By Stephen Sedita, AP
Obesity is medically defined as being 20% or higher above the normal weight. With years of clinical experience in successfully treating weight loss Dr. Meng has found many patients misunderstand causes of obesity; often only thinking of body fat resulting from overeating. While fat is the most obvious source of extra weight it’s not the only one. The accumulation of wastes inside the intestines and water retention can also contribute to weight gain. Stress and hormonal imbalances also affect both weight gain and retention. These factors are important and often overlooked in conventional weight loss programs.
Obesity is typically divided into two types: pathological and physiological. Pathological obesity refers to weight gain due to factors that can be changed, such as diet, lifestyle, curing temporary illness, adjusting medications, etc. Physiological obesity refers to people whose bodily function is more deeply impaired such as in cases of endocrine and genetic disorders, and physical trauma such as brain damage or organ removal. Pathological types of obesity can be treated with Tradition Chinese Medicine (TCM) very effectively and with great results whereas physiological types are much more difficult and in some cases impossible to treat.
Stress is one of the most common causes of obesity and has two main ways that it leads to weight gain. The first is stress eating; whereby stress results in the urge to eat not to satisfy hunger but as a means of coping with the stress. Chronic stress impairs the functioning of the internal organs, interferes in fat metabolism, and promotes fat storage, all of which results in weight gain. Acupuncture is a very effective treatment for any stress related types of obesity. TCM can help to reduce cravings, and more importantly to reduce both bodily and psychological stress.
Some people are overweight due to excessive secretion of gastric acids that causes intense feelings of hunger that return shortly after eating. People who have this type of obesity basically feel hungry all the time and that feeling of hunger is only very temporarily relieved by eating. In TCM this type of person is said to have a “roaring fire in the stomach”. In this case the function of acupuncture is to reduce the fire in the stomach. By using a method known as clearing heat along with general body balancing, acupuncture treatment will help to restore normal levels of gastric secretions, and thereby reduce and eventually eliminate the constant urge to eat.
Another cause of weight gain can be chronic constipation. With chronic constipation the fecal matter can become hard and compact and can interfere in the proper functioning of the large intestine. It becomes a snowball effect; the more fecal matter builds up the harder it becomes to remove it and the harder it becomes for the intestine to function correctly. In TCM this condition is sometimes called “fire in the intestine”, which reflects the lack of adequate fluids (think of them as being burned off by the fire), or “dryness of the intestine” where lack of adequate fluids case the fecal matter to dry and crust against the intestinal walls. Acupuncture treatment can promote bowel movement and help restore the proper functioning of the large intestine and herbal therapy can help to break up and clear away the hard compacted fecal matter.
Hormone imbalance is another cause of obesity and affects women more often than men. During menopause, because of low levels of activity and hormonal imbalance, women are more susceptible to weight gain. Hormonal imbalances, in both men and women, can also trigger stress or emotional eating and thus lead to weight gain. Acupuncture treatment and herbal therapy both help to regulate and balance hormone levels at all ages, and therefore help hormonal related obesity.
Finally there is water retention, or edema. Acute edema, which can be caused by illness, allergy, or poor diet is generally much easier to treat than chronic edema. In TCM there are two types of edema; yin and yang, which roughly are equivalent to chronic and acute. The yang type the skin will be taught and shiny, and if pressed the skin will rebound quickly. With yin edema the skin is often dark, dry or rough looking, and when pressed an indent may remain in the skin for several seconds. The yang type is easier to treat and weight loss will occur much quicker than with the yin type. Often times with chronic/yin edema weight loss is not possible until the body functions, especially thos
regarding water metabolism, are improved. Acupuncture combined with herbal therapy is the best course of treatment.
Regardless of the cause or type of obesity all people trying to lose weight need to watch what they eat. In TCM all foods have different qualities or properties and some foods that would be beneficial for one person may actually aggravate the condition of another. For example, someone with a cold should eat lots of garlic and ginger, whereas someone with stomach fire should avoid them. Therefore the standard dietary approach of many weight loss programs, whereby all patients are given the same diet to follow, is not optimal and in some cases can be an impediment to optimal weight loss.
Dr. Meng’s weight loss program is unique because unlike most other approaches where one size/style/method fits all, each patient receives unique and customized treatment to maximize their individual weight loss success. Just as there is no one single cause of obesity there is no one single treatment option. Dr. Meng draws from years of personal experience and the rich history of TCM to develop the best course of treatment for each patient.
Yanhong “Gina” Meng is a licensed Acupuncture Physician and Doctor of Oriental Medicine. Dr. Meng graduated from Shan Dong Traditional Chinese Medicine University in 1996, where she studied acupuncture and other Traditional Chinese Medicine Techniques. From 1996 to 1999 Dr. Meng practiced at the Shan Dong Lai Wu Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital, where she worked under the direction of the noted Dr. Gu Dao Xia, inventor and pioneer in Acupuncture Point Nutritional Injection Therapy. From 1999 to 2001 Dr. Meng attended Shen Yang Western University, where she studied the theory and practical application of Traditional Chinese Medicine in conjunction with modern Western medicine. In 2002 Dr. Meng completed a rigorous clinical practice rotation at the prestigious Beijing Traditional Chinese Medicine University. In 2002 through 2004 Dr. Meng operated a Traditional Chinese Medicine Clinic in Dublin, Ireland. In 2007 Dr. Meng graduated with honors from the Atlantic Institute of Oriental Medicine, an accredited and nationally recognized master degree level program in oriental medicine. She has owned and operated Mengs Acupuncture Medical Center since 2007.
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Different Causes of Obesity and Treatment with Acupuncture
By Stephen Sedita, AP