Weight Loss & Healthy Eating with Chinese Medicine.

Weight loss and / or weight gain from a Chinese Medicine (CM) perspective is something quite different to what we regularly hear about on TV, in magazines and social media here in Australia. As with medical diagnosis in CM, there can be a few different approaches, which is determined by the individual presentation of the patient. Possibly the most common CM pathology is that of ‘Spleen qi deficiency, generating damp.’ Broken down into a simple explanation this basically means that digestive power is decreased with a propensity for us to hold onto excess fluids and generate body fat.

Spleen qi deficiency can occur due to a number of reasons such as overindulging in ‘damp forming foods’ such as ice cream and cheese, fast foods & eating in a hurry, an excess of greasy foods, foods high in processed sugar, an excess of cold foods (slows the digestive process) and cold drinks like chilled wine and beer. Shift workers are particularly vulnerable to eating at irregular times and for that reason they might find digestive disorders, in CM the peak time for digestion is between 7-11am and it is during these hours that it is most beneficial to eat the largest meal of the day; and for similar reasons eating late at night and prior to going to bed can be quite destructive to the waistline.

Scholars of Chinese Medicine had an amazing knowledge of the human body long before anatomy knowledge was enhanced by the scalpel. So you might be wondering why the Spleen is associated with digestion? Some scholars say that when the ancient texts were translated that there was a mistranslation and the Pancreas was confused with the Spleen; however for all intensive purposes the actual translation is unimportant as the way digestive disorders are actually treated is the same regardless.

Emotions are very important in CM, different emotions resonate with various organ functions, and for the Spleen (or digestion) the main emotion is worry. So the physical act of eating, and improving digestion relies heavily on taking time to eat when we are relaxed, not rushing, not sitting in front of the TV and not binge eating when we are upset! Other things such as regular movement, maintaining a good sleep regime and good quality food is important to building up Spleen qi, excellent digestion and ultimately our goal of weight loss.

CM is slow medicine, although you are encouraged to make an effort to move more, and eat better (because ultimately we are what we eat), weight loss won’t happen overnight, although most people will quickly notice that their digestion is improving and symptoms such as bloating can be expected to resolve quite quickly.

Most people who have weak digestion typically find themselves bloated having cravings for certain foods (particularly sugar,) they feel sluggish, have irregular bowel movements, food sensitivities, dull skin, poor immunity and low self esteem. Sugar cravings are particularly prevalent when Spleen qi is deficient and overindulgence leads to the formation of ‘damp’ or fat between the organs, which can become a catch 22 situation. However when digestion and spleen energy is improved you can expect the sugar cravings to go away.

Chinese Medicine describes the human body the same way as it does everything else in nature, so similar to a stream clogged by rubbish, it becomes swollen and stagnated and fills with algae and grime. A similar thing happens to the human landscape, damp accumulation within us (aka fat) leaves us feeling sluggish & heavy, fatigued, foggy headed and a feeling as though we cant think clearly; eventually there might be a phlegm producing cough a feeling of fullness and nausea.

So how do you start the journey of turning things around? There are several important CM ideas, which will get you started…

Eat earlier in the day, and less at night, be particularly aware of this if you are a shift worker.

Avoid everything cold room temperature drinks or warm tea and well cooked foods place the least strain on our digestive system.

Placing more importance on the ritual of eating and he classic weight loss tip of eating only until you are 80{6988025dad1f1fbb9b51e07fee2d9ed2e6922123f9d85e2f87ced971590a95a6} full, and get up and move after eating, don’t sit to too long after eating, moving qi will aid digestion.

Avoid foods the damp formers like refined sugar and deep-fried foods, but also too much raw food. Green smoothies in moderation might be good for a hot summer’s day but not so great at other times of the year. We all benefit from eating foods that are in season; so mango smoothies in winter will do nothing to help our Spleens with digestion!

Here are some ideas for healthy eating. You will notice that many of the ‘good’ foods are traditional foods unmodified by modern techniques. In general, always look for whole foods.

GOOD AVOID
Animal Fats Organic grass fed lamb & beef.

Organic chicken, duck & turkey

Organic, free range eggs.

Grain fed red meat

Battery hens & eggs.

Whole Food Fats Avocado, coconut, olives, cacao butter, dark chocolate.
Fish & Seafood (Fatty fish) wild salmon, sardines, mackerel, cod, clams, oysters, mussels, prawns, scallops, crab, calamari and octopus. Crayfish, tuna, catfish, king mackerel & swordfish.
Dairy Grass Fed, cultured butter (used cold) Ghee (for cooking), unsweetened almond, cashew or hazelnut milks. Cottage cheese, goat’s milk, full fat unhomogenized cow’s milk Kefir. Lite milk products, cow’s milk cheese, cream, regular butter & soy milk (esp. Caucasians.)
Nuts & Seeds Almonds, macadamia, walnuts, pecans, brazil, chia, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, nut & seed butters (without added sugars or trans-fats.) Peanuts
Oils Coconut oil (organic, virgin & cold pressed), Olive oil (extra-virgin, cold-pressed), Flax seed oil, avocado, walnut, pistachio & hemp oils. Safflower, soybean, corn, cottonseed, margarine, shortening & ANY spray oils!
Bread Sourdough, gluten free (for digestive issues such as bloating & cramping.) Spelt, rye. White & all processed breads.
Sugars Whole vegetables & blended fruits, organic honey, coconut sugar Agave, corn syrup, cane sugar, juiced fruits.

 

ACUPUNCTURE:

Depending on the individual diagnosis, placement points selected include a variety on your hands legs & abdomen. Fine needles are inserted below the skin and a soft electo-acupuncture charge is applied creating a mild tingling effect in the area.   Typical weight loss acupuncture course would initially be weekly for the first 4-6 weeks and then spaced out slightly longer once momentum has been reached.

Painless ear tacks can also often be used to compliment the main acupuncture treatment. The ear tacks are strategically placed in points that stimulate digestion, reduce cravings, or for extra calming effect; they are typically worn for 5-6 days and support the client between visits.

 

HERBAL MEDICINE:

Powdered herbs or liquid tinctures may be prescribed to assist with weight loss. Generally a formula consisting of 10-12 herbs will be chosen that suit the client’s body type. In addition the herbs selected are able to strengthen the spleen for better digestion, increase energy, eliminate damp & phlegm while also calming the mind.

Herbal prescriptions are tailor made to suit the individual’s constitution and certain ‘weight loss’ herbs may be contraindicated for certain individuals; for that reason the products are only available with a professional consultation. The formulas are usually available in tablet, tincture and granule (powder) form:

Tablets: Weekly cost approx: $32. Tablets are easy to take and typically don’t have a strong taste, they are very convenient however the contents are set and therefore cannot be tweaked to suit the individual.

Granules: Weekly cost approx: $26. Granules or powders are stronger in action, however some people find the taste challenging. The advantage is that your practitioner is able to fully customise the formula to suit your condition.

Tinctures: Weekly cost approx: $14. (available from early December) Easy to take, however not quite as tasteless as the tablets, the herbs have been extracted in alcohol for 30 days+ and should be taken in hot water. This is the cheapest option, however as with the pills, modification for individual circumstances is not easily achieved.

REMEMBER: ALTHOUGH ACUPUNCTURE AND HERBS ALONE MAY WORK, WITHOUT DIETARY RESTRICTIONS AND AN EFFORT TO INCLUDE MORE PHYSICAL ACTIVITY YOU MAY BE LIMITING YOUR CHANCES OF SUCCESS!

For those individuals who are committed to making a change, prepaid 6X consecutive weekly bargain packages are available including both acupuncture and herbal products; please contact us for further information.

Due to the fact that weight loss doesn’t happen overnight (sorry 🙂 6 consecutive week packages are available to assist with affordability.  The package includes weekly acupuncture sessions and herbs.  Health insurance rebates apply, meaning that the real cost is affordable at around $60 per week.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us to discuss your individual needs or any concerns you might have…

References:

Table 2 of the Acupuncture Evidence Project (McDonald J, and Janz S, 2017) retrieved from: www.acupuncture.org.au

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