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A Hong Kong Hospital Authority-commissioned study shows that traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is as effective and can even alleviate the side-effects of mainstream weight-loss medications. A study in 2012 conducted by the Chinese University of Hong Kong used herbal treatments and acupressure to mitigate the prevalence of type-2 diabetes, frequently associated with obesity. The result of this study were “encouraging,” declares Professor Juliana Chan, the lead researcher. After four months, subjects using herbs and acupressure lost 5.8kg and 4.1kg respectively.
PRACTICAL TIPS TO EAT LESS
TCM believes that fat tissue is caused by phlegm and dampness. The spleen is the root of all phlegm production, and it is where phlegm transforms into body fluids. Consuming too much sweet foods or getting too little exercise may damage the spleen, causing metabolic wastes to gather and transform into dampness. Only when balance is restored can you metabolise process food properly, and thus shed excess weight.
“In TCM, when there is a deficiency of qi, blood, yin, yang, or blockage in the specific meridians, qi and blood circulation is hampered, and this leads to accumulation of qi-blood stasis, phlegm-dampness, or heat-dampness, which serves as underlying causes for fat deposited at specific locations,” explains Physician Lin Xiao Yan from Eu Yan Sang, which has been providing TCM products and services in Asia for more than a century.
Once your body constitution has been assessed and the cause of your obesity is determined, a course of treatment using acupuncture and herbal remedies can be prescribed [see sidebar].
SYMPTOMS & TREATMENTS I
SYMPTOMS & TREATMENTS II
Fatty Body Part
Acupoints to Stimulate
Tian Shu, Da Heng, Xia Wan, etc
Zhi Bian, Huan Tiao, Cheng Fu, etc
Nao Hui, Xiao Luo, Jian Zhen, etc
TARGETING SPECIFIC AREAS
Most men have fats deposited mainly at the belly and the waist; women often store them at the abdomen, pelvis and thighs, likely for gestation and lactation purposes. However, TCM treats the body as a whole. “TCM adopts syndrome differentiation in disease diagnosis, thus treatment rendered for each individual is unique and customised,” says Physician Lin. “Different herbal prescriptions and acupoints are applied to suit each individual’s body constitution. We believe that each part of the body is closely related and, by regulating the body as a whole, we can achieve weight reduction at localised areas.”
As certain acupoints correspond to certain parts of the body, it is possible for a physician to take a more targeted approach [see sidebar]. “For instance,” reveals Physician Lin, “big thighs are closely associated to the gallbladder meridian blockage, flabby arms are attributed to dysfunction of the small intestine meridians, while blockage of the bladder meridian is correlated to fats deposited at the back and hip areas.” Administering acupuncture on acupoints in the ears associated with the spleen and stomach have also given good results.
Another TCM method that can target problematic areas such as the abdomen and thighs is cupping. This treatment, used by some athletes at the Rio Olympics, involves creating a vacuum in cups that have been placed on the skin. The idea is to stimulate the flow of blood and qi.
Coupled with a healthy diet and regular exercise, these TCM approaches can complement conventional treatments and even reduce reliance on anti-obesity drugs, which can induce high blood pressure or emotional problems.
Go back to Part 1 to understand what diseases you’d be susceptible to if you were obese.
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