One of the most frustrating patients I’ve ever had was a woman I’ll call Emily, who came to me for weight loss. She was in her late fifties, about 50 pounds overweight, and told me that she had tried every diet imaginable. She said that she had gained and lost hundreds of pounds, and was trying acupuncture as a last resort.
I spent a great deal of time talking with Emily about weight loss from the perspective of Chinese medicine. I described what would be involved for her success, including the role of digestion, stress management, adequate sleep, and physical activity—beyond just dieting.
I treated Emily at her first appointment with acupuncture and gave her some simple dietary guidelines according to Chinese food therapy. I set up an appointment for her to come back a week later. The following week, Emily came into my office and told me that she didn’t think the acupuncture was working, as she hadn’t lost any weight. It was at that point that I realized that Emily was only interested in me performing acupuncture, while her fat melted away. Wow!
Needless to say, Emily did not come back, and I chalk this one up as most frustrating for a couple of reasons. First, Emily wasn’t committed to doing anything other than showing up for her appointments and watching her weight drop. Secondly, she expected it to happen after only one treatment!
That’s where Dr. Oz comes in. For anyone living on another planet, Dr. Mehmet Oz is a cardiologist and wellness guru that first appeared on Oprah several years ago. He has since written a number of books, including YOU: The Owner’s Manual: An Insider’s Guide to the Body that Will Make You Healthier and Younger. I’ve read a bunch of them—they are fabulous, funny, and get to the point of what you need to know to be a healthy, beautiful person who knows how to age well.
Dr. Oz has his own TV show now, and earlier this week, he did a segment on acupuncture for weight loss—and he got it right. Acupuncture is a great choice to help you lose weight because it can help curb your appetite, decrease your cravings (especially for sugar), speed up your metabolism, and decrease stress—a common saboteur in your effort to lose weight. Dr. Oz also emphasizes the importance of good digestion, which is considered crucial to good health in Chinese medicine. According to the Chinese, you can eat the healthiest food in the world, but if you don’t digest it well, you might as well be hitting the drive-up window at McDonald’s every day.
According to Dr. Oz, there are a number of hormones that impact how you gain or lose weight. In You: On A Diet: The Owner’s Manual for Waist Management, he describes the role of ghrelin, which is a hormone that impacts hunger as well as the secretion of leptin, which regulates your metabolism and how you store fat. Dr. Oz describes how acupuncture can influence and regulate these obesity hormones to support weight loss.
Finally, in his guidelines, Dr. Oz directs viewers to “complete a full course of treatment”, which for weight loss is usually ten treatments over the course of several weeks. Acupuncture is a therapy, not a magic bullet. Hear that, Emily?
For the full segment, go here.