Losing weight can be a daunting and often frustrating journey that many people have to traverse during their lives. Fad diets often entice people by their promise to drop large amounts of weight in short amounts of time. Unfortunately, those that utilize a fad diet end up gaining more weight than before they went on a diet. This is because food restriction and being told never to eat entire categories of food again are not sustainable diets long term. Plus, weight loss is more complicated than just restricting foods. Correcting deeper imbalances in the body, mind, and emotions are essential to successfully lose weight and keep it off (for good). 

While a proper diet and exercise plan is a topic of another article, acupuncture can be a great addition to your weight loss program as it can help reduce food cravings and treat the underlying causes of your weight gain. 

Acupuncture is an excellent addition to a well-executed diet and exercise plan for weight loss.

Conventional Medicine Methods for Weight Loss

Conventional medicine seems to be relatively stumped in effectively getting their patients to lose weight sustainably. You can trace the cause of this failure to the lack of nutrition education in most medical schools and their emphasis on acute illness as compared to chronic and preventative care. 

The primary method that conventional doctors have at their disposal for weight loss are stimulant drugs. Stimulant drugs such as methamphetamines and phentermine work by speeding up metabolism and making people feel less hungry. While this may sound like an attractive option, keep in mind that this approach is not addressing underlying causes of weight gain and that the weight gain is likely to return once you stop taking the stimulant. Also, these stimulants have side effects and may promote some weight loss…but they do not promote health!

Other medical weight loss programs may include HCG, which is a hormone that a woman’s body releases during pregnancy. It is thought that HCG helps to increase fat utilization, but the truth is, HCG diets are paired with a 500 calorie per day diet, which is essentially a starvation diet. Research has shown that it is the 500 a day calorie diet that causes people to drop weight on HCG diets, and HCG does not make a significant difference. Plus, it goes without saying that a starvation diet is not sustainable or healthy.

To sustainably achieve weight loss, a person has to change their diets, exercise regularly, manage stress, and address the underlying reasons why they are overeating calories (hint, often, this is mental-emotional based!). Keep in mind that there are medical reasons why someone may gain weight and have difficulty losing weight, such as hypothyroidism, depression, and other concerns. In these cases, treating the underlying condition is essential for losing weight and feeling better. 

Acupuncture for weight loss gilbert arizona

Acupuncture for Weight Loss

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, weight gain and obesity are considered to be an accumulation of dampness and phlegm. The Chinese medicine organ associated with phlegm accumulation is the spleen, which can be damaged by the overindulgence in sweets, excess worry, overwork, and adrenal fatigue, or hypothyroidism. Interestingly, the overindulgence in sweets (calories in) is considered a significant factor for weight gain in conventional medicine. The spleen is also responsible for moving and transforming fluids in our body, and if the spleen is damaged by sweets or not exercising, fluids will stop moving and start accumulating. The accumulation of fluids causes dampness, which eventually turns into phlegm, aka extra weight!

Things that can damage the spleen qi:

  • Overindulgence in sweets
  • Too many raw, cooling foods (ice cream)
  • Lack of exercise
  • Overthinking, Worry, Stress
  • Lots of Studying, concentrating, memorizing

Treating the whole person, and looking at where symptoms are originating from is the foundation of Naturopathic Medicine and Chinese Medicine & Acupuncture. 

acupuncture for weight loss

Obesity can also be linked to our digestion as the spleen and stomach are the primary organs responsible for digestion. One of the most common conditions encountered in practice is spleen Qi deficiency, which can cause fluids to accumulate due to the lack of energy (Qi) pushing and transforming the fluids. Spleen Qi deficiency can result in fluids being transformed into dampness and the dampness turning into phlegm and obesity. 

Symptoms of spleen qi deficiency can include:

  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Loose stools & digestive issues
  • Low appetite
  • Gas, bloating & abdominal distention
  • Tendency to obesity
  • Tendency to depression
  • Brain fog
causes of weight gain

Stomach heat can also be involved in the formation of phlegm as the heat can burn up the liquids causing them to condense. In western medicine terms, eating inflammatory and highly processed foods can lead to stomach heat. Keep in mind that the spleen and the stomach are intricately connected organs, and dysfunction in one can easily cause a dysfunction in the other. 

Symptoms of heat in the stomach include

  • Thirst
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Burning pain in the stomach region
  • Ravenous hunger without the desire to eat
  • Strong urge to drink cold beverages
  • Constant nausea


causes of weight gain gilbert az

Spleen and Kidney Yang Deficiency

In TCM, there is always a balance of yin and yang. Where yin is cooling, nourishing, moistening, resting, night time, female, yang is warming, energizing, drying, day time, and male. In essence, yang is our metabolic rate. Since the Spleen and Kidney meridians are responsible for creating our energy, digestive fire, and metabolism, a yang deficiency means a slow, sluggish metabolism. This can, therefore, lead to weight gain.

Symptoms of spleen and kidney yang deficiency can include:

  • Fatigue and desire to lay down
  • Feeling cold & cold limbs
  • Pale complexion
  • Loose stools & digestive issues
  • Low appetite
  • Abdominal distention after eating
  • Tendency to obesity
  • Tendency to depression
  • Water retention (edema)

Effective weight loss programs require a multi-pronged approach to treatment, and acupuncture is an excellent adjunct that has been shown in clinical trials to be an effective addition to diet and exercise. It is not the isolated use of one modality that you’re likely to see the weight loss goals you desire but the combination of many. For optimal weight loss results, you should work with a healthcare provider that is trained in a variety of modalities, such as acupuncture, nutrition, and exercise plan formations. 

causes of weight gain and treatment options

What to Expect from Acupuncture for Weight Loss

Acupuncture therapy is a very relaxing experience. The session is about 45 minutes long and involves a thorough intake of all your symptoms and a physical exam. In Chinese medicine, your physical appearance is essential in determining what is going on deeper within the body. The body never lies. Your Naturopathic Doctor will look at your tongue, skin, face, nails, as well as feel your pulses to gain insight into the root cause of your symptoms.

Once the doctor has assessed your condition, he or she will create an individualized acupuncture protocol, which may also include moxa, cupping, gua sha, as well as acupressure massage.

How Many Acupuncture Sessions Do I Need?

Most people experience relief after their first few sessions. In most cases, people require 8-12 sessions in total spaced 4-7 days apart, along with a complete weight loss program. It is important to schedule your sessions close together and regularly to ensure you get the most benefit from your acupuncture session.

Acupuncture for weight loss is a safe and effective therapy with no downtime or side effects. People love the way they feel after acupuncture and using therapies that work with their bodies and treat the underlying cause.

If you would like more information on acupuncture for weight loss, give us a call! Our Doctors work with men and women to lose weight safely and effectively.
We also offer all-inclusive medical weight loss programs which include acupuncture, a personalized diet & exercise program, a comprehensive hormone assessment, fat burner shots & more. Click HERE to learn more.

Or, schedule an appointment to get started with our Naturopathic Doctors and get started on your health journey. 


  1. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Uner_Tan/publication/7377409_The_treatment_of_obesity_by_acupuncture/links/5d3eb6d9a6fdcc370a695b28/The-treatment-of-obesity-by-acupuncture.pdf
  2. https://europepmc.org/article/med/9679359
  3. https://www.worldscientific.com/doi/abs/10.1142/S0192415X75000311
  4. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/tswj/2012/603539/
  5. https://www.nature.com/articles/ijo2008269