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Research Supports Acupuncture for Weight Loss

Research has found acupuncture to be an effective tool in both weight loss and suppression of appetite. While the most effective way to lose weight is diet and exercise, maintaining the weight loss requires lifestyle changes. Acupuncture has been shown to create physiological changes in the body that reduce body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, body fat percentage, blood sugar levels, and lower the levels of peptides like leptin and ghrelin that are involved in appetite control.

Here’s a look at the multiple ways that acupuncture can help with weight management:

Acupuncture Promotes Healthy Sleep

Chinese Medicine is very effective in treating insomnia and sleep issues. Studies show that sleep deprivation causes the brain to crave calorie-rich junk food. In chronic states of sleep deprivation, the stress hormone cortisol climbs, markers of inflammation rise, and hormones that stimulate appetite increase, while hormones that blunt it drop. People also become less sensitive to insulin, raising their risk of Type 2 diabetes.

Acupuncture Promotes Healthy Digestion and Fat Metabolism

Chinese Medicine regulates the digestive system and strengthens metabolism. Studies show that acupuncture is an insulin sensitizer and can increase insulin sensitivity by reducing body weight and inflammation while also improving lipid metabolism and adipokines.

Acupuncture Suppresses Appetite and Induces Weight Loss

Leptin and ghrelin are the “hunger hormones” involved in appetite regulation. They play a role in how hungry or satiated you feel. Research shows that acupuncture not only reduces serum levels of leptin and ghrelin, it also induces weight loss and decreases BMI.

Ear Acupuncture Suppresses Appetite and Strengthens the Digestive System

Certain ear acupuncture points are clinically effective for suppressing appetite, lowering BMI, and abdominal circumference. These points on the ear can be needled or auricular acupressure can be applied using vaccaria seeds. Patients can also stimulate these ear acupuncture points on their own by applying pressure to the seeds, which is an effective method of appetite suppression leading to weight loss. Acupuncture stimulates the auricular branch of the vagus nerve and raises serotonin levels, both of which have been shown to increase tone in the smooth muscle of the stomach, thus suppressing appetite.  

Acupuncture Increases Beta-Endorphins and Improves Mood

Acupuncture increases the levels of beta-endorphins in the blood. Those are the “feel good” brain chemicals that induce a sense of euphoria and may therefore reduce emotional eating. Research suggests that increased beta-endorphin levels play a role in weight loss by enhancing lipolytic activity and mobilizing energy stores.

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