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Acupuncture may be the key to losing weight

July 5, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
More people are turning to acupuncture for weight loss, as it may be the key to reducing certain cravings. Health specialist Denise Dador looked into this ancient art to find out how it can actually help you stop craving your favorite foods.It's bathing suit season, and 26-year-old Sara Hamilton needs help shedding the last few pounds, but it's hard when she's always craving sweets.

"I don't think those afternoon chocolates help very much with the bathing suit goal," Sara said.

Sara has tried all kinds of diets she just can't stick to. Now, she's turning to acupuncture to help stop her food cravings.

Internist Dr. Paulette Saddler says it's about targeting what your body is addicted to. The techniques are similar to what she would use to help a person quit smoking.

"They're both really addictions. You can be addicted to food, you can be addicted to tobacco, and you can be addicted to alcohol or to other drugs," Saddler said.

Saddler zeroes in on specific points known to help restore the body's energy balance. These points may also help reduce stress.

"Stress and eating tend to go hand in hand," Saddler said.

People who practice acupuncture believe when a person overeats, it's because the body is out of balance. The goal behind this ancient art is to restore balance by freeing up blocked energy channels called meridians.

Besides needles, Saddler tapes tiny seeds at specific points in the ear.

"This is another non-needle technique, so everything that we do does not require a needle," Saddler said.

Saddler says there is medical proof that acupuncture curtails some of the physiological triggers that lead to addictive behaviors.

"When you feel those urges, I want you to press on these little seeds," Saddler told Sara.

The first thing Saddler suggests is to keep a food diary so you know exactly what foods are being eaten in excess and how much. She says it usually takes two months for patients to see changes.

While nothing can take the place of a healthy diet and exercise, some believe acupuncture may be the tool that'll help people stick to a plan. Sara says the experience was actually quite pleasant.

"It's not anything I expected. I was a little hesitant because I'm very afraid of needles, but I didn't feel it at all," Sara said.

To reduce sugar cravings, Saddler asked Sara to add more protein into her breakfast and lunch, and whenever she feels an urge to splurge, she can press on her ear for a little support.


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