Maintaining an ideal body weight for your height can be a challenge, particularly as you get older. As muscle mass declines along with age, metabolism slows down causing those extra pounds to creep up on you particularly if you continue to eat the same number of calories. While a healthy diet and exercise program is a requirement for maintaining a healthy weight, some people are looking for alternatives such as acupuncture to give them an additional edge when it comes to losing weight. Does acupuncture for weight loss work?
Acupuncture and weight loss: What do the studies show?
According to a review that was conducted by The International Journal of Obesity which analyzed more than thirty studies on acupuncture and weight loss, people who received acupuncture for weight loss showed significant reductions in body weight when compared to both placebo and sham treatments. Sham treatments are where the acupuncture procedure is performed without using the actual needles. This treatment serves as an additional placebo.
Acupuncture and weight loss: How does it work?
Although these studies show a positive association between acupuncture and weight loss, the exact mechanism by which it promotes weight loss isn’t clear. One theory is that by reducing stress, it decreases the incidence of emotional overeating. Acupuncture also has effects on levels of certain neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine which play a role in mood and appetite. It’s also thought that production of another neurotransmitter known as beta endorphin promotes a feeling of well being which could reduce overeating and may also directly stimulate fat mobilization.
The researchers in this study assessing acupuncture and weight loss emphasize that larger studies need to be carried out before any definitive recommendations for using acupuncture for weight loss can be made, as there was some question about the methodology used in these trials. It may be too early to endorse acupuncture as a potential weight loss aid.
Acupuncture and weight loss: The bottom line?
There really is no magic panacea for losing weight that works for everyone. Although acupuncture for weight loss shows some potential promise, it’s unlikely that it will override the importance of a long-term healthy eating and exercise program. If future studies support the benefits of acupuncture for weight loss, this procedure might be particularly effective for people who are emotional overeaters since acupuncture appears to alter neurotransmitter levels that affect mood and appetite. Until further, large, controlled studies are carried out to confirm these findings, weight control is best achieved the old-fashioned way – by eating the right foods and increasing your activity level.