According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) theory, winter is the season to conserve our body’s energy to get ready for next year's growth and activities. At this time our bodies usually store a little more fat tissue then normal to increase energy levels for fighting the harsh weather. It is essential for men to have about 3-5% body fat, while the percentage of body fat for women usually is greater by about 10-16%, due to the demands of childbearing and other hormonal functions. Another important function of body fat is to protect our organs.
All in all, it is necessary for our bodies to retain a certain amount of body fat. However, the over consumption of high calorie foods and a stressful lifestyle has led many people to become overweight. There has been an increase in overweight-related medical problems including type II diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and joint problems associated with pain.
TCM observed overweight problems as early as in the Han dynasty. The practitioners’ records show this problem mostly occurred among rich people and noblemen, due to over consuming heavy, greasy foods and a lack of exercise – not unlike the modern understanding of undesirable eating habits and lifestyle as a number one reason for weight problems.
TCM does not just treat the symptoms but rather deals with the overall body condition that may have led to issues of being overweight. Once the body's balance is restored, an increased metabolism will better process food and metabolic wastes will be removed properly. Of course, physical constitutions can be inherited, but other factors, such as a person's metabolism, organ functions, eating habits, or even exercise patterns, should all be taken into account when calculating a specific ideal body weight.
There are two types of physical constitutions that cause people to have a tendency to become overweight: hot-damp and cold-damp. People with hot-dry physical constitutions seem to have faster metabolisms, so no matter what or how much they eat, they never become overweight. The ultimate goal is to make the physical constitutions of overweight people hot and dry. Because of their hot-damp or cold-damp constitutions, overweight people usually retain an excessive amount of water in the body, attributing to their weight problem. According to the TCM understanding of the problem of overweight, the principles for weight loss treatment are:
- Harmonize the stomach to promote fat digestion, and promote spleen function.
- Activate the blood to remove the stasis to improve overall metabolism and circulation.
- Sooth the liver Qi that can help increase the stability of emotions to avoid anxiety, depression and anger.
Overall, to achieve meaningful weight loss, a change of lifestyle is very important. Acupuncture can definitely help manage some urges in a completely natural way.