Most patients who come to see me describe their primary complaint as being pain-related: chronic low back pain, cervical pain, headaches, etc. After several treatments and noticeable relief, many patients will then ask, “Can acupuncture help with weight loss?” My response is yes, but I also stress that treating weight loss, just like treatment for smoking cessation, requires a partnership between the practitioner and the patient. I provide an appropriate acupuncture treatment based on the individual’s pattern presentation, taking their entire self into account, and the patient must do what she or he can in aiding the treatments. For example, we all know when it comes to weight loss that exercise is a key component. I like to refer to exercise as a way to “move your body’s qi,” your body’s vital energy that circulates within various channels. By moving your body’s qi, you are increasing your body’s ability to do work, such as metabolize foods more effectively. In addition, it’s important to consider changing the foods you eat and when you eat them. Again, this is a very individual-driven effort. I can help by making some Chinese dietary suggestions. Like Chinese medicine generally, Chinese food therapy is based on balance. Too many damp foods can cause damp accumulation and stagnation. Balance also stems from how and when you eat your food. Do you eat at a table, in a quiet room? Or do you eat in your car or while at the computer? Do you eat in hurry or when you are sad or angry? All of these examples can have a direct effect on your digestive process.
Weight loss can be extremely difficult for some because many people have an emotional and even addictive relationship with food. Some people may eat when they are not physically hungry but because they are “stressed out.” Some people cannot stop thinking about food and find relief only when they have eaten or, most likely, overeaten. And often there are feelings of guilt after such a meal. Acupuncture can be helpful in treating these types of food cravings, by helping to decrease the degree of cravings the patient feels and by helping the patient learn how to relax. Once the cravings decrease, it’s possible to get deeper into the issues of why these eating habits formed in the first place. In these types of cases I may refer the patient to an experienced therapist in this field.
Chinese medicine sees each personal as an individual, with his or her own unique pattern presentation. And when it comes to weight loss, each person has a unique relationship with food. That relationship means an individualized treatment plan based on the pattern presentation at hand is a must. If you have followed my blog (thank you if you have!), you know that individual attention and unique treatments are almost always my focus.