Obesity remains a top concern among health professionals in the U.S. According to a study published in the Journal of American Medicine (JAMA), more than one third of adults in the U.S. are clinically obese (source). People who fall under this category are more likely to develop heart disease, diabetes, and even certain types of cancer.
While there’s no substitution for exercise and a well-balanced diet, the ancient Chinese practice of acupuncture may promote weight loss in adults battling obesity. Numerous studies have reinforced the belief that acupuncture can aid in weight loss. So instead of embarking on a potentially dangerous “fad” diet, such as an all-liquid lemon detox diet, consider acupuncture treatment to assist in your weight loss efforts.
Dr. Burak Bahar at Turkey’s Ankara Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Training and Research Hospital conducted a study to determine the effect of acupuncture on patients who were clinically obese. Bahar and his team of colleagues found that acupuncture treatment resulted in lower levels of both leptin and insulin. So, why is this important?
Leptin is responsible for regulating the metabolism and storage of fats in the body, as well as creating the feeling of a full stomach. People who suffer from obesity tend to have exceptionally high levels of this compound, which subsequently stops them from feeling full after eating. By lowering levels of leptin, people who are struggling to lose weight will once again feel full; thus, promoting safe and natural weight loss.
Insulin works in a similar manner as leptin, only for carbohydrates instead of fats. Insulin also regulates the absorption of glucose in the blood.
“Acupuncture treatment decreased insulin and leptin levels and induced weight loss, together with a decrease in BMI compared with sham acupuncture. Furthermore, between-group analyses demonstrated increases in plasma ghrelin and CCK levels in subjects who received acupuncture treatment,” wrote Dr. Burak Bahar.
But the weight loss benefits of the acupuncture don’t end there. Acupuncture is known to reduce levels of the naturally occurring hormone cortisol. Produced by the zona fasciculata of the adrenal cortex, cortisol is known as the “stress hormone.” People with high levels experience greater stress and anxiety, which can lead to further weight gain. By reducing the levels of cortisol in the body, adults battling obesity will have an easier time shedding those unwanted pounds.
When asked if I can treat weight loss with acupuncture, most people are really just looking for a ‘magic needle’ to make the weight disappear; acupuncture isn’t some miracle weight loss procedure, nor is it touted as one. I always explain that, regarding weight loss, acupuncture treatments can balance the digestive system, increase the body’s metabolism, and help to de-stress (which can help those who eat for comfort). However, it takes time; treatments must be given regularly, combined with regular exercise and a well-balanced diet, in order for it to help significantly in getting adults back to a healthy, sustainable weight.