There was an article in my local paper last week about the relationship between stress and weight gain. The gist of the article was that during the current economic crisis many people who are stressed about their financial situation turn to food as a way to cope.
Medical experts know that stress and other strong negative emotions have an impact on your body’s hormonal balance, specifically the balance of adrenaline, cortisol, and insulin. In addition, it’s known that hormonal changes caused by stress can be responsible for weight gain around your middle, and can increase your risk for certain cardiovascular health problems. Your doctor may describe this phenomenon as the difference between being pear shaped (good) versus apple shaped (not so good).
In Chinese medicine, this same phenomenon would be described as a Liver/Spleen disharmony, or a case of your emotions upsetting your digestion. Your Chinese Liver is the organ system that regulates the smooth movement of everything in your body, including your emotions, circulation, menstrual cycles, and digestion. The function of the Spleen system is to efficiently turn food into nutrients, energy, and blood—in other words, all aspects of digestion. You know your Spleen isn’t up to par when you have signs or symptoms related to your digestion, including food cravings or a loss of appetite, constipation or loose stools, stomachaches, nausea, and weight gain. You might think that if you’re gaining weight your digestion is just fine, thank you very much, but in reality, weight gain is a signal that your digestion is impaired in some way.
How can acupuncture or Chinese medicine help? There are a couple of answers. First, acupuncture is an excellent way to soothe your emotions. It can effectively help people who are feeling stressed, anxious or depressed. It seems odd that the insertion of a couple of needles can affect your emotions or mood, but research has in fact documented that acupuncture alters brain chemistry in a good way.
Secondly, using a combination of acupuncture, herbs, and food therapy, a practitioner of Chinese medicine can help you get your weight under control. Not only can it help you with food cravings, but Chinese medicine is an incredibly effective treatment for digestive problems.
If stress is impacting your health or causing weight gain, think about acupuncture. It’s safe, effective, and organic.