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Acupuncture and Weight Loss

Acupuncture assists weight loss by increasing the amount of endorphins that decrease appetites. Understood with this principle in mind, acupuncture is a natural way of dieting and adds nothing unnatural into the blood stream. The only unnatural thing about this type of weight loss is the insertion of the sterile warm needles into certain acupuncture points throughout the body.

Endorphins are normal brain substances that are mostly used in pain reduction. Although hunger is not classified as pain, it is nonetheless uncomfortable and is controlled by decreasing or eliminating nerve messages suggesting hunger – or pain. It does not change the need for food nor does it change the situation that causes pain; it only does blocks the nerve message.

Acupuncture is new to the West but has been employed in the East for centuries. First mention of it was in Huang Di Nei Jing’s classic text on medicine, “The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine”, an ancient text printed over 2000 years ago. In the sixth century AD acupuncture was introduced into Japan. Today is a viable form of medicine and is practiced regularly. Methodology has improved over time and in the seventeenth century, Japan revised the system by creating an insertion tube for the needle. This is the preferred method by acupuncturists today.

Acupuncture is not widely used in North America, only about around six percent of the population having at least tried it for pain eradication, but it is gradually being accepted. Its use is sanctioned by the FDA and in California – UCLA – its procedure is now being taught as part of the medical student’s curriculum. It is less invasive than surgery. In other words if a slight needle insertion can stop pain, of any variety such as from wounds, pinched nerves, disease, hunger, then why not try it over major surgery?

Exactly how acupuncture works to assist in weight loss is not precisely known but evidence points to the effects of brain chemicals with an anesthetizing quality that makes hunger less of a problem. Taber‘s medical dictionary defines endorphins as: “Any of a group of more than 15 substances present in the brain, certain endocrine glands, and the gastrointestinal tract. They have morphine-like analgesic properties, behavioral effects, and neurotransmitter and neuromodulator functions. Included in this group of chemicals are endorphins, enkephalins, and dimorphic“.

And let’s not forget the positive effect of suggestion – the placebo effect – of acupuncture in treating obesity. This is mind over matter (no pun intended). Comfort at knowing something is being done to control one’s appetite may actually discourage overeating. However, whether this ever becomes a routine aid in preventing overeating is questionable. Its price may be prohibitive unless insurance companies can be convinced it is far cheaper than paying for radical surgery.