Acupuncture for Weight Loss

accupuncture for weight loss

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There are countless ways to lose weight. Sometimes traditional methods work and sometimes non-traditional methods can boost your weight loss program, as well. That's why many people turn to acupuncture for weight loss. But there are things you need to know about the traditional Chinese procedure before you try it. Make sure you get all the facts before you use acupuncture to lose weight.

Acupuncture for Weight Loss

Recent studies have evaluated the relationship between acupuncture and weight loss. Their findings support the use of the traditional practice, especially if you have already tried other methods to slim down.

In one research review, scientists compared the use of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine to several prescription obesity drugs that are used widely in the United States. They found that the alternative methods were just as effective at treating obesity but had fewer side effects than the medications.

Other studies have also found that acupuncture can promote weight loss, although many of the studies are small and testing methods used by researchers are not always rigorous. For those reasons, it may be difficult to say with certainty that weight loss will occur if you try acupuncture, but the practice has gained favor in some alternative medicine circles.

How to Combine Acupuncture and Weight Loss

If you use acupuncture while you are trying to lose weight you're most likely to get the best results if you pair the treatment with healthy lifestyle changes—such as a calorie-controlled, nutritious diet and a program of regular physical activity.

"Any acupuncture treatment would be more effective when the patient changes his/her eating habits and lifestyle habits, like exercise, sleep patterns and exposure to stress," says Gabrielle Zlotnik, a licensed Classical Acupuncturist who has been practicing for ten years. Her advice underscores the importance of a comprehensive approach to weight loss.

"Acupuncture can help initiate the change, but cannot replace the personal involvement of the patient in the process of weight loss or any other healing," says Zlotnik.

So what is the best way to begin your program? The first step may be to meet with your healthcare provider to make sure you are healthy enough to start a diet and exercise regime. Your healthcare provider may also provide helpful medical information to share with your acupuncturist. In some circumstances, your provider may be willing recommend an acupuncture practitioner and work together with him or her to develop a comprehensive plan for overall wellness.

Zlotnik explains that "acupuncturists look at every problem presented by the patient as an imbalance, not a sickness. The person can get back to balance, from dis-ease to total ease, to bliss."

If your healthcare provider does not recommend an acupuncturist, you can find a licensed acupuncture practitioner in your area. Before you invest, be sure to evaluate the cost of your treatment as many insurance companies do not cover the procedure.

Begin an Acupuncture Weight Loss Program

At your first acupuncture appointment, plan to arrive early to fill out intake forms. These generally include a general health history, wellness goals, and other information. Your acupuncturist will review your forms and provide a short consultation before you begin. This may involve a recommendation for traditional Chinese herbs or diet suggestions to complement your weight loss program.

During the procedure, the practitioner will insert small thin needles at specific points throughout your body. Some patients describe a tingling sensation when the needles are in and some report a feeling of heaviness. You will rest for a while (a few minutes to an hour) with the needles inserted, then the practitioner will remove them and the session is complete.

Most people do not feel discomfort or pain during the procedure.

You may want to avoid scheduling vigorous activities after your acupuncture until you know how you react to them. Some patients report feeling dizzy or lightheaded. If this is the case, your acupuncturist may ask you to take it easy after your session. If you experience unusual symptoms after the treatment, you should consult your practitioner and/or your healthcare provider.

Together with your acupuncturist, you will develop a plan for ongoing treatments. You may use acupuncture for weight loss on a monthly basis or more frequently based on your budget, your availability and the recommendations of the provider.

1 Source
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Zhang K, Zhou S, Wang C, Xu H, Zhang L. Acupuncture on obesity: clinical evidence and possible neuroendocrine mechanismsEvid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2018;2018. doi:10.1155/2018/6409389.

Additional Reading

By Malia Frey, M.A., ACE-CHC, CPT
 Malia Frey is a weight loss expert, certified health coach, weight management specialist, personal trainer​, and fitness nutrition specialist.