One issue that is thought about and discussed quite frequently is the goal of losing weight and keeping it off.
This could be for any number of reasons… for health, to get rid of the baby weight, or maybe we just want to feel confident in our own skin, look attractive to the opposite sex, and overall feel good about ourselves.
While consistent diet and exercise will provide most people what they are looking for, we still want some kind of “boost” or short cut that gets us to our end goal of looking great that much faster.
This is where we hear about acupuncture as a treatment to help people take off the pounds.
Most of the research on acupuncture for weight loss revolves around auricular acupuncture, which involves needling certain points on the ear. Several nerves innervate the ear such as the auricular branch of the vagus, the glosspharyngeal nerve, vestibulocochlear nerve, the second and third branches of the cervical spinal nerve, among others.
Interestingly, the vagus nerve (also known as the “wondering nerve”) is thought to interact with the cranial nerves and those of the digestive tract, as these nerves share a common path to the brain.
According to The American Journal of Acupuncture, they hypothesized that stimulation of the auricular branch of the vagus nerve causes disruption of appetite signals from the gastrointestinal tract, therefore decreasing those hunger pangs.
In addition, rat studies have suggested that stimulation of the ear regions associated with the ventromedial hypothalamus, affects satiety centers and leads to improved weight loss (in both obese and non obese rats* according to the study).
Research in previous years appears to show some proof of the efficacy of acupuncture yet we run into complications with the placebo effect in human research studies. The reason being, even sham acupuncture has a chance of producing some physiological or mental effect on the individual which may make them believe, “Yes, I am getting treated with acupuncture, yes, this is helping me lose the weight!” Even though the treatment is essentially “fake acupuncture”.
The same situation can apply to an individual receiving the real acupuncture. So how do we know what is really working, real acupuncture or sham? Acupuncture is tough to research in general, and is something worth exploring for the hot topic of weight loss.
On another note acupuncture can be excellent in reducing stress levels, which can contribute to over eating for some people. In this case, a patient with high anxiety levels who stress-eats may receive several benefits from acupuncture treatments.
Although some doctors and researchers out there think the research is skeptical for acupuncture (Is it really scientifically provento work for weight loss?), many people have touted the results of their treatments and have actually lost the weight.
While acupuncture is an excellent addition to any weight loss program, diet and exercise included, it should not be a complete & total replacement. As we know, exercise with a balanced, nutrient rich diet are also very important to allow us to look and feel our best!
Stay tuned for new Acupuncture CEU classes for Acupuncture and Weight Loss.