With Laura Shin, R.Ac

One of the most frequent questions acupuncturists are asked is: Can acupuncture help me lose weight? As with most modalities and treatments for weight loss, that’s not the simple yes-or-no question it seems. When people ask that question, they often really want to know if a few well-placed needles can quickly melt away pounds. Unfortunately, although acupuncture can be a useful tool in weight loss, it’s not a magic bullet.

Acupuncture shines as a therapy because it recognizes that we are not all the same. Many factors contribute to weight gain, so treatments should not be one size fits all. Instead, acupuncturists identify individual imbalances (both in lifestyle and within the body) and help to correct them through acupuncture and diet and lifestyle therapy.

One way, balance can be achieved is by reducing feelings of stress—a leading contributor to weight gain—and acupuncture is a star when it comes to stress relief. Typically acupuncture patients also find they have an increase in energy after treatment, which is an essential first step when trying to adapt to a healthier lifestyle. After all, more energy allows for more physical activity. Imagine having energy at the end of a work day to work out and make healthy meals.

If poor digestion and bloating prevent someone from making good food choices, acupuncture can treat those symptoms, as well. Or if stress and imbalance show up as sleepless nights and an anxious mind—causing skipped breakfasts and too many cups of coffee—acupuncture can help by calming the mind and alleviating insomnia.

Finally, acupuncture can help reduce sugar cravings and the blood sugar spikes that go with them. So while acupuncture is not necessarily magic, it is a great adjunct and might just make a world of difference.