In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), a poorly functioning digestive system is the root cause of problems such as constipation, bloating, acid reflux, bad breath and unwanted weight gain.
Acupuncture gives an interesting perspective as to how organs work: not only do they have physiological functions, they also have emotional characteristics as well. When the spleen and stomach (the main organs associated with digestion) are not working in harmony which is manifested through feelings such as anxiety and overthinking, this affects your ability to metabolise food properly. As a result, the body is not able to absorb the nutrients that it requires and it can’t fight substances it doesn’t need or that may even be harmful to your overall health. This can cause weight gain and unwanted digestive system issues.
And if left unaddressed, it can turn into a vicious cycle; digestive imbalances trigger feelings that cause you to eat more, thus worsening the problem.
In TCM, Qi, or the body’s life force, courses through energy pathways throughout the body, which are also known as meridians. There are said to be 14 major meridians, which loosely translates to the Western definition of organs.
When an individual is unwell, the Qi is said to be out of balance, and specific points on the body considered to be connected to the meridians must be stimulated to correct the imbalance. Acupuncture needles are then applied to these points to correct any Qi excesses or deficiencies.
Auricular (ear) acupuncture is the method often used to treat obesity. Common auricular points used in the treatment of obesity include Hunger and Stomach points (for satiety and fullness) and Shenmen (for sedation and pain relief). Experts have theorised that stimulation of the auricular nerves inhibits hunger pangs and curbs appetite.
Apart from regular auricular acupuncture treatments, studies have noted that patients wearing auricular acupuncture devices such as staples or beads experienced reduced food cravings.
Moreover, acupuncture also facilitates the quick release of neurotransmitters in the body, which may improve moods and reduce stress and depression, and in turn help control food intake.
Other trigger points where acupuncture needles are applied include the mouth, to reduce impulsive eating; the lungs, to spread the Qi downward to the kidneys; the endocrine glands, to prevent water retention; the adrenal glands and ovaries, to address weight gain related with menopause or Premenstrual Syndrome; the spleen, to relieve blood sugar and hormonal imbalances; the kidneys, to relieve anxiety, and the thyroid, to accelerate metabolism.
Traditional Chinese Medicine, on the other hand, helps burn fat more effectively, slows down carbohydrate absorption, lowers blood pressure & cholesterol, and cleanses a fatty liver.
Side by side, Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine will go a long way to help achieve weight loss goals. For best results, complement each session with a regular exercise, a proper diet, and these wellness tips:
Spice up your drink. Adding spices such as cinnamon, ginger, peppermint, fennel, or licorice to your favourite cup of coffee or tea enhances digestion.
Savour your meal. Don’t rush through each dish. Pause in between bites, chew slowly, and pay close attention to the texture and flavor of what’s going into your mouth. Remember that eating should be a focused, almost meditative experience. Sit down for each meal and stay away from distractions such as your laptop, TV, or smartphone. Focus on the food and the people you’re with.
Add more colour to your diet. Did you know that the colour yellow is associated with the stomach and spleen? So aside from green leafy vegetables, add butternut squash, corn, yellow peppers, golden beets, and sweet potatoes to your menu.
Plan you day – and thoughts. Obsessive and unproductive thoughts can do damage to your spleen and stomach. Transform your worries into a concrete action plan, even if it’s as simple as making a to-do list for the day. This will put all that anxious energy into good use and help you move forward.
In need of weight loss help? Sustain Health’s highly qualified natural health practitioners can create a tailored treatment plan specific to your needs.
Dr. Scott Ling is the Chief Chinese Medicine Practitioner and Acupuncturist and the founder of Sustain Health. He holds a PHD Doctorate Degree in Chinese medicine from Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine. Dr Ling's extensive qualifications also include a Master of Reproductive Medicine (western medicine). Due to his unique medical background, Dr Ling’s approach stresses on the integration of Chinese and Western medicine to ensure patients get the greatest benefits from the best of both medical systems.
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