We all know that losing weight is good for your health and well-being, but it can also be very difficult in practice. Everyone hopes to have a healthy body so that they can enjoy life more.
But many people are overweight which affects their quality of life and increases the risks of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart problems as well as circulation problems.
In March 2009, I saw a patient who, after 4 sessions of acupuncture to lose weight, was very happy to tell me that she had lost lots of weight and had dropped 2 dress sizes. Her stomach showed stretch marks which shows that she had lost weight. I was very happy for her result and her big achievement of losing weight. Many Chinese medicine books and clinical experience all approve that acupuncture and meridian massage is beneficial in losing weight. Especially for certain parts of the body such as the stomach, hips, legs, arms and ankle areas. After losing a certain amount of weight, some of my patients fall pregnant straight away (patients with a history of infertility).
1. Why Some People Have Difficulties Losing Weight
So all these problems make you think why is it hard to lose weight, and what are the causes of gaining weight. Quite often I get patients coming to me saying that they do not eat much, nor eat unhealthy foods, that they exercise but they still gain weight. Others say that they eat what they want to eat but are lucky not to put on weight. All these things point to internal functions which control weight loss and weight gain for some cases. If we can find the cause of weight gain we can then improve internal functioning and balanced it to help control weight.
2. Causes of Weight Gain
In traditional Chinese medicine, the causes of weight gain has the following causes.
i) Edema type (Spleen Deficiency)
An ancient Chinese book called “Su wen zhi zhen yao da lun” records edema associated with deficiency of Spleen functioning. This means that those people overweight with edema are associated with water metabolism being sluggish. Chinese medicine considers the Spleen being important to transport fluid thus if the Spleen is deficient the fluid from drinking or eating will be stagnant in the body. Especially in the abdomen, arms and leg muscle to cause the limbs to be very heavy, as these areas are dominated by the Spleen. People who gain weight will also have bloating, tiredness or bowel problems. Their tongue will appear very puffy, very dark and pale, with teeth marks seen on each side of the edge of the tongue. Some of these people have an under-reactive thyroid problem.
ii) Kidney Deficiency type
Chinese medicine also considers the Kidney to be a very important organ in water metabolism. Those who suffer from Kidney problems will acquire more fluid within the body, which can also lead to lower back and knee pain, puffiness around the knee and ankle, lack of energy, sexual function or reduced libido and sleeping problems, waking early or frequent urination at night.
If we are sure that someone is deficient in Kidney and Spleen functions, acupuncture is used, using certain points and channels and certain parts of the body which help to strengthen the Spleen and Kidney. To help improve their function and thus increase the removal of fluid from the body. During treatment patients not only reduce weight but also the associated symptoms subside.
For example a patient came to me with a fertility problem and also suffered from being overweight. After two months of acupuncture to lose weight she also fell pregnant straight away.
I suggest to those who suffer from Spleen and Kidney deficiency to drink an appropriate amount of water per day which is suitable for your body condition (to find out how much water you should drink please see an experienced TCM practitioner). Also I suggest avoid eating cold food and fluids because cold characteristics can damage the Spleen and Kidney function.
iii) Stress type
Stress can also cause weight gain. Chinese medicine considers that long-term pressure from work, family, friends or sudden shock from certain issues can cause Liver problems. As Chinese medicine believes the Liver is one of the vital organs which dominates emotional aspects of the body, if there is too much stress or pressure placed on the Liver, dysfunction of the Liver can occur. People will have headaches, be emotional, with symptoms of anxiety, insomnia, stiff shoulders and neck, irregular bowl movements. Since the Liver is one of the organs which is involved in digestion it will affect the body’s metabolism, thus people who are suffering from Liver deficiency will acquire a lot of undigested food, and thus have more toxins within the digestive tract causing slow but steady weight gain.
People who have this type of obesity will also have associated problems such as depression and irritable bowl syndrome. After acupuncture the symptoms shall disappear and the body will become much lighter. I suggest to those who suffer from this that they should do things which will improve the balance of the Liver. For example, drinking green tea, peppermint tea, listening to soft and gentle music, and especially reducing stress in their lifestyle.
iv) Other types
In addition to the common reasons mentioned above, the following issues can cause weight gain – overeating, lack of exercise, internal organs disorder or chronic illness.
3. Diet & Lifestyle Suggestions
i) Drink a reasonable amount of fluids based on your body’s constitution, activities and the weather (if you’re not sure, please check with your experienced TCM practitioner).
ii) Avoid drinking and eating frozen and very cold drinks or food. Coldness in the stomach can cause sluggishness in the digestion system, especially on cold days.
iii) Take in a certain amount of ginger with your drinks or in your cooking. This can bring more Qi and Yang to your digestive system supporting its function and mobility.
iv) Every week arrange a certain amount of gentle and relaxing exercises, such as walking, swimming, yoga, tai chi and meditation, or some of your own favourite exercises and activities, avoiding strenuous activities.
v) Arrange your work schedule to avoid over-stress and emotional issues. You can eat some of the following foods to help release the tension and clear the toxins in the digestive system: banana, green tea, peppermint tea, lemon, celery, orange, coriander and spinach (for more details on diet please check my articles). Also soaking your feet in 40 degree (Celsius) water before going to bed will relieve pressure and tranquilise your head, improve circulation, and balance your body and Liver.
4. How do we plan your weight loss treatment?
i) In order to provide the most effective treatment with the fastest results, we must first of all find the cause of your weight gain as we mentioned above. We check your body by Traditional Chinese diagnosis methods, such as tongue and pulse, signs and symptoms. The treatment aim is to strengthen your organs so that they will co-operate with the weight loss program.
ii) Chinese medicine uses a combination of acupuncture and meridian massage to stimulate the points and channels that will balance the Liver, Kidney and Spleen functioning and to boost water metabolism, improve circulation and clear the body of toxins and extra fat cells under the skin.
I hope the information in this article gives you a good idea of how to manage your weight.