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Acupuncture for Weight Management

Weight management can be a challenging goal to navigate. You may have attempted to diet and exercise to lose weight and found it isn’t working. You aren’t the only one to feel this way; as of 2022, 1 out of 3 American adults are considered obese. While many celebrate body positivity, some people may find that their health and overall wellness decline as they gain weight. The serious risks of obesity include insulin resistance, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, gallstones, and risk of heart attack, to name a few. Acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine can be an effective way to lose weight, and even losing five to ten pounds can be beneficial to your health. 

The benefits of weight management include:

  • Reduce blood pressure levels
  • Balance blood sugar levels
  • Improve sleep
  • Balance hormones
  • Improve sex drive
  • Support a better mood
  • Relieve stress
  • Boost memory
  • Reduce brain fog

How can acupuncture help with weight loss?

You may be thinking, how are tiny needles going to help me lose weight? However, studies show that acupuncture can help with losing excess weight. Research showed that auricular acupuncture or acupuncture of the ear could help reduce food cravings and stress, as well as boost your mood. 

The approach of traditional Chinese medicine for weight management is to address the root causes of weight gain. TCM shows that moderation is a promising approach to weight loss; diet and exercise can also deplete the body of what it needs if it is done in excess. A balanced way to lose weight includes changing habits and routines and addressing the root causes of weight gain or weight loss that are not working. 

In traditional Chinese medicine, excessive weight is believed to be caused by an imbalance in the body. Often the imbalance is found in the spleen and liver organ functions. In addition, the kidney and endocrine system is involved with weight management as they help with hormonal balance and water retention. Stress and reproductive organs also play a part, so the evaluation includes adrenal, thyroid, and ovary gland functions. When acupuncture is used with conventional weight loss approaches such as diet and exercise, it is very effective.

Acupuncture techniques for weight management include:

  • Address root causes of weight gain or inability to lose weight
  • Acupuncture needles are placed on specific body points to stimulate nerves that address Qi or life energy, as well as metabolism. Depending on the root causes below, needles stimulate those organ systems. 
  • Auricular acupuncture or ear acupuncture using acupressure points to help with cravings and appetite
  • Traditional Chinese medicine formulas and techniques like aroma acupoint therapy to address root causes and imbalances in the body

Root causes of weight gain

TCM root causes for excessive weight

Hormone balance

Hormone imbalances affecting weight include cortisol, reproductive, thyroids, and endocrine hormones. The Spleen, Liver, and Kidney are the three main meridians primarily responsible for balancing hormones. Auricular acupuncture points like Shenmen and Endocrine may also help to balance your hormones. 


Acupuncture needles that focus on the pituitary gland can help balance metabolism and increase fat-burning and calorie burning in the body.

Digestion and Elimination

Digestion and elimination are also essential to look at when addressing weight loss. Your acupuncturist may choose various points on the Spleen, Stomach, or Large Intestine meridians to address slow digestion, nutrition absorption issues, gut health concerns, and relieve constipation. 


Food cravings and overeating can contribute to weight gain or the inability to lose weight. Undereating or calorie restriction can cause your metabolism to slow too much or cause metabolic damage. Acupuncture effectively reduces food cravings and some of the stress related to overeating. Auricular acupuncture points have been shown to be effective for cravings and appetite control.


Inflammation can often be the culprit causing havoc in our bodies – slowing down metabolism and causing digestion and gut issues. Acupuncture can help decrease oxidative stress and regulate the body’s immune response. Food sensitivities or intolerances may contribute to inflammation. It is best to determine if you have any food sensitivities or intolerances if you experience chronic inflammation or digestive complaints.

Fluid metabolism

Water retention or edema can cause obesity; acupuncture can help stimulate the endocrine and kidney systems. This helps your body stop storing excess water.  

Stress and mood

Chronic stress and mood imbalances can leave us feeling depleted and exhausted, leading to burnout. And, let’s face it, implementing a new diet and exercise routine is hard enough when we are feeling well and motivated.  Acupuncture considers a person’s constitution and their overall health including their emotions when devising an individualized treatment plan. Stress reduction and mood-lifting are two crucial parts of a traditional Chinese medicine approach to weight loss. Acupuncture can trigger the release of “feel-good” hormones or endorphins into the body. This is an effective way for stress reduction, decreased anxiety and overwhelm, and reduces the urge to overeat for comfort. 

Aroma acupoint therapy can be an excellent method for restoring the balance between body and mind. This kind of therapy uses specific acupoints on the body in collaboration with essential oils to stimulate the limbic system, which is responsible for controlling emotions, memory, and fight or flight stress response. 

Chinese herbs for weight loss

Chinese herbs for weight management

 Your acupuncturist may recommend the following Chinese herbal formulas for weight loss:

  • Fang Ji Huang Qi – used traditionally since 220 A.D., this formula helps regulate fluid metabolism in the body
  • Modified Fang Feng Tong Sheng San – this formula addresses overeating, edema, phlegm, and bloating
  • Shen Ling Bai Zhu Pian – tonifies the spleen, which helps with digestion and reduces dampness which increases the size of fat cells
  • Da Chai Hu Tang – helps improve digestion, especially constipation issues that can lead to stagnant liver function

Other traditional Chinese medicine approaches

  • Exercise in moderation
  • Eat in moderation
  • Chew food well
  • Eat a nutrient-dense diet
  • Reduce stress

Support on your weight loss journey

Sometimes you need more than tips; you need someone to guide you through the practice of adopting new routines. Reach out to us to schedule your 15-complimentary consult to learn more about our unique method of weight management and the types of healing practices that will work best for your individualized needs.