Excess weight is often seen as an accumulation of dampness in the body, and is commonly brought on by a dysfunction of the stomach and spleen. The kidneys are another factor in excessive weight. A “deficiency” in the kidneys can lead to low willpower, making it difficult to say “no” to those tempting foods high-kilojoule foods, and difficult to say “yes” to an exercise regime.
Deficiency in the yang, or “vital” aspect, of the kidneys can lead to a sluggish metabolism, and also a feeling of tiredness and heaviness. Acupuncture regulates the functioning of these organs, and drains dampness from the body, resulting in an overall feeling of wellbeing, as well as the normalisation of weight.
“Your body has an enzyme that helps to burn off fat, but sometimes a blockage in the body prevents that enzyme from working properly,” according to Dr Yoland Lim, a trained TCM physician. “Once that blockage has been removed, your body will get rid of fat more effectively.
Dr Lim focuses on 12 meridian points in the body that hold the key to unlocking our natural fat-burning ability. The points include the ear, or ting kung, which suppresses hunger, the nei ting between the second and middle toe, which purifies the stomach and improves digestion, and the abdomen area where most fat accumulates.
As well as acupuncture, Dr Lim recommends herbs such as lilium brownii, hordeum vulgari, ligusticum and mephelium longan, which help break down fat cells and stop new ones from forming.
If you would like to try acupuncture, read on to find out more about this centuries old technique including how to determine if it is the right treatment for you:
(Related Story: The 10 Best TCM Herbs Everyone Should Have At Home)
WHAT IS IT?
Acupuncture, also known as Zhen Jiu, is an ancient Chinese medicine used to heal and rejuvenate the body. Dating back perhaps as far as 1600BC, acupuncture is the insertion of very fine, sterile, disposable needles into recognised acupuncture points on the body.
“In Chinese medicine we talk about chi, which is the word for energy that circulates around the body in defined channels,” says Dr Lim. “The insertion of needles into the appropriate acupuncture point allows the practitioner to rebalance and harmonise the flow of chi around the body to heal and maintain wellness.”
When chi becomes blocked or disrupted, acupuncture can stimulate and release it, starting the healing process. In some instances, such as with knee pain from arthritis, the needles will be inserted into the site of pain. But with certain ailments, such as recurring headaches, your practitioner may use the needles in other areas, such as your neck and shoulders, often the true source of the pain and discomfort.
HOW WILL THE TREATMENT WORK?
Depending on the type of treatment required, needles will remain in place for varying amounts of time. Appointments will generally run for 30 minutes to an hour. In your initial consultation you’ll be asked to provide a detailed personal health history, listing any specific concerns and to aid with diagnosis. The practitioner will also look at your tongue and feel your pulse.
“The tongue represents different parts of the body where we can discover a heap of information about what’s going on inside,” Dr Lim explains. “And we’ll take your yang pulse, which is on your right side, and your yin pulse, which is on your left-hand side.”
Generally, treatments aren’t painful, but be prepared to experience a range of sensations as the needles are stimulated.
“The sensations may cause a little discomfort for some people, but a practitioner will stop if the patient indicates any pain,” says Dr Lim. “The general feeling after a treatment is deep relaxation and a feeling of wellness.”
Depending on the type of issue you’re having treated, you may need more than one appointment.
(Related Story: Here’s How TCM Fights Weight Gain)
WHICH ISSUES CAN BE TREATED BY ACUPUNCTURE?
The World Health Organisation recognises acupuncture to be beneficial in the treatment of a variety of illnesses and conditions, including arthritis pain, joint and muscle pain, period pain and persistent headaches. But that’s not all.
“As the dominant health model in China for centuries, acupuncture has been used to treat everything from gastrointestinal, musculoskeletal, reproductive, gynaecological, urological, respiratory, cardiac, brain and mental health disorders,” Dr Lim says.
It’s also used for menopause, insomnia, stress and anxiety. Anecdotally, people often experience improved digestion, deeper sleep and sharper mental clarity after just one appointment.
IS IT SAFE?
In a word, yes, but do your research. “Safety lies in the experience, skill and knowledge of the practitioner,” says Dr Lim. “A registered Chinese medicine practitioner who performs acupuncture is the best protection against any adverse effects because they have undertaken, at least a four-year degree course or equivalent.”
Occasionally there may be a bruise at the site of needle insertion, or a little bleeding when it’s removed.
To ensure you are being treated by a qualified professional, head to the Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners Board website and use the practitioner search tool to find the contact details for all registered and accredited members in your area. All Chinese medicine practitioners should be nationally registered and regulated under the Ministry of Health’s guidelines.
But it is also more than just skill. “Make sure to pick someone you click with,” says Dr Lim. “You need to be comfortable with who you choose. Don’t feel bad about trying out a few.”
(Related Story: 6 TCM Herbs To Improve Your Child’s Focus And Mental Alertness)