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Weight Loss with Traditional Chinese Medicine

By Zaynah Shabo, L.Ac., CNC

health-&-beautyAs the days shorten and holiday festivities loom, so does the prospect of seasonal weight gain. Is it possible to prevent the inevitable cycle of gain and loss, or of denial and guilty indulgence that recur time and again?

Fortunately, a balanced, systematic approach that includes acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can offer a solution.

Unlike extreme diets which can indeed result in quick weight loss, but tend to create a rebound of rapid weight gain that often exceeds the loss, acupuncture works to tune the body to run more efficiently. This is not unlike how a tune-up for your car, which ensures proper operation, can prevent problems before they occur.

There are three ways in which acupuncture can help you lose weight – and keep it off for good.

Metabolism is something frequently discussed in weight loss literature. Some people can eat endlessly and gain no weight, while others have a hard time losing weight even on the strictest diet. This is often credited to one’s metabolism. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the concept of metabolism is referred to as your “inner fire,” or Yang, a force which also helps keep your immune system strong and gives a sense of consistent energy and zest for life. People with deficient Yang are prone to depression, fatigue, low libido, constant colds, bloating, and a host of other symptoms. Boosting Yang, or stimulating the metabolism, involves keeping the digestive system “warm” and producing the enzymes that break down food into useful energy. A healthy digestive tract does not suffer from gas, bloating, heartburn or frequent belching. These symptoms, along with constantly feeling tired after a meal, are markers that your body is not processing foods efficiently and an indicator of Yang deficiency. Acupuncture and herbs can address this, toning Yang and restoring healthy metabolic function.

Secondly, acupuncture helps with weight loss by offering a paradigm shift as to what is truly healthful eating. According to TCM there are constitutional types and patterns of strengths and weaknesses from birth which are enhanced or exacerbated by life choices. Understanding constitutional type is critical to a successful diet plan. Often, patients struggling to lose weight are actually trying very hard to stick to a plan that ignores their constitutional type by including too many “cold” raw foods which sabotages their metabolic “fire.” Meal plans should be individualized with nutrient rich, rewarding, easy to digest foods which can prevent cravings before they occur. Cravings are a sign of internal imbalance rather than a lack of willpower, and are a good indicator of what is wrong internally.

Last but not least, there are well documented benefits from acupuncture of stress reduction, improved sleep and decreased pain, all contributing to improved hormonal balance and reduction of the “stress hormone,” cortisol, which is linked to weight gain. Poor sleep also decreases the body’s supplies of ghrelin and leptin, two hormones associated with appetite suppression. As an added benefit of feeling better, the habit of “comfort eating” to soothe the emotions is reduced, and cravings for unhealthy food are gradually replaced by healthier choices as the body appreciates their positive effects.

Zaynah Shabo is a licensed acupuncturist and certified nutritionist with a focus on weight loss, women’s health and pain management at AcQpoint Wellness Center in La Quinta. (760) 775.7900.

2 Responses to “Weight Loss with Traditional Chinese Medicine”

  1. bill machen says:

    I have heard about people who regularly use Chinese medicine—–go to the ChinaTown -Herbalist
    who looks at patient-askswhat are the problems to be treated–and then makes a specialized
    compound of herbs that ‘the patient’—–normally prepares as a tea——but could be in pill form.
    I currently am-72 year old male, who was diagnosed with Type-2——-or Adult -onset diabetes——–
    and probably over the course of time—as I got older–my body has decreased its’ production of
    vital hormones that would normally——-keep my body ‘toned and in balance’. and perhaps with the
    Western medicine I have been taking———I have had weight gain. I understand that the main
    problem with this form of Diabetes—–is that the ‘normal receptor sites of the cells—-close down,
    not allowing entry of nutrients that are converted to Energy–therefore,the weight gain. so maybe
    I do need more help with my Yang—–fire in the belly,improved digestion,increased energy production
    at the cellular level. yes, I probably do need a tea-or some pills that will—–spark—-or cause this
    to happen. if I were to have more energy,plus a weight loss of 20-30/pounds/month—–down to
    my ideal weight——-may body ‘would run more efficiently. I do not know what Element—–I am
    Water,fire,Air,Earth,or Metal———–but I do know I was born under the sign of the Dog. my dob
    is 12 Oct 1946. I have worked in the USA healthcare system for 46 years—-plus I have done 2
    different Federally Funded Medical/Vet research studies. I am just thinking that ‘maybe’ there is
    a better way—perhaps a ‘think out of the box approach’ to the treatment of Type -2 diabetes/weight
    loss——–since both of these are closely——tied to one-another. if you have some answers,please
    send me an e-mail,thank you,wdm

    • Lauren Del Sarto says:

      Good Day, Bill, and thank you for reading Desert Health! We will reach out to the doctor and see if she has any ideas for you.

      With appreciation ~
      Lauren

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