Acupuncture for Weight Loss

Acupuncture for Weight Loss

Now that the holidays are behind us and our New Years resolutions are ahead of us it is time to buckle down and attack the New Year with style!  One of the most common resolutions is to lose the weight that has been creeping up on us over the past year. The cold weather and hearty holiday meals conspire to add inches to our waistlines. Losing weight is probably one of the most challenging goals that a person can undertake. It is not an easy goal: Despite the constant bombardment of weight loss diets, pills and programs the average weight of Americans has been creeping up over the last decade.

One ancient treatment that has been received with renewed interest is acupuncture for weight loss. Most people think acupuncture is for pain but actually it can be used in a wide assortment of conditions as well as a treatment for addictions like smoking or alcohol. Over-eating is just one more addiction that can be treated with acupuncture.

So what, exactly, does acupuncture do? Treatments for weight loss can vary from patient to patient. Most people overeat as a way to self-medicate themselves for conditions like anxiety, stress, depression or just plain boredom. So it is important not only to suppress the appetite but to alleviate the underlying contributions to overeating. Studies have shown that specific acupuncture treatments can increase energy helping to burn calories. Treatments can also influence hunger cravings arising from the hypothalamus. This two-pronged effect increases calorie burn as well as suppressing the appetite—multiplying weight loss significantly.

As part of any good program, a good acupuncture treatment regime will include advice on nutrition and diet. We live in a very toxic food environment! Even the politicians are getting into the act by trying to ban or regulate large soda pops and sugar. Some simple steps can lead to a vast improvement in overall health. So when selecting an acupuncturist for weight loss make sure the practitioner is experienced in both nutrition and diet analysis to ensure the best chance of success.

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Kristen had come into our office after the birth of her second son. She was 35 years old and about 40 pounds over what she thought was her ideal weight –extra weight she could not seem to shake. She went to the gym twice a week religiously and did an hour of cardiovascular in a spinning bike class. She also skipped meals in an attempt to limit calories but found she then got a ravishing appetite and over-ate several times a week. She also felt fatigued all the time and complained of ‘dragging her butt’.

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The first thing we did for Kristen was perform an Electromeridian Imaging exam (EMI) which allowed us to measure the qi (pronounced ‘chi) levels of important diagnostic acupuncture points. These showed low overall energy, imbalances associated with stress and anxiety, as well as over-activity of the hypothalamus which regulates hunger.

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We also had Kristen give us a detailed history and fill out a nutritional workup. From this we found that she often would skip eating all day and then, after her workout, binge on a large meal. One of the many pieces of advice we gave to Kristen was to eat a large breakfast every single day. Studies have shown that this stimulates GUT hormones and stokes the bodies metabolism. People actually will burn LESS calories if they consistently eat a breakfast. We are also finding out other important benefits to an early meal. People that eat a breakfast every single day have a 30% less chance of developing Type 2 diabetes later in life! In fact, there is a direct correlation between ones risk of diabetes and frequently they eat breakfast!

We also advised Kristen on her workout routines. She is to eat a small to moderate sized meal BEFORE her workout. This provides a steady flow of sugar into the bloodstream during her aerobic exercise and prevents low blood sugar immediately following intense exercise that led to her binging. Studies have shown that people engaging in intense aerobic exercise without eating first tend to consume many more calories than they burned off!

We then started Kristen’s weight loss acupuncture treatment in earnest. The aim of her treatment was to lower the energy feeding her hypothalamus thereby suppressing her appetite. She received treatment to specific points to increase fat burn and to raise overall energy levels. On the nutritional support side, we noted a strong history of heart disease in her family and put together suggestions for grape seed extract and non-flush niacin to help limit arterial plaque and reduce bad cholesterol levels. Kristen was treated twice weekly for four weeks to ramp up her metabolism and balance her completely. In addition, she received a small almost invisible magnet attached to her ear that she was instructed to squeeze every time she felt hungry.

Once Kristen finished the treatment program she elected to return once a month for a ‘Tune-up’ visit to maintain her momentum. After 6 months of care Kristen reached a weight loss of 30 pounds and continues to progress in her program without resulting to starvation diets or dangerous pills. During her treatment we continue to educate her a step at a time in regard to developing healthy habits about food.

Kristen could eat anything she wanted and was not placed on any specific limiting diet. She just learned a few things about calories and the body’s metabolism and that helped her to make good choices. The acupuncture helped increase her energy and suppressed her appetite as well as reducing her overall feeling of stress and anxiety. Using acupuncture to tackle weight loss is a multi-pronged approach. The most successful programs incorporate not only the actual acupuncture treatments but nutritional and dietary counseling as well. The one great thing about this approach is the extra weight comes off just like it was put on: slow and gradual with an average weight loss of 1-2 pounds per week without resort to starvation diets. The other plus is a general improvement in overall health and body function.

Before you start any acupuncture program for weight loss, make sure that the practitioner you select has extensive experience in this particular field as experience, and success, among practitioners can vary wildly. Most states require that acupuncturists be licensed to assure that they have completed the necessary education and training standards to practice. You may see L.Ac. (Licensed Acupuncturist) following his or her name. Acupuncturists may also be doctors who have completed a postgraduate program of study.

Dr. Schwan is available to speak at your group function on a wide variety of alternative medicine topics. Chiropractic, acupuncture, herbal medicine, nutrition, vitamins etc. He is a graduate of the International Academy of Medical Acupuncture. He is president of Schwan Chiropractic & Acupuncture Clinic in Toledo, Ohio. He is an author, lecturer, and one time stand-up comedian. He has practice locations near Westgate in Toledo, Ohio. He may be contacted at For more information on Alternative medicine or weight loss acupuncture please visit our website at


About the Author:

Dr. Douglas Schwan is a Doctor of Chiropractic and a Diplomat of the International Academy of Medical Acupuncture. He is president of Schwan Chiropractic & Acupuncture Clinic in Toledo, Ohio. He is an author, lecturer, and one time stand-up comedian. He has maintained an active practice in Toledo, OH for the last 33 years.