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Acupuncture and Weight Loss

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Eat less, exercise more. How many times have you heard this? If only it was that simple.

For many, weight gain can be due to things other than eating too much and not exercising enough. Thyroid function, stress, adrenal fatigue, lifestyle, and emotions can all play a role in weight gain and your ability to lose it.

What causes weight gain according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), and how do you lose it?

The spleen and stomach, in TCM, are the primary organ systems for digestion. Both are an integral part of maintaining a healthy life. They “harvest” qi by breaking down the food and sending the nutrients to the liver, where it will later be turned into blood. Proper functioning of the digestive system allows for a steady stream of qi to go to all the other organ systems. Any disruption to the function of the Spleen and Stomach can affect the whole body.


Excess of sweet and greasy foods, and high stress can cause the spleen to become deficient. Hindering its ability to transport and transform food efficiently.

Commonly seen symptoms of Spleen Qi Deficiency:

  • Loose sticky stool, or pencil thin, or alternating constipation/diarrhea
  • Flatulence
  • Belching
  • Cyclical over thinking & decreased ability to handle stress
  • Scallops on the side of the tongue, with greasy coat
  • Heavy limbed (difficult to move in the morning)
  • Foggy headed
  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • Craving sweets
  • Food sensitivities/allergies


It is important to recognize the roles the Liver plays as well. The Liver is responsible not only for making the blood, but also for nourishing the sinews and tendons. It is related to anger, stress, frustration, and unresolved emotions. When the Liver Qi becomes stagnant and restrained it can have an influence on the digestive system, and cause alternating loose stool and constipation. How many times in your life have you been stressed out about a big exam or presentation, and THAT is the day your body chooses to have diarrhea? That is a perfect example of how the Liver can influence the Spleen.


Another organ system that can affect weight loss is the Kidney. Think of the Kidneys as your “savings account”. They contain the vital, Jing, that was given to you the moment of conception. You can make withdrawals from it, but it is better to make the withdrawals from your checking account which would be the Spleen. Once the Jing runs out so to does your time on this earth. Frequently, when patients come in with difficult to lose weight it could be due to something Western Medicine has dubbed “Adrenal Fatigue”.  The Adrenals sit upon the Kidneys. The symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue look a lot like Spleen & Kidney Deficiency.

Adrenal Fatigue

  • Mild depression or anxiety
  • Multiple food and or inhalant allergies
  • Lethargy and lack of energy
  • Increased effort to perform daily tasks
  • Decreased ability to handle stress
  • Dry and thin skin
  • Low blood sugar
  • Low body temperature
  • Palpitation
  • Unexplained hair loss
  • Alternating diarrhea or constipation
  • Crave salty foods
  • Frequently sick

Kidney Deficiency

  • Fear
  • Fatigue/lethargy
  • Low back & knee weakness
  • Hair loss
  • Vision loss
  • Hearing loss
  • Low body temperature
  • Hot flashes/ night sweats
  • Night time urination
  • Dark circles under the eyes
  • Crave salty foods
  • Low bone density
  • Frequently sick

So How Do I Lose the Weight?!

There are many therapies that can be beneficial towards weight loss. However, it is important to remember that you have to want to do it. In the world of natural healing, it is important to be willing to make certain lifestyle changes. There isn’t one pill or a magic wand that will do it for you. Everything else is a support system.

  • Acupuncture
  • Herbal Medicine: Consider Chinese Herbs as a continuation of the treatment at home. They can be used to get to the root of the issue, and help speed up the healing process
  • Supplements
  • NAET Allergy Elimination: Occasionally, the inability to lose weight is due to multiple sensitivities.
  • Exercise: Walking at least 30 minutes a day is sufficient for helping the qi circulate.
  • Lifestyle: Limit over work or over training
  • Meditation: can be useful in helping to calm the mind and decreasing stress. Preventing binge eating.
  • Abdominal Massage: encourages the movement of waste within the large intestines
  • Eating Habits: Eat smaller meals through out the day. Cook/ blanch your food, and limit raw foods. Take your time eating. You should enjoy the act of eating, and not be eating while working or studying.
  • Avoid certain foods: Dairy, sugar, soy, grains (except rice or quinoa)
  • Cleanses & Intermittent Fasting: It is with hesitation these are listed. Cleanses are a multibillion dollar industry, some are good, some are harmful, and some are just a waste of money. Yes, even the ones you get from your doctor. If you choose to do a cleanse be sure that you are working with a trained professional that is utilizing high quality products. Honestly, in a number of cases you can effectively “cleanse” your system simply by increasing the amount of dark green leafy vegetables you are consuming.

About the author

Teri Calandra

Teri Calandra Dipl.Acu, MSTOM, L.Ac., LMT, RMT

Teri began her studies in energy medicine as part of her own personal development journey, and continues to to learn and integrate that knowledge into her practice. Teri is the founding practitioner of Calandra Center for Health & Wellness in Schaumburg, Illinois. She is licensed by the State of Illinois in acupuncture (L.Ac.), and board certified through the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM).

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