How TCM can help with weight loss

Wanting to get rid of some extra body weight is a common concern for a lot of people. Obviously, the most tried and true way to do this is to increase the number of calories we use, while decreasing the amount that we take in to create a net loss, which makes our body start to use our fat stores to provide the energy we need. There is no substitute for a healthy lifestyle that includes good nutrition and some regular exercise. However, there are some cases and situations where that is not enough or sometimes someone needs a little extra support to help them meet their weight loss goals.

Traditional Chinese Medicine’s approach to weight loss

Traditional Chinese medicine has a wide variety of approaches that can be used to help those people seeking to lose some extra pounds. The first thing that needs to happen is a good differential diagnosis, meaning that your acupuncturist figures out what is going on and why that is happening. In regards to extra weight, this could amount to things like emotional eating or stress eating, possibly metabolic or hormone issues, or other causes. In general, though, the common factor in people with extra weight will be what is called Dampness in TCM.

Why dampness causes weight gain and how diet contributes

Dampness is considered a pathogen that is comprised of accumulations of substances that should be used or flushed from the body. Dampness can appear in many forms such as excess mucous or phlegm, swelling or edema, or extra body fat. Common symptoms of dampness include fatigue, a heavy feeling, especially in the arms and legs, weak muscles, a sticky or thick taste or sensation in the mouth, and sometimes poor appetite and other digestive problems.

To approach treating dampness, first diet and lifestyle need to be addressed. In addition to avoiding high fat and poor quality foods, TCM has some good dietary principles to help reduce dampness. In general, sugary foods, dairy products, fried foods, and wheat products can all produce dampness. Avoiding or minimizing these during your weight loss journey will be essential. Certain foods such as Job’s Tears or Coix Seeds are also integrated into the diet as a type of food therapy as well.

The benefits of accupuncture and herbal medicine for dampness

Acupuncture can also be used to help boost your metabolism to make sure you are getting all the nutrients out of your food and helping with digestion so that everything is regular and we aren’t retaining weight because of poor digestion and retained foods. Additionally, there are some good acupuncture points that can help to eliminate dampness in the body. There are also some great acupuncture points in the ear that can help with food addictions and appetite suppression for cases where emotional overeating is the root issue.

Finally, Chinese Herbal Medicine can also be used to help eliminate dampness, strengthen our digestive system, and reduce emotional stresses that can lead to overeating or overindulgence. There are some good standard formulas that can be used, and as always with Chinese herbal medicine, custom blends of herbs can be created to address a person’s unique situation and needs.

So while there is no quick and easy way to lose the extra weight that may be weighing on us, TCM can offer some good support to make the process easier and help the pounds come off a little quicker.


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Christopher Shiflett L.Ac  M.S. TCM, Dipl. O.M. (NCCAOM)

Christopher Shiflett L.Ac M.S. TCM, Dipl. O.M. (NCCAOM)

Founder & Clinic Director

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