Statistics suggests that, on average, Americans gain about 2-5 pounds during the winter holiday season— the six-weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Although this amount may seem minor, the fact that this weight gain is often not lost over the remainder of the year adds up to extra pounds that tax the body’s health over time.
Just gaining a few pounds over the holidays each year can turn into a long-term problem. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 97.1 million adults are overweight, and 65 million of those people also meet the criteria for obesity. Approximately 280,000 deaths and 39.3 million missed workdays are attributable to obesity each year. Over the long term, this extra weight can be a major contributor to obesity and conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
Perhaps, then, it is no surprise that 80% of Americans make a New Year resolution each year, with twenty six percent of those resolutions being to improve overall health and fitness. The number one New Year resolution? To lose weight: fifty-nine million people every year count this as their top resolution.
While Americans spend $33 billion annually on weight-loss products and services, the prevalence of obesity increased by almost 30 percent between 1991 and 2000. Those seeking an alternative to diet fads and short-term solutions are turning to lifestyle changes that often include the use of acupuncture and Chinese medicine.
When attempting to diet, many people experience withdrawal, or cravings, because of a lack of endorphins. The need to eat is often so strong that dieters binge on food. This is one reason why diets often cause people to gain more weight rather than lose it. Acupuncture counterbalance these cravings by releasing endorphins in the brain, which actually alleviate the withdrawal symptoms many dieters experience and eventually succumb to. Acupuncture can also stimulate the hypothalamus. This induces weight loss because the hypothalamus regulates the body’s thyroid and hormone levels, which in turn regulate metabolism.
“Chinese medicine, which includes acupuncture, massage and herbal medicine, is a very popular way to help individuals relax and re-energize. Stress, depression and fatigue from overwork are often factors that lead people to over-eat and experience eventual weight gain. Acupuncture can help with these conditions; all things many of us experience during the holidays,” said licensed acupuncturist and American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Community Clinic Dean John Kolenda.
According to Kolenda, many patients report an enhanced sense of well-being and a deep feeling of relaxation after an acupuncture treatment. Acupuncture releases endorphins, the body’s own natural painkillers, and improves the circulation of blood and lymphatic fluids which bring fresh oxygen to body tissues. This increased oxygen flow eliminates waste products from inside the body and enhances recovery from diseases. Acupuncture also decreases the stress hormone cortisol, lower blood pressure, reduce the heart rate, and relax muscle tissue. “One of the reasons acupuncture is so popular is because it provides health benefits that are also free of side effects when performed by a licensed professional,” Kolenda said.
According to Chinese medical practitioners, Qi (or energy) is conducted between the surface of the body and internal organs along pathways called Meridians. It is Qi that regulates spiritual, emotional, mental and physical balance. When the flow of Qi is disrupted through stress, poor health habits or other circumstances, disease can result. Acupuncture helps keep the flow of this energy unblocked and release endorphins in the brain, thereby helping to maintain a person’s health.
The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) states that one out of every 10 adults in the United States has tried acupuncture, which has been cited by the World Health Organization to treat over 43 conditions.
American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine, a non-profit institution, has provided affordable, quality health care to the public and trained professionals in acupuncture and Chinese medicine since 1980. ACTCM has been the recipient of many awards for its curriculum, faculty and clinic, and has been voted “Best of the Bay” by both the San Francisco Weekly and the San Francisco Bay Guardian.
For more information on how acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help with weight loss, please call the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine at (415) 282-9603.