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Acupuncture Weight Loss? Plus 5 Step Weight Loss Plan
I remember back in my senior year of high school – my best friend since 5th grade lived in France. He wrote that they did not like Americans very much. “They think we’re all fat,” he said. Of course, with his own thin frame, he confounded their faith.
But he added a funny or perhaps ironic capstone to the issue. “I went to a store and they were selling statues of these fat people, and at the bottom of each one it said ‘American’.”
Obesity is not just an American problem. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it is a global problem. They call it globesity. Paradoxically, their understanding of this problem began with their original mission to eliminate hunger and malnutrition. We live in a world where many have nothing to eat and many eat too much. From 1995 to 2000, the number of obese adults worldwide increased from 200 million to 300 million. That’s a 50% increase in just 5 years!
What is obesity and what is overweight?
Overweight means an excess of body weight. This excess weight can be muscle, bone, fat and/or body water. Obesity specifically refers to an abnormally high proportion of body fat. You can be overweight without being overweight – for example, a bodybuilder or other heavily muscular athlete. But many people who are overweight are also fat. The main way to determine whether you are overweight or obese is with the body mass index (BMI). It doesn’t directly measure body fat, and it’s not gender specific, but it gives you a fairly reliable estimate.
To find your BMI, divide your weight (in kilograms) by your height in meters squared. Yes, for the math challenged, it’s complex, so I’ll give you a website that will figure it out for you, the National Institute of Health BMI Calculator (http://www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi/). This will tell you very quickly whether you are normal, overweight or obese, and it does all the calculations and metric conversions for you!
Overweight is defined as a BMI over 25 (including those over 30 BMI as well), and obese is a BMI over 30. So all fat people are overweight, but not all overweight people are fat.
The obesity epidemic
Obesity isn’t just about not feeling well or having trouble getting dates…
* It leads to more than 300,000 premature deaths each year in the United States. 90,000 are preventable cancer deaths. (CDC)
* Severely obese men die 13 years earlier than men of normal weight (JAMA).
* As a killer in America, obesity is second only to tobacco. (CDC)
The weight loss industry
* Cost: Americans spend between 40-50 billion dollars a year to lose weight.
* Results: I haven’t seen any recent news about Americans getting thinner – have you?
* Conclusion: What people are doing is not working. If we want different results, we have to try a different solution.
Acupuncture Weight Loss: Fantasy or Fact?
* Fantasy or fact? As a well-educated and fairly conservative practitioner of Chinese medicine, I had assumed that acupuncture for weight loss was a marketing fad and a patient fantasy.
* Evidence: But while researching my upcoming book Chinese Medicine: A Practical Guide to Optimal Healing, I found some surprisingly positive information that changed my mind.
Chinese Medicine’s Comprehensive Clinical Data on Acupuncture Weight Loss
Chinese medicine has thousands of years of clinical experience. These collective data are not as compelling as randomized controlled trials, but they contain truth—they are imperfect, but still valid and important.
A US government study in the 80s concluded that 85% of Western medicine is based on clinical experience, not research. (Office of Technology Assessment of the Congress of the United States, The Impact of Randomized Controlled Trials on Health Policy and Medical Practice, Background Paper OTA-BP-H-22. See also Michael Millenson’s book, Demanding Medical Excellence)
There is good Chinese medicine research in Taiwan, Australia and Europe that is being ignored by American scientists and the media. Much research in Chinese has not even been translated into English.
Seven studies of acupuncture for weight loss
How it works: By improving the function of two neuroendocrine pathways that regulate many bodily processes, including metabolism.
What it does:
* Lowers body weight, body fat, insulin levels and blood lipid levels
* Reduces excessive appetite and makes it easier to satisfy your hunger with less food.
* Reduces menopausal weight gain
* In one study, acupuncture shed 10 pounds in 2 months – that’s 60 lbs in a year!
* Combined with diet control and aerobic advice, it not only sheds the pounds and body fat, but keeps them off, especially if you are diligent about their training.
(See references at the end of the article for the research)
Ephedra abuse and misleading legislation
Ephedra is a Chinese herb for colds and coughs. It has been abused to increase metabolism and this abuse has caused numerous deaths. As a result, the FDA is considering a total ban on ephedra products. We can blame two important things:
1. Supplement companies that care more about your money than your health (no, it’s not all of them, but some of them are, especially those that market weight loss formulations).
2. The idea that you can safely medicate yourself with herbs – self-medication of any kind is risky. Self-medicating with herbs is off the radar and people generally believe they can do it safely. The ephedra debacle is an example of how dangerous it can be.
Traditionally, Chinese herbs are given in formulas (not individually), which is safer and more personalized. They are prescribed by a general practitioner who diagnoses your specific imbalances first. Ephedra will never be given for weight loss, but only for certain types of colds and coughs, and only to people whose bodies can handle it.
No traditional Chinese herbs should be banned without allowing Chinese doctors to continue using them traditionally.
* Problem #1 (Enzyme Deficiency): The foods you crave depend on your personal imbalances. Modern digestive science explains that when your body can’t digest a food, you crave more of it—you’re not getting what you need from it. This led to a cycle of cravings and overeating the food you cannot digest.
* Problem #2 (low blood sugar): Another vicious cycle occurs when you can’t digest complex carbohydrates, so your blood sugar is low, so you eat simple carbohydrates, which raise your blood sugar, which raises insulin, which lowers your blood sugar again. and you’re stuck eating donuts and feeling terrible.
* Solution: Enzymes (I recommend various enzyme formulations from a company called Transformations) and Chinese herbal formulas can help you digest your food and break both of these cycles
Weight can be lost safely if done slowly and naturally.
You can lose up to 2 kg per week without gaining it back. That means you can lose 104 lbs this year and keep it off!
Positive change is like stretching a rubber band – if you stretch too fast, it snaps or snaps back at you.
So avoid the temptation to take an easy fix like ephedra or citrus aurantium (both abused Chinese herbs) because you will gain weight back and risk heart problems and strokes.
5 things to do right now
To lose 10 pounds within 2 months
And keep them away:
1. Avoid heavily marketed supplements – see a professional trained herbalist (acupuncturist) instead – it’s safer and more effective – my preference would be a Chinese medicine practitioner, but some very well trained western naturopaths are also good.
2. Acupuncture Weight Loss: See an Acupuncturist/Chinese Herbalist – Get acupuncture (one to three times a week) to DEFINITELY regulate your metabolism and hunger satisfaction. Your acupuncturist can also get you the herbs that will balance your digestion and cravings – and based on your Chinese pattern diagnosis, they can also give you personal dietary advice. Herbs and enzymes (specific formulations from the enzyme company, Transformations) can eliminate your food cravings.
3. Develop a plan and goals with your acupuncturist and aerobics instructor – make it realistic and stick to it. If you mess up, don’t beat yourself up, just get back on track as soon as you can. Any progress is better than none at all.
4. Eat less, exercise more – Eat a low-fat diet and don’t skip breakfast! Weigh yourself regularly and exercise for an hour a day. Start by walking a few minutes every day, or take the stairs at work. Don’t overdo it! Remember the rubber band. In fact, it might be a good idea to wear a rubber band around your wrist to remind yourself to make changes slowly. Get help with aerobic training – a public class or private aerobics advice.
5. Join a support group like Weight Watchers or Overeaters Anonymous. There’s nothing like positive friends to cheer you up and keep you on track. OA members say this spiritual action program has changed the way they relate to food.
References and resources
1. Office of Technology Assessment of the Congress of the United States, The Impact of Randomized Controlled Trials on Health Policy and Medical Practice, Background Paper OTA-BP-H-22.
2. Michael Millenson’s book, Demanding Medical Excellence
3. Effect of acupuncture on weight loss assessed by adrenal function. Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine, 1993 Sep, 13(3):169-73.
4. Wozniak, P., Oszukowski, P., Stachowiak, G. and Szyllo, K. [The effectiveness of low-calorie diet or diet with acupuncture treatment in obese peri- and postmenopausal women] (in Polish). Gynecol.Pol. Vol.74 booklet 2 pp. 102-107. 2003
5. Acupuncture on spleen, stomach and Ren Mai channel points to treat stomach and intestinal full heat pattern Simple obesity. Abstracted and translated by Bob Flaws, Dipl. Ac. & CH, Lic. Ac., FNAAOM, FRCHM
6. Richards D, Marley J. Stimulation of auricular acupuncture points in weight loss. Aust Fam Physician. 1998 Jul;27 Suppl 2:S73-7.
7. Zhao, M., Liu, Z., and Su, J. The time-effect relationship of central action in acupuncture treatment for weight reduction. J Tradit Chin Med Vol.20 Issue 1 pp. 26-29. 2000
8. Liu, Z. Mechanisms underlying the effects of acupuncture-moxibustion on simple obesity complicated by hypertension. Inter J Clin Acup 371-378, 1995.
9. Surveys of the weight loss industry
10. Obesity prevalence and effect
11. Overeaters Anonymous
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