The function of the spleen and stomach system in Chinese Medical theory is to transform and transport the food that we eat. The spleen specifically can become imbalanced from dampness either from the environment (rain, snow) or the foods that we eat (processed food, excess sugar, dairy products, greasy foods etc). Dampness is a pathogen that weighs the body down literally through extra weight and energetically through fatigue. Chinese Medicine sees excess weight as an imbalance in the body.
Think about it, if your body is overweight you have a higher chance of developing high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer and so on. From this point of view the goal of acupuncture is not necessarily weight loss, it is harmony. When the body is in balance it knows how to process the foods that are consumed properly so that instead of storing food that is not needed it is eliminated. According to research from the Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine acupuncture is particularly useful for weight loss especially when the weight is carried around the abdomen and organs in middle aged people. Commonly people who are overweight have other imbalances such as hypertension, fatty liver, high cholesterol, menstrual or menopausal problems, stomach inflammation, constipation, or depression. Often times these other issues that may or may not seem related are actually the root cause of the weight gain. As we look at the body as a complete system the goal is to harmonize all organ systems so that the body can function most optimally. In this way the body naturally lets go of the excess weight it does not need and the effects of treatment positively impact the entire body. It is important to remember that balance is a process and being committed and consistent are key to lasting success. Weight gain does not happen over night and it is not reasonable to expect it to be lost over night either.
What you can do:
Eat breakfast and make it your largest meal of the day. The energy of the large intestine, spleen and stomach are most active in the morning. When you eat breakfast you stoke the fire of your metabolism so that your body has energy to get through the day.
Limit your intake of dairy and sweets. Dairy and empty sweet foods contribute to dampness and phlegm in the body. When the spleen is out of balance it will crave empty sweets like candy and ice cream (sweet and damp and just about the worst thing for your spleen). Yellow foods like squash as well as full sweet foods such as sweet potatoes nourish the spleen.
Don’t eat after 8:00pm. Your stomach should be finished with digestion when you go to sleep at night. In this way your body can use this time of rest to repair and rejuvenate instead of multitasking. Also, your stomach will be empty in the morning and ready for breakfast, making it easier to wake up.
Move your body everyday. For many people exercise is a dirty word, so change your language! Move your body a little bit every day in whatever way gives you joy. Talk a walk or a yoga class, dance while you’re cooking dinner, skip from your parking spot to the entrance of the grocery store, hula hoop. The more you move your body the more your body will want to move. Find a partner to keep it fun and accountable. I am doing the plank challenge right now with my sister. We have to text by 8pm everyday to say we’ve finished. We also added as many squats as seconds we are holding plank each day. Every time I get her text if I haven’t planked yet, I drop what I’m doing and get it done. If I would have done this by myself I would have already stopped by now.
“Just to let you know, I had acupuncture for six weeks for knee pain and low thyroid and noticed when I stepped on the scale I had lost 5 pounds without even trying or realizing it! That was an awesome benefit especially since I watch what I eat and workout 3 times a week and go to yoga 2 times a week and can never seem to tip the scale in my favor. I see acupuncture helping so many people. Thank you for the work you are doing to help people live a healthier life.” Joyce H