One third of Americans now use complementary medicine, sometimes in conjunction with traditional medicine, to treat ailments according to the Annals of Internal Medicine.
So what is acupuncture? An ancient Chinese method of medicine (over 2,500 years old), acupuncture deals with specific 'points' on the body that correspond to your emotions, stress levels, energy (called 'qi'), external parts and internal systems. Inserting fine needles into these specific points stimulates the body to re-adjust its qi, releasing blocked energy and finding inner balance. Acupuncture causes the body to release endorphins and these natural chemicals influence a particular area of the body; for weight loss, focus is on the digestive system and metabolism.
You'll begin an acupuncture weight loss program by discussing your eating habits with your acupuncturist, who will work out a plan that deals with the individual nature of your problem. For example, if your characteristics include smoking or talking a lot, the acupuncturist will focus on your mouth. If you snack and nibble, the focus is on your stomach. The lung is for those with a sweet tooth, the thyroid for slow metabolism.
After the acupuncturist determines your qi level and checks your stomach for imbalances, he or she will devise a treatment plan. Sessions usually last 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the case, and after the needles are removed small adhesive buttons will be placed on the area so that the patient may apply pressure between treatments when hit by a food craving or the urge to snack. Sessions are more frequent in the beginning, up to three times a week, then taper off as you start to lose weight.
Your acupuncturist may also prescribe a series of herbs for you to ingest to help your metabolism and rebalance your qi. The length and effectiveness of an acupuncture weight loss plan depends on the individual and his or her dedication to maintaining treatment along with healthy eating and exercise.
An effective acupuncture weight loss plan pairs treatment with nutritious eating and regular exercise; acupuncture alone will not melt away the pounds. What acupuncture does do, however, is help the subject reduce stress and anxiety, making it easier to take command over binge and out-of-control eating. Acupuncture should only be performed by a trained and licensed acupuncturist; the National Certificate Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) is the certifying organization in the U.S.