Acupuncture for Weight Loss – How Effective?

Finding balance in life, yin and yang
Balancing yin and yang

If acupuncture for weight loss works, how does it work, how long does it work for, and which acupuncture points do the trick? And will acupuncture do it without having to do anything else?

A question for you!

Given that World Health Organisation figures in 2005 showed that out of 6.5B humans worldwide then alive, 1.6Bn were overweight and 400M were obese, (which means just under a third of us were classified as overweight) and the problem is worsening, if acupuncture for weight loss works, why aren’t all acupuncturists rich?

OK, so why try acupuncture?

Very good reasons!

But before answering, why would people wish to lose weight?

Here are some possibilities. You may or may not think they are reasonable, but here they are:

  • To look more attractive
  • To improve your health
  • To reduce cardiovascular disease
  • To reduce metabolic diseases like type 2 diabetes
  • To fit into clothes
  • To enhance musculature
  • To look thin
  • To avoid criticism


As a small aside, don’t forget that many people would like to weigh more! Thin or weedy, they’d love to ‘bulk up’ a bit. What about them? Can acupuncture help them?

And what about people who like to play sports, and athletes?


And let us avoid all the questions about BMI (click here for BMI) which show that you are over the recommended weight for your height etc. Let’s just assume that you want to lose weight, rightly or wrongly.

Acupuncture’s been used for between 3000 and 5000 years, that we know about for sure.


How long has weight loss been a real and common issue?

Not that long, if we put aside a small group at the elite top of society who have always had more money and fat, because of no need for physical work.

The rest of us, barring those with disease or inherited conditions, mostly haven’t been overweight simply because

  • we lacked access to food surplus to our needs and
  • we had to do hard physical work to earn a living. 


For many, stress itself is an effective mechanism, though for others it stimulates the urge to eat. You’ll see why in a moment.

First, if you don’t have any surplus flesh, less politely called ‘fat’, then your reasons for losing weight, or indeed using acupuncture for weight loss, may not be so good:

  • anorexics, though already thin, want to lose more
  • some fitness and bodybuilder competitors want to lose normal body fat to enhance their musculature
fat loss reveals muscles
Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash
  • models/actors starve themselves to meet appearance criteria
  • older people starve to save money
  • parents starve themselves in favour of their children

Acupuncture for Weight Loss?

If you are one of the above, going on exercise and diet regimes will not, from a Chinese medical perspective, be favourable for your long-term health.

Why? Because, although one salutes people such as fitness competitors and actors who have the determination to achieve physical goals, they often do so only by putting themselves through a process that Chinese medical practitioners might regard as being too extreme for long-term health.

People’s physiology is so different person-to-person that one cannot generalise. What one person finds easy would damage another.

But even so…

The thinking behind Chinese medicine tends to be long-term: they want you live a long time.

Yoga can develop health and resilience, better than weight loss
Photo by Dane Wetton on Unsplash

Over-straining joints when you are young, or starving yourself too often, means that those joints may not support you when you are old, and what is called your Spleen energy may become less reliable.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you should become a couch potato! Far from it, and learning Tai Chi for example is hard work and keeps you fit and helps weight loss.

But it seldom strains you, and it also seeks to exercise all your inner organs in a way that keeps them and you healthy.

So, assuming you aren’t one of those listed above, and you want to lose surplus ‘fat’ by using acupuncture for weight loss, what is ‘fat’ in Chinese medicine? And why are you making too much fat?


Jonathan Brand colours

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