Analyzing the Effect of Acupuncture for Weight Loss

Ancient Chinese Practice May Help in Shedding Pounds

Weight loss is a powerful and transformative journey which deeply impacts our life. Apart from slimmer figures, shedding excess pounds can alleviate health issues, boost self-confidence, and improve our well-being. On the other hand, excessive weight can cause numerous health problems, from depression and diabetes to heart attack, stroke, and increased risk of certain cancers.

Many people are trying to find effective ways to lose weight, and one approach gaining much attention is acupuncture – an ancient Chinese practice of strategic needle placement to stimulate specific points on the body and promote balance and harmony. Acupuncture can help reduce appetite, improve digestion, reduce stress, and boost metabolism; however, additional studies are needed for official confirmation of its benefits for weight loss.

In this article, we will explore the connection between acupuncture and weight loss in depth, revealing the latest research findings, acupoints, side effects, valuable insights, and much more. By the time you read this article, you will have a deeper understanding of how acupuncture can help you on your path to a healthier and happier life.

Understanding Overweight and Obesity

Overweight and obesity are caused by accumulation of body fat, which increases body mass index (BMI) above normal levels. BMI index is established by measuring the person’s weight in relation to their height. The body’s energy balance is disrupted by an imbalance between calorie intake and expenditure.


Excess weight can be caused by various factors such as

  • genetics
  • hormonal imbalances
  • sedentary lifestyle
  • lack of physical activity
  • certain medical conditions
  • high calory diets
  • processed foods
  • socioeconomic factors.

Health issues

Obesity is associated with various health issues, including cardiovascular diseases, certain types of cancer, type 2 diabetes, joint pain, respiratory problems, sleep apnea, depression, low self-esteem and many more.


Traditional treatment requires a comprehensive method that involves lifestyle changes such as a balanced diet and regular physical activity. Permanent improvements can be achieved through behavioral therapy, counseling, and support groups. Sometimes, medications are prescribed, or, in more severe cases of obesity, surgery may be considered to reduce the size of the stomach.

How Does Being Overweight Influence the Quality of Life

Excess pounds can affect all aspects of our lives, from physical to mental and emotional health. It can lead to depression, anxiety, body image dissatisfaction, negative self-perception, and emotional eating (food as a coping mechanism). The stigma related to obesity can develop low self-esteem and social isolation. Furthermore, hormonal and chemical imbalances may potentially influence mood and brain function.

Can Acupuncture Help with Weight Loss?

Acupuncture, an ancient Chinese healing practice of inserting thin needles into specific body points, has gained popularity as a potential aid in managing weight. It is believed that it can help suppress appetite, boost metabolism, and regulate endocrine system. However, more evidence is needed to confirm that acupuncture can directly help in shedding pounds. Although it looks promising, it is still not a standalone solution. For the best results, acupuncture should be used as complementary approach. Combining acupuncture with traditional methods such as a healthy diet, regular physical activity, and lifestyle modifications can maximize its potential benefits.

Acupuncture Points for Weight Loss

Acupuncture utilizes specific acupoints to promote energy balance and support weight loss efforts. The specific selection of acupoints will vary depending on individual needs. A qualified practitioner will perform an in-depth assessment and create a personalized plan targeting your unique goals. The most common targeted acupoints are:

  • Zusanli (ST36) – located on the lower leg, about 3 inches below the kneecap, along the stomach meridian. It is believed that this point influences upper abdomen and parasympathetic nervous systems, thus improving digestion, regulating appetite and increasing energy levels.
  • Tianshu (ST25) – found on the abdomen, about three finger widths on both sides of the belly button. Stimulating this acupoint can regulate digestion, bowel movement, alleviate bloating, and improve overall gut health.
  • Zhongwan (CV12) – located about 4 inches above the navel, along the conception vessel in the meridian system. It is believed to influence the upper abdomen, the stomach and intestines.
  • Sanyinjiao (SP6) – this point is found 3 inches above the inner ankle, along the spleen meridian. Stimulating SP6 can regulate the lower abdomen and parasympathetic nervous system.
  • Renzhong (GV26) – can be found between the nose and the upper lip, on the governing meridian. It is thought that this acupoint influences weight loss by controlling appetite.
  • Xuehai (SP10) – situated about 2 inches above the kneecap, along spleen meridian. Targeting Spleen 10 acupoint can regulate blood sugar levels.

Inside a Typical Acupuncture Session

At your first appointment, you will have an initial consultation about your medical history, health concerns, and weight loss goals. This info will be used to create a treatment plan tailored to your specific needs.

Acupuncture sessions typically take place in a tranquil, relaxing ambiance, with soothing music and soft lights. The acupuncturist will insert thin, sterile needles into specific acupoints. Most people feel minimal or no pain at all during needle insertion. Typical sensations include tingling, or a gentle pinch. Once the needles are inserted, you may experience warmth or gentle energy flow. The needles are typically left in place for 30 – 60 minutes, allowing you to fully relax.

Does it hurt?

Acupuncture needles are designed to minimize pain and discomfort during insertion. They are incredibly thin, much thinner than regular injection needles, thus causing minimal to no pain at all. Many people consider the treatment comfortable and relaxing.

How Many Sessions Do I Need to See the Results?

The results vary based on the specific circumstances of each individual. Some people notice immediate improvements while others may need multiple sessions before seeing noticeable changes. On average, it takes several weeks to several months to achieve significant results. Each person reacts differently to acupuncture. Overall health and the severity of the condition can influence the frequency and duration of the treatments. It is also important to have realistic expectations and stay positive and committed throughout the process.

Ear Stimulation

Auricular or ear acupuncture has become popular as an alternative strategy for promoting weight loss. It involves the stimulation of acupoints located on the outer ear. Using tiny needles or ear magnets to these points rebalances Qi energy flow promotes well-being. This method is often used not only for weight loss, but also for stress reduction, addiction recovery, pain management and more. While additional research is needed to confirm the efficacy, many individuals have reported positive outcomes.

Benefits of Acupuncture for Weight Loss

Appetite suppression

Acupuncture may help regulate appetite and reduce food cravings by stimulating acupoints influencing two important hormones: leptin and ghrelin. These two hormones regulate appetite, fat storage, and metabolism.  By undergoing acupuncture treatment, your desire for excessive food intake can be diminished.

Balancing energy and hormones

Acupuncture is based on the concept of Qi, the energy flowing through pathways or meridians in our body. By stimulating acupoints along the meridians, acupuncture restores the energy flow and hormonal balance, thus supporting weight management.

Reducing stress and emotional eating

Weight gain and overeating are often influenced by stress and emotional state. It is believed that acupuncture reduces stress levels by regulating the release of stress hormones like cortisol and helps promote relaxation. By targeting emotional factors, individuals can regain control of emotional eating patterns and make better and healthier choices.

Boosting metabolism and digestion

Two essential factors in weight management are metabolism and digestion. Targeting specific acupoints can speed up metabolism, promote better digestion, and optimize the absorption of nutrients. Efficient food processing and increased levels of energy lead to effective weight loss.

Regulating the endocrine system

Inserting thin needles into specific points in the body regulates endocrine system and thyroid, which may affect a person’s weight.

Decreasing water retention

Kidney and endocrine system stimulation can stop water retention in the body and prevent storing excess water.

Reducing inflammation

Our metabolism can be slowed down by inflammation or tension in the gut, tissues, or muscles. Acupuncture can relieve tension and lower stress levels thus helping your body to lose weight.

Side Effects

Although it is generally considered safe, like any medical procedure, there are minor side effects. Common side effects of acupuncture may include temporary soreness, mild bruising, and mild dizziness. In extremely rare cases, infection, hepatitis B, and organ or tissue injury can be experienced due to improper practice during the session.

It is crucial to seek a licensed practitioner and consult about any concerning symptoms during the session so that your treatment plan can be adjusted accordingly. A qualified acupuncturist will be able to reduce the risk of side effects by practicing safe procedures and taking into consideration your medical history and current issues.

Precautionary Measures

To ensure a safe and effective acupuncture therapy, take the following precautionary measures:

  • Qualified practitioner – Choose a licensed and reputable acupuncturist with proper training and certification, with good reviews. You can find a certified practitioner at National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.
  • Medical history – This information will be significantly helpful for creating a personalized plan while minimizing risks.
  • Needle hygiene – If licensed, your practitioner will follow strict needle hygiene, using sterile, single-use needles and minimizing infection risks.
  • Open communication – Any unusual sensations during the session should be conveyed to your practitioner who will then adjust the treatment plan to reduce discomfort.
  • Aftercare instructions – To maximize acupuncture benefits, make sure to follow the aftercare instructions, such as increased water intake or avoiding certain food types.

It is crucial to seek a licensed practitioner and consult about any concerning symptoms during the session so that your treatment plan can be adjusted accordingly. A qualified acupuncturist will be able to reduce the risk of side effects by practicing safe procedures and taking into consideration your medical history and current issues.

Is Acupuncture Expensive?

The cost of acupuncture varies, and it depends on several factors, like location, qualification, experience, the duration of the session, and so on. Some insurance plans may cover acupuncture under certain conditions, so talk to your insurance provider to find out more information. There are acupuncture specialists who are willing to come up with a payment plan that suits you, so make sure to discuss payment options in the beginning.

Research on Acupuncture’s Effectiveness on Weight Loss

While acupuncture has been around for several thousands of years and has been explored as a potential weight loss technique, the current evidence is still inconclusive. A 2020 meta-study investigated whether acupuncture could improve BMI index and how effective it is compared to sham acupuncture. However, due to a limited number of studies and poor methodological quality, there are no definitive conclusions. Acupuncture is recommended as a complementary technique to other traditional approaches.

5 Traditional Techniques to Combine with Acupuncture for Successful Weight Loss

Weight loss journey can be an emotional rollercoaster. You can feel excitement, challenge, and disappointment. To set yourself up for success, consider integrating acupuncture with these 5 conventional methods:

  1. Balanced and nutritious diet – Incorporate lots of vegetables, fruit, whole foods, lean proteins, and whole grains into your diet. Avoid processed and sugary food and drinks.
  2. Physical activity – Engage in regular physical activity to boost metabolism and burn more calories.
  3. Hydration – Drink plenty of water during the day to help control appetite cravings.
  4. Relaxation & quality sleep – Managing stress levels can help fight potential emotional eating. Practice deep breathing techniques, or meditation and yoga, and ensure you get enough sleep.
  5. Finding support – Having family or friends’ support on your weight loss journey provides encouragement and accountability.

Acupuncture for Weight Loss: A Promising Complementary Approach

Acupuncture is a non-invasive and generally safe practice that looks promising when it comes to weight loss. The best results are achieved when it is used with other conventional weight loss strategies such as a balanced diet, regular physical activity, and healthy lifestyle habits. Furthermore, it is essential to consult with qualified professionals to ensure the proper administration of treatments, maximized benefits and minimized risks.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Does Sleep Help Shed Pounds?

Sleep is very important because leptin and ghrelin (‘hunger hormones’) are typically higher if you sleep less. Getting enough sleep will balance the hormones and decrease your food craving during the day.

How does acupuncture improve mood?

Acupuncture is believed to stimulate the nervous system to boost the release of endorphins (“happy hormones”). They may improve mood, prevent emotional eating and help decrease the appetite.

What is Emotional (Stress) Eating?

Emotional eating has more to do with emotions than with actual food cravings. Although it feels like it, stress really does not make you hungry. This is your body’s way of dealing with uncomfortable feelings and filling the emotional void. Comfort food provides temporary pleasure, and this behavior might become addictive; however, it is possible to change. Try writing a food intake journal, start eating regularly, drink plenty of water, go for a walk, have healthy snacks with you, work on relaxing and stress resilience techniques.

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