Acupuncture is the process of inserting needles at specific locations in the body to treat and prevent different types of medical conditions. It is a form of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) that has been practiced for several ages for stimulating the flow of energy in the body (Qi) and treating the root cause of the problem. According to reports given by the World Health Organization (WHO), more than one billion people all over the world were found to be overweight, and around four hundred million people were found to be obese. They have also projected that by the year 2015, the number for overweight people would increase to about two billion and for obese people, to seven hundred million. TCM and acupuncture play a vital role in addressing the concerns related to excess weight.
As per TCM, whenever there is malfunction in the spleen and liver organ, it will create an imbalance in the body, which could lead to weight problems. Spleen ensures that the digestive system functions normally and the food consumed is converted into energy (Qi- the life force). The liver ensures the smooth flow of energy and blood in the body. Improper functioning of the spleen and liver can cause disruption in the functioning of digestive system and decrease the metabolic rate, which in turn can lead to health concerns like slow metabolism, eating more and few others. In simple terms, there is an energy imbalance between the calories consumed and calories expended resulting in weight gain. To control the weight problems, acupuncture is becoming a commonly used method of treatment.
Acupuncture helps a person lose body fat by decreasing the food intake and thus reducing the calorie consumption by the body. On the other hand, it also increases the metabolic rate of the body and aids in burning more calories. Acupuncture stimulates the release of hormones called endorphins that help to reduce the body fat and insulin levels. Besides this, endorphins also have a soothing and relaxing effect and thus decrease the stress and anxiety levels in a person, which is thought to be a leading factor that causes overeating. Acupuncture, when done along with regular physical activity and healthy eating habits, is very effective in reducing the excess weight and maintaining it. It helps to diminish a patient's cravings and curb appetite.
The most common form of acupuncture treatment used for weight loss is ear acupuncture. In this, the ears are stapled at two different locations using a thin wire and the patients are required to keep it on for generally three to six months, or as suggested by the practitioner. This treatment stimulates the Zero point location in the patients and thus increase their metabolism and reduce the appetite. The aim of this treatment is to improve the flow of energy (or Qi) in the meridians, or channels, throughout the body.
In 2003 the Journal of Medical Acupuncture conducted a study on the weight loss achieved through acupuncture and the results were very promising. The results show that the weight loss in persons who received acupuncture treatment was three times more than the person who did not receive it. The net conclusion was that it suggested that ear acupuncture when done at specific points along with reduced calorie intake and increased physical activity is a very effective approach in the treatment of weight loss.