Acupuncture For Weight Loss, Does It Work? Experts weigh

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Let’s face it, some people will try just about anything to lose weight. From classic methods like cutting calories and increasing exercise to less conventional practices like cryotherapy and hypnosis, there are countless techniques for weight loss (okay, a lot of them are modes!). Another one that people who like alternative methods talk about * a lot * about? Acupuncture for weight loss.

Fans and practitioners of acupuncture claim that the practice can help relieve stress, physical pain, allergies, and even PMS, but can it really help with weight loss, too? Keep reading to find out if acupuncture can help you lose weight, according to experts.

Can Acupuncture Really Help You Lose Weight?

Here’s what we know: There isn’t a lot of evidence that simple, old-fashioned acupuncture will directly help you lose weight. “Acupuncture is not magic,” says Daniel Hsu, licensed acupuncturist and founder of the acupuncture practice AcuHealth in New York City. “It doesn’t melt your body fat.”

That being said, acupuncture can help reduce stress and increase feelings of happiness, which can indirectly help a person more effectively pursue their weight loss goals. There are also studies that suggest that ear acupuncture (also known as auricular acupuncture) may help people lose weight. “Auricular acupuncture is used to help reduce food cravings in people,” says licensed acupuncturist Alan Genitempo, DACM, LAc, owner of Recover Acupuncture & Sports Rehab.

Ultimately, there just isn’t enough conclusive scientific evidence to say either way at this point, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try acupuncture while you’re losing weight if it helps. interested. “There’s data that shows it helps and data that shows it doesn’t help, we’re not sure,” says Charlie Seltzer, MD, a Philadelphia-based weight loss specialist. “And whenever we don’t know, we look at the risk and the benefit. In this case, the benefit of acupuncture is potentially high, and there really is no risk if you do it in the hands of a qualified practitioner. ” Note.

How exactly would acupuncture work for weight loss anyway?

Acupuncture can stimulate the release of certain chemicals in the body like serotonin and endorphins, also known as “feel good” hormones that we need to live normal and happy lives, explains Genitempo.

So, if you are looking to feel a little better in general, acupuncture may have potential benefits. Because of these mood benefits, it’s plausible that you can more effectively reach your weight loss goals if you’re in a positive frame of mind. But this indirect link between acupuncture and weight loss is only a theory; it is not proven.

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As for ear acupuncture? The idea is that cravings are largely memory-related, he explains, and when we crave something it’s because we remember that a certain taste makes us feel good. Because the ear is located near the hippocampus (an area of ​​the brain that plays an important role in memory), doing acupuncture in the ear helps stimulate the cranial nerves associated with choking these cravings. memory-induced. However, Genitempo notes that more research needs to be done.

Would you need to combine acupuncture with a nutritious diet and exercise to see the benefits of weight loss?

Acupuncture alone will not be the reason you experience a weight change. Even participants in the few studies available associated their acupuncture treatments with lifestyle changes, such as getting more exercise and eating a healthy, balanced diet.

Basically, the impact acupuncture can have on your weight loss goals goes beyond the treatment itself, says Dr. Seltzer. If you commit to receiving acupuncture treatment, you may subconsciously eat less, sleep better, or feel more relaxed in general, he says.

These are all habits that, in turn, would help a person lose weight, demonstrating that acupuncture may play a more secondary role in weight loss rather than being the primary determining factor. So while this might not be the magic cure you were looking for, if you are looking for other ways to add weight loss practices to your routine, this is still a major benefit.

How many acupuncture sessions would you need to do to lose weight?

If you are wondering if one session is enough to achieve impressive weight loss results, wait. Think of it this way: you wouldn’t see results just going to the gym once, either.

Hsu and Genitempo generally recommend that patients seeking to lose about 10 to 15 pounds of weight receive treatment for six to eight weeks, several times a week at first, and then reduce visits over time as the treatment progresses. process.

Acupuncture may play a more secondary role in weight loss rather than being the primary determining factor.

“It depends on the person,” says Genitempo. “Some people have an incredible propensity to respond to treatment and some don’t. Much of this is physical and psycho-emotional. How emotionally do you adhere to it? You must be late. it’s 100 percent. “

TLDR; consistency and belief are the key (hello, placebo!). If you are trying to make a change, you will need to regularly incorporate acupuncture and other lifestyle changes in order to see results that last for the long term.

So, is there any harm in adding acupuncture to a weight loss routine?

If you’re eager to add acupuncture to your weight loss regimen and can afford it (a single session can cost anywhere from $ 70- $ 200 +), Dr. Seltzer says it’s worth it. to try. Negative side effects are unlikely, and at a minimum, you will leave each session feeling more relaxed than before.

Having said that, Dr Seltzer says you should consider this before you drop your hard earned money on treatments: “Acupuncture can be a useful tool, but there are other avenues that have more research behind them, such as eat in a calorie deficit or be active. a little more, ”says Dr Seltzer. “For someone with limited resources who wants to do something to lose weight, gaining a basic understanding of how nutrition works and calorie balance will be a better value for the money than acupuncture.”

In general, if someone thinks that acupuncture improves their quality of life, it could lead them to make better diet and exercise choices, which could ultimately help them lose weight. However, we have yet to see substantial data proving that receiving acupuncture * treatment alone * leads to weight loss.

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