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Obesity Journal: Acupuncture Effective For Weight Loss

(PressZoom) – A recent study came to the same conclusion that many people have already arrived at: that Acupuncture is an effective weight loss tool. With more and more people adding acupuncture to their weight loss regimen, what was needed was a critical assessment of the studies that have been performed.

The International Journal of Obesity published a review of 31 studies on the efficacy of acupuncture in the treatment of obesity. The systematic review was comprised of 3013 individual cases where acupuncture was used to reduce body weight.

The aim of this review was to critically assess evidence for reduction of body weight and to evaluate adverse events of acupuncture therapy based on the results of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that evaluate the effect of various types of acupuncture therapies.

The results of this review showed that compared to control of lifestyle, acupuncture was associated with a significant reduction of average body weight (95% confidence interval, CI) of 1.72 kg (0.50–2.93 kg) and was associated with an improvement in obesity (relative risk=2.57; 95% CI, 1.98–3.34). Acupuncture significantly reduced a body weight of 1.56 kg (0.74–2.38 kg), on average, compared to placebo or sham treatments. Acupuncture also showed more improved outcomes for body weight (mean difference=1.90 kg; 1.66–2.13 kg), as well as for obesity (relative risk=1.13; 1.04–1.22), than conventional medication.

While this review did show that acupuncture is an effective treatment for obesity, the researchers expressed that they would like to see more well-planned, long-term studies to address the effectiveness of acupuncture for treating obesity and weight loss. Acupuncturists eagerly await such a long-term study, and its results.

How Asian Medicine Views Weight Loss

Classic Asian Medicine suggests that, at its root, excess weight is due to an imbalance between the digestive system and the liver, where its ability to process toxins is compromised by stress, lifestyle and poor diet. At times this disharmony manifests as fatigue, slow metabolism, water retention and a feeling of heaviness. Liver disharmony can also cause some of the “triggers” that lead to cravings and compulsive eating.  The two greatest risks to obesity in our culture remain the proliferation of chemically saturated/junk food and a lack of exercise—or, what I call “having a CAO” (computer assisted obesity).

From a Western perspective, acupuncture has an effect on the function of the nervous system, endocrine system, digestive system, food cravings, and metabolism. These all help to energize the body’s circulatory system, maximize the absorption of nutrients, regulate elimination, control overeating, suppress the appetite, and reduce anxiety. 

Treatment, which usually is scheduled once or twice per week,  typically includes a combination of auricular (ear) and body acupuncture, as well as ear tacks or pellets to leave on in-between treatments. Supplements, breathing exercises, and food and lifestyle recommendations are common.  Short term Hypnotherapy has also been shown to be effective in helping people make shifts in unhealthy lifestyles, which include easily and effortlessly changing eating and exercise habits.

Source: International Journal of Obesity, January 2009; Acupuncture for obesity: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

Cheers. Dan

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