Did you know that, according to the CDC, 71.6% of the American population is either overweight or also living with obesity?
These percentages are unnerving, and they are rising every single year.
As many people are caught up in this unhealthy trend, they are trying everything they can to lose some weight and live a healthier lifestyle.
From workout programs to dieting to weight loss pills to plastic surgery to juice cleanses, there are a wide variety of different things that people do to shed some pounds.
But what about acupuncture?
In recent years more people are turning to acupuncture to help them lose weight and to aid them in the right direction to live a healthier life. But does it work? Is it effective? Is acupuncture for weight loss something you should consider?
In this article, we are going to talk about acupuncture for weight loss and how it can be an effective alternative to other weight loss methods. So you can evaluate and make the best choice for you and your health and weight loss goals.
Let’s get started . . .
What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture, a common Eastern medical practice, has seen a recent uptake in use over the years in the United States because of the plethora of studies and data proving that the inclusion of acupuncture can assist in preventive measures and the treatment of a multitude of symptoms and disease processes in combination with Western or conventional medicine. Want to know more? Read: What is Acupuncture?
What Are Overweight and Obesity?
Crucial attention within the scientific community has been placed on one complex health issue, which has been categorized as the leading preventable cause of death in the US and worldwide, accounting for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). What is it? Obesity.
But how are obesity and overweight defined? The CDC uses Body Mass Index or BMI to define and identify if a person is struggling with either obesity or being overweight.
A person can also be identified as underweight as well. For example, a person who is underweight is anyone who has a BMI under 18.5%.
The normal range of BMI is anywhere from 18.5% to 25%.
A BMI of 25%-30% is considered overweight.
If a person has a BMI of 30% or higher, it is considered obese.
Wondering how BMI is calculated? BMI is calculated by converting your weight from pounds to kilograms; then you divide that number by the square of your height in meters. If you would like a fast way of calculating your BMI, check out this calculator.
So yes, the CDC uses BMI when calculating and identifying if a person is underweight, within a normal weight range, overweight, or obese. But it’s not all about numbers. It’s also about overall health, feeling good about you. And a weight that aligns with your health and wellness goals.
And today, we are looking into whether or not acupuncture can help you achieve your weight loss goals.
So, next, let’s take a look at what research can tell us about acupuncture and its effectiveness for weight loss. . .
Does it Work?
Researchers and health practitioners are looking to acupuncture as a weight loss alternative, as well as into the effectiveness of acupuncture for weight loss and how it can work for achieving health and weight goals.
Acupuncture for Losing Weight when Overweight
For example, in a 2018 review of 32 clinical trials with 2,219 patients, it was found that the inclusion of acupuncture in the overall weight loss plan can help an individual achieve weight loss of those that fall in the overweight classification by the CDC; a BMI of 25%-30%.
Acupuncture for Losing Weight and PCOS
Obesity can be considered a condition on its own, but there are times where it is also a symptom of other health conditions. This is true for Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). If you are experiencing obesity as a result of living with PCOS, acupuncture may be the right choice for your health and weight loss goals.
There was a trial in 2016 of 17 overweight women with PCOS. Over the course of five weeks of electroacupuncture (EA) treatment, the participating women experienced improved:
- Glucose regulation and adipose tissue androgens
- Insulin sensitivity and modulated adipose tissue gene expression
The review concluded that ‘. . .acupuncture has favorable effects in overweight patients who have PCOS.’
Acupuncture for Weight Loss and Overcoming Obesity
In 2015, a study was conducted to help research the effect of acupuncture on body weight reduction — particularly for those living with obesity. The results of the study showed that ‘Body acupuncture in combination with diet restriction was found to be effective for weight loss and also a reduction of the inflammatory reactions. Acupuncture could be used as a synergistic treatment option for obesity control.’
A second study on acupuncture for weight loss and obesity supported this conclusion when acupuncture is used as a method to help with weight loss for those living with obesity, ‘…acupuncture is an effective treatment for obesity and inferred that neuroendocrine regulation might be involved.’
What about ear acupuncture for weight loss?
Ear Acupuncture for Weight Loss
Auricular acupuncture, also known as ear acupuncture, has been shown to aid in weight loss. The needles are inserted into key points within the ear, especially in areas that are linked to hunger and appetite.
It is a therapy that helps to control appetite and lessen body weight by suppressing ghrelin production in our bodies. This was demonstrated and researched in a pilot study that found; There was a statistically significant difference in the percentage change in body weight and active ghrelin levels in each individual participant in auricular acupuncture groups. This is a pilot study, and the sample number is small; however, auricular acupuncture may reduce appetite by suppressing ghrelin production.’
Can ear magnets help me lose weight?
Ear magnets can help you lose weight because it boosts the blood circulation within your body, and can help decrease body mass index. Ear magnets also can make your body more energetic, moving, and active, which can aid weight loss and burn calories.
Are there side effects?
Ear magnets are not known to have negative side effects as of right now. As more research is done and more studies are conducted, this may change, but as of now, they are not thought to have complications or side effects.
What about abdominal acupuncture for weight loss? Can it be effective?
Abdominal Acupuncture for Weight Loss
Abdominal acupuncture supports the internal organs and meridians and has been shown to be a successful treatment for weight loss. It helps to increase blood flow and circulation in your internal organs, which helps them to function properly and to increase levels and effectiveness of physical fitness. It also stimulates and strengthens the digestive system, which allows you to digest food better. This leads to a reduction in appetite and lowers belly fat.
How Many Sessions?
The number of sessions of acupuncture that are needed varies for each individual. It is the discretion of the licensed practitioner to decide how many sessions will be required. If you want to lose 10 to 15 pounds or more, then you may need several treatments a week for about 6 to 8 weeks. The number of sessions that you have per week may start to lessen as the weeks go on, especially if you are starting to lose weight already. You do not want to lose weight too quickly to the point where it may negatively affect your health, so your acupuncture practitioner should be monitoring how much weight you are losing and how often your treatments are.
Costs per acupuncture treatment vary based on your location, possible discounts that the practitioner offers, and if your insurance covers it or not. For your first acupuncture session, you will most likely have a consultation and medical exam as well as the acupuncture treatment, so it will probably cost about $120 to $240 for that first session. Treatments after that may cost around $75 to $160 per session.
Here are some average costs per session based on the city for acupuncture treatments without insurance:
- New York City: $300
- Phoenix: $75
- Los Angeles: $120
- Denver: $125
- Las Vegas: $70
- San Francisco: $150
- Miami: $120
- Chicago: $95
- Houston: $160
Frequently Asked Questions
Does acupuncture work for weight loss?
Acupuncture does work for weight loss for a variety of reasons. It can increase your metabolic rate temporarily and suppress appetite for a period of time, which can help to control food cravings and regulate appetite more effectively, leading to healthier digestion. Acupuncture helps to lower stress and relax the body, so you will be less likely to increase your cortisol levels and overeat due to stress. Endorphins are released during acupuncture treatment as well, which will help you to feel fewer aches and pains. This can help you feel better overall and will allow you to partake in physical activity more often.
Does laser acupuncture work for weight loss?
Based on several studies that have been conducted between laser acupuncture and weight loss, it has been shown that laser acupuncture could be an effective treatment of obesity. Laser acupuncture is non-invasiveness and does not cause any pain, and has an easy application during treatment. It has also been shown during studies that low-level laser therapy can be used for body contouring and spot fat reduction.
Does acupuncture treat obesity?
Acupuncture has been proven to help treat obesity and to help people lose weight. It can help to regulate appetite, lead to healthier digestion, increase metabolism, and reduce stress, which can help you lose weight on an emotional level. The neural activity caused by the acupuncture also stimulates muscle activity that can help people lose weight.
How many acupuncture treatments will I need to start losing weight?
The amount of acupuncture treatments before you begin to lose weight depends on each individual person. You definitely won’t notice drastic results after just one session, but after going to several sessions each week for a few weeks, you should most likely begin to see weight loss results. It is always recommended to ask the acupuncturist about their recommendation for the frequency of acupuncture treatment and number of sessions based on your personal needs.
How much will acupuncture for weight loss cost?
The cost for acupuncture for weight loss varies based on a variety of factors, such as location, possible discounts, and if your insurance covers the treatment or not. You will most likely pay around $75 to $160 per each session without help from insurance.
How long does it take for acupuncture to work?
Every person is different, so the amount of time it takes for acupuncture to work is different for everyone as well. Some will notice relief even after just one session, while others may take a few sessions to feel anything. On average, it will take one or two sessions a week for about five weeks to see significant results from acupuncture treatment.
Other CAM treatments for weight loss
These healing modalities may also be effective with weight loss:
- Martial arts
Before getting started with acupuncture for weight loss, be sure to talk with your physician or medical professional about getting a proper medical diagnosis and what treatment recommendations are appropriate for your condition.
Work with a professional acupuncturist in your area to determine how acupuncture may best help you and the frequency of treatment that’s right for you.
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