring is a much better time than Fall or Winter to start a weight-loss program, since your body naturally tries to store up extra calories in the cool weather).

Once thing you can do to improve your experience when you go to an acupuncturist for weight loss is to make sure you have realistic expectations. I have seen several patients who try acupuncture once or twice and the quit when they don’t see results. Would you go to the gym twice and expect to have lost weight? Would you take a vitamin twice and think you should immediately have more energy?

Acupuncture is a process. The acupuncture needles are merely messengers, trying to stimulate your body into getting back on track. It is subtle, which is part of why it is safe. Be wary of anything that promises overnight results.

My friend Tracy, an acupuncturist at Manchester Acupuncture Studio in New Hampshire, has a great philosophy. She tells her patients that acupuncture can help them to get healthier in general, and that weight loss can be a positive “side effect” of this improved health. I have started to tell this to my patients as well, steering them away from the weight-loss mindset and toward a more holistic approach to overall health.

That being said, here are some results my patients have reported as a result of regular acupuncture treatments: fewer cravings, reduced appetite, desire to eat healthier foods, improved bowel regularity, less bloating and water retention.

Next week, I will post some of the self-help techniques for improving digestion that I am sharing with the Biggest Loser group.

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