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Acupuncture is both a standalone therapy and a component of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), which also includes massage, dietary advice and exercise and Chinese herbal medicines, says Peter Aftanas, an acupuncture and TCM practitioner of over 30 years.
The concept of acupuncture is based on an underlying belief in an energy force called Qi (pronounced ‘chee’). Practitioners believe Qi circulates in the body through invisible channels called meridians, and that blockage of the flow of Qi through meridians creates disease.
Aftanas explains that acupuncture seeks to unblock the flow by inserting fine needles into specific points of the skin to stimulate acupuncture points, restoring balance and encouraging healing. The great news is, whether you believe the philosophy behind acupuncture or not, numerous scientific trials from around the globe have demonstrated that acupuncture is both safe and effective in treating many health issues, and is widely accepted by medical practitioners as an effective adjunct to conventional treatments.
How does it work for weight loss?
Acupuncture has been shown to effect improvement in many areas commonly regarded as integral to weight loss – from alleviating muscle conditions that prohibit calorie-burning exercise, to improving digestion. Digestive health is a case in point, says Aftanas.
“If you are not digesting properly, then you are not extracting the nutrients you need from your food, so you start looking for more food to supplement your deficiency,” he says. “If you can strengthen your digestion then you will feel less hungry and need to eat less often, and Chinese Herbal Medicine can do this.”
Mood and its underlying biochemical factors may also be manipulated to favour weight loss, Aftanas says, drawing a link between the endorphins released by inserting needles in acupuncture points, and reducing emotional eating. He also connects the practice with curbing time-of-month cravings, saying that energy is housed in the blood and that bleeding may cause the body to scream for replacement energy.
So it’s not a magic bullet, but acupuncture may help to cultivate conditions favouring weight loss – think of it like your twice-yearly care service. It’s not going to get you a trophy at Bathurst, but it’ll give you a hell of a better chance than if your engine oil was low.
A typical treatment will take about 40 to 60 minutes depending upon the complexity of health concerns. “A full case history should be taken to assess the person’s health, and then an individual treatment plan can be created, which is generally a combination of therapies, such as acupuncture, herbs, diet, and exercise recommendations.”