Published: 07/05/2010 - Updated: 07/10/2016
We all know that having a few extra kilos is not just a matter of aesthetics, but that overweight or obesity is a health issue. Accompanying these excess kilos, may arise other diseases such as hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, diabetes, etc. and with it an increased risk of circulatory, coronary or arthritic disorders, among others. Thus we must take matters into our body and commit to live longer and better!
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can help you lose weight because it treats the human body as an organic whole that must be kept in balance and this equilibrium disappears when the disease appears, in this case the weight gain and / or obesity. This alternative therapy puts special emphasis on maintaining the balance of the person as the key to health: food balance, balance between rest and physical activity, emotional balance, etc. The shortfalls or excesses in any area of our lives will lead to an imbalance and eventually to disease. Identifying the cause of it will be important to seek solutions that will help us to avoid, reduce or prevent its recurrence.
Meaning in TCM
For TCM, obesity or overweight is linked to an accumulation of “Tan” (moisture) and it will be involved mainly in the organs related to digestion and metabolism, Spleen and Stomach. Both have the function of processing and transport of food and liquids. An imbalance of Spleen-Stomach will affect the digestive process. Therefore, the diet will be one of the main causes of the pathologies of these organs. While one should not forget the emotions, especially, concerns that will cause a reflection in Stomach Qi stagnation and spleen weakness. Spleen also controls the muscles, and according to ancient books, "sitting too much damage muscles” (i.e., Spleen), which could translate today to physical inactivity.
Before starting treatment, it’s convenient and appropriate to make a correct diagnosis through a differentiation of syndromes according to Traditional Chinese Medicine. We will use various diagnostic methods to know: observation (physical appearance, structure and body movement, etc..), interrogation (on accompanying symptoms, family history, lifestyle and food), palpation, auscultation and olfaction, not forgetting about the pulse and the state of the tongue. We try to make a diagnosis on which to base the treatment in addition to find the cause that has led to the energy imbalance between Yin and Yang. One of the differences of Chinese Medicine with regard to the West is that not only performs a symptomatic etiology, but tries to find the cause that produced the disorder and tries to correct it.
By the differentiation of syndromes we attempt to determine the underlying imbalance of the clinical manifestations identified by the four diagnostic methods mentioned above and once identified the syndrome or syndromes, we consider the therapeutic principles that we apply and how we will treat.
According to TCM, there are three types of obesity and overweight associated with an imbalance of energy in the body, which primarily affects the Spleen and Stomach.
Yin Obesity: caused by a power failure of the Spleen and Stomach Yang.
Presenting symptoms like water retention, more important in the lower body, hands and feet are cold, poor appetite and thirst, preference for hot foods and drinks, body heaviness, tiredness, fatigue, bloating, loose stools, feeling cold, move slowly and sleeping a lot, pale and swollen tongue with teeth marks, weak pulse and slippery.
Yang Obesity: caused by an excess of yang or heat in stomach and intestine.
The following symptoms: very hungry and very thirsty, preference for cold food and drinks, constipation, flushed face, pain and swelling and bleeding gums, halitosis, acid regurgitation, stomach pain with burning, warmth, red tongue with thick yellow layer and dry and hard and fast pulse.
Hereditary Obesity: caused by a deficiency of Kidney (derived from genetic causes).
Presenting symptoms accompanying the overweight will be knees and lower back pain, bone problems, poor memory, loss and premature graying of hair, loss of teeth, tongue red and peeling and weak pulse.
This type of obesity will be difficult to solve because we cannot change our genetic component.
Other important factors
I should also mention that behind the idea to lose weight, we can find problems such as anxiety, stress, compulsive eating, depression ... in which symptoms such as insomnia, palpitations, irritability, etc. will be accompanied by excess weight. We talked about that TCM views the whole person, body and mind as a whole, so if we fail to correct these emotional problems, we will not achieve the expected results in terms of weight loss. Emotions in TCM are related to a blockade of Liver Qi, therefore we must not forget to remove the stagnation, causing, among others, anxiety about eating or eating out of hours.
We must emphasize how important the diagnosis and proper treatment selection are. The TCM offers various therapeutic tools to help you lose weight: acupuncture and moxibustion, ear acupuncture, herbal medicine and Chinese dietetics, the Tuina and Qi Gong.
Acupuncture: is the introduction of very fine needles into certain energy points of the human body, called acupuncture points, located along the route of the meridians, to obtain well-defined effects. Searches rebalance the energy of each body organ. It has a regulatory effect and control hunger.
Moxibustion: the local application of heat through the combustion of Artemis, on the same points or larger areas seeking to improve the symptoms of cold and invigorate yang, strengthens and tones especially spleen and kidney. Used alone or in combination with acupuncture.
Auriculotherapy: is the method to diagnose and treat the human body through the ear. The ear reflects the image of a fetus in the womb and in it are represented all the organs. The meridians reach it. These serve as a connection between the ear and the entire human body, hence we can treat the changes in any part of the body through stimulation with needles in the ear. The Auriculotherapy has a direct and rapid action on the whole organization. Helps soothe anxiety and hunger in addition to prolonging the effects of body acupuncture.
Chinese Diet: 5 ranks foods according to temperature and five flavors. The hotter, add more energy Yang and the colder, more yin energy. For example, cold and raw foods like salads and fruit, can weaken the spleen, in particular the Spleen Yang, while hot foods like spicy foods, alcohol or red meat, will lead to hot symptoms, especially stomach. Moreover, excessive consumption of fatty foods and fried as favoring the production of moisture.
Herb therapy: is the use of products of plant origin for therapeutic purposes, to prevent, mitigate or cure disease. Is used taking into account the properties of medicinal plants, according to TCM: nature, taste, meridian direction and performance. It helps to strengthen the effects of acupuncture. Regarding the latter, its therapeutic effect is slow and gradual onset, but more potent and prolonged in time.
Tuina: technical manual maneuvers that combines massage, mobilization, acupressure, manipulation and traction is achieved through stimulating the flow of Qi and Xue flowing through the meridians in the body, regulate internal organs and body energy balance.
Gymnastics Qi Gong or Chinese energy: bio-energy has a variety of exercises to promote quality and quality of Qi through breathing and visualization supported by the movement. Aid to energy regulation of the bodies involved.
The choice of one technique or another should be individualized because we must not forget that there are no diseases but sick people. We may use acupuncture, herbal medicine and Auriculotherapy or unique methods of treatment, or combine among themselves or with other techniques of Western medicine. It is wise to make complementary treatments that increase further the benefits of each technique. With them we will seek to balance the Yin and Yang energies of the body, regulate metabolism, facilitate the removal of fluids, treat the hungry, control anxiety and maintain a proper emotional state. Moreover, Chinese medicine not only achieve our aim of losing weight but improve other functional symptoms as trouble sleeping, companions at the bathroom or digestive disorders among others.
An example of treatment for obesity, type Yin, in which there is an insufficiency of Spleen and Stomach Yang might be: hot foods that provide heat, such as soups and stocks and remove cold foods like salads, fruits, cold drinks and ice cream. We may use herbal formulas that tonify the bodies in deficiency, in this case Spleen and Stomach. With acupuncture and moxibustion we will improve symptoms of cold and removing moisture and unlock the Liver Qi, possible causes of compulsive eating. The hear therapy would serve to extend the benefits of acupuncture. The Qi Gong Tuina could help rebalance the body energy and relax the mind.
In addition to the proposed treatments, some of the things to consider are:
- Changing inadequate eating habits
- Having a meal plan tailored to each case
- Practicing physical activity in a moderate and regular way
- Get enough rest
- Lead an orderly life
- Maintaining emotional stability
- Perform a relaxation technique to help control anxiety and reduce stress
Source: TCM College