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How It Can Help by Norah McIntire

As an acupuncturist, I get a lot of questions about what types of health problems acupuncture can help. Probably the most frequent question people ask is whether or not acupuncture can help with weight loss. Weight loss was once thought to be simply an issue of how many calories you eat versus how many calories you burn. However, the conversation around weight loss is becoming more complicated as researchers look into everything from gut bacteria to hormone levels to chronic inflammation to sleep quality to stress levels as influences on a person’s weight and metabolism. This is where acupuncture can be a useful addition to efforts to lose weight. Acupuncture is not a magic bullet that will make the pounds simply fall off. However, it can be a helpful adjunct to weight loss efforts because it supports overall physical and emotional health. Specifically, it helps balance the major systems of the body, including the nervous system, immune system, and hormones. This means that acupuncture can often help in the following types situations:

  • Because it has a calming effect on the body and mind, acupuncture can help relieve emotional eating or compulsive overeating due to stress, depression, or anxiety.
  • Insufficient sleep can contribute to weight gain, craving for carbohydrates, and poor blood sugar regulation. Acupuncture can help address insomnia, improving sleep quantity and quality.
  • Elevated levels of cortisol in the body, which occur during times of stress, are associated with increased cravings for sugary, fatty foods, as well as the accumulation of abdominal fat. Calming the nervous system and addressing stress or anxiety with acupuncture can help interrupt this cycle.
  • Acupuncture can also help regulate appetite in cases of excessive physical hunger. There are small studies that suggest it may help regulate the hormones that signal whether you are hungry or full.
  • Acupuncture can support regular exercise and physical activity by relieving joint and muscle soreness, addressing injuries that prevent exercise, and improving energy levels.
  • Acupuncture can be part of a person’s overall wellness plan, which ideally includes solid nutrition, healthy activity, stress management and social support. Weight is one aspect of health, but true balance is reflected in feeling good physically, emotionally, and mentally.
  • Acupuncture does not replace healthy nutrition and appropriate physical activity, but it can help weight loss efforts because it works to balance the entire body.

Norah McIntire earned her master’s degree from Pacific College of Oriental Medicine in San Diego and is both California licensed and nationally certified in acupuncture and herbal medicine. In addition, Norah has studied in China, doing clinical work at Nanjing Hospital and attending seminars through the China Nanjing International Acupuncture Training Center. Norah has been in private practice since 2002, beginning her career in a busy, established acupuncture center in La Jolla, California. There she gained extensive experience with a number of health issues, including infertility, chronic pain, gynecological issues, anxiety, depression, addictions, and digestive disorders. She practiced at this center for almost ten years before opening her own practice in Los Angeles. She has privately studied meditation, tai chi and qi gong for many years and also earned certification in posture therapy, which corrects body alignment through therapeutic exercises. She combines all these tools to create a thorough and unique treatment plan for each person.

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