Its said that acupuncture can alleviate stress, physical pain, allergies, addictions, and even PMS, but can it really aid weight loss too?
The answer isnt a resounding yes, but it isnt a no either, according to experts.
Obviously, we have a huge obesity epidemic and were trying to find any way to help people lose weight, says Reshmi Srinath, MD, assistant professor of medicine, endocrinology, diabetes, and bone disease at Mount Sinai. Unfortunately, she notes that there arent enough controlled, randomized studies proving a direct link between weight loss and acupuncture.
Dr. Srinath notes that theres data showing a direct correlation between pain alleviation and lowered stress levels, and, as weve pointed out in the past, stress is linked to weight gain .
One of the few studies done on this subject, published in The Scientific World Journal in 2012, found that 196 obese subjects who received acupuncture, the majority did lose weight over the six-week trial period, but only when treatment was coupled with diet restriction.
"Acupuncture isn't magic," says Daniel Hsu , licensed acupuncturist and founder of New York AcuHealth Acupuncture practice. "It doesn't make fat melt off of your body, but studies show it can affect the part of the brain that feels hunger."
In addition to reducing hunger, Hsu says that acupuncture activates your "feel-good" neurotransmitters, which can reduce stress, and possibly help you lose weight as a result of that lowered stress. The exact process differs from patient to patient, but a lot of points on the ears are related to curbing hunger, he says.
How many sessions would you need to do for weight-loss benefits?
And if you're wondering if one acupuncture session is enough to see results, think of it this way: You wouldn't see results from going to the gym one time either. Generally, Hsu recommends that patients seeking weight loss of around 10 to 15 pounds should receive treatment for six to eight weeks, several times a week in the beginning, and taper off visits as time passes. In order to see success, he emphasizes that you have to be in the correct mindset.
In general, if someone feels that acupuncture improves their quality of life, then that might lead them to make better choices regarding diet and exercise , which ultimately, could help them lose weight. However, weve yet to see any substantial data that proves receiving acupuncture treatment alone correlates to weight loss. According to the experts, it's best to seek acupuncture in order to alleviate other ailments that might be standing in your way.