by Stef Cordes & Lisa Baird, with help from Nora Madden
People often ask us if acupuncture can help with weight loss. That’s a loaded question! Weight loss is big business, and acupuncture is often heavily marketed as an effective treatment for weight loss (which, honestly, generally bothers us). So we want to start this conversation by saying that we have noticed that people are healthy at all different sizes, and we recognize that everyone is deserving of respect, dignity and quality healthcare, regardless of their size or the state of their health.*
All that being said, the answer to the question of whether acupuncture can help with weight loss is: possibly.
Acupuncture is effective treatment for all kinds of physical pain. We’ve had patients whose feet hurt too much at the end of the day for them to cook a meal; a cluster of treatments resolved the foot pain and they were able to start making healthy dinners for themselves. We also have had plenty of patients who have told us that they’d like to be exercising more, but they’re in too much pain. Acupuncture can help your body hurt less so that you can move more—which might result in weight loss, or might not.
Acupuncture is a great treatment for improving the length and quality of your sleep, and for reducing stress. Hormonal shifts associated with high stress have been associated with weight gain in some people; some people have told us that they gained some unwanted weight while going through a terribly stressful time.
Getting better sleep and reduced stress can also make you less tired, and it’s a lot easier to take care of your body if you’re not already exhausted. We also find that acupuncture fosters mind-body connection, which is to say: acupuncture can help us listen to our bodies more closely. People often tell us that they feel more in touch with what their bodies want after they’ve had acupuncture on a regular basis. This can result in healthier food choices. But we don’t mean to imply here that “taking care of your body” will magically make you thin. We all come in a variety of different shapes and sizes, and that a healthy weight looks very different from person to person.
As our friend Nora at Long Beach Community Acupuncture says: “We trust that our patients mostly know what is best for them, and we trust, based on our experience, that acupuncture helps reinforce this self-knowledge. We don’t think of our patients as ‘fixer-uppers’ – we think you’re pretty great just how you are!”
*Here’s a great video about weight and health.