Traditional Chinese Medicine for Weight Loss

Traditional Chinese Medicine for Weight Loss

Millions of people are familiar with auricular acupuncture for weight loss. An acupuncturist puts studs / ear seeds  at specific locations on your outer ear (there aren’t any needles in your ear canal), and the weight “magically” falls off.

One clinical trial found that people who had a single stud at the “hunger point” in the ear lost, on average, 5.7% of their body weight in eight weeks.  People who had acupuncture at all five traditional points in the ear lost, on average, 6.1% of their body weight in eight weeks.[1] Scientists running another clinical trial of ear acupuncture for weight loss reported that all of the participants in the study lost weight in the very first week. Participants in the study lost from 0.7% to 3.0% of their weight in just seven days.[2] Also in a clinical trial of placing the studs in both ears, every participant lost weight, and lost body fat, and lost inches.[3]

Not all of us, of course, want to have acupuncture in our ears. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could get the benefits of acupuncture from a pill or an herbal tea? It turns out that you can. Traditional Chinese Medicine understands both herbs and acupuncture in terms of changes to energy flows, and either method—or both—can help you lose weight.

Yin Fat and Yang Fat

Traditional Chinese Medicine conceives of excess weight in terms of Yin and Yang, containing and moving.

Sometimes overweight is the result of a Yin condition. The body has been so worn down by stress, by disease, or by age, that it just can’t contain its energies in their proper channels. These energies materialize as “flab,” or soft fat. These people tend to be sedentary, and don’t lose weight by dieting.

Sometimes overweight it the result of a Yang condition. The body has more energy than it knows how to channel. That energy also materializes as fat, but it’s a hard fat. These are people who have lots of visceral fat coating their inner organs. They are active, but they still are overweight. These are people who usually lose weight by dieting if they can just stick to the plan.

Herbs can help, but different herbs help with the different kinds of obesity. Two formulas are so well known to work that they’re even covered by health insurance in Japan. If you choose the right formula, it might work for you , too. Let’s look at the two main options

Ledebouriella Decoction (Fang Feng Tong Sheng)  That Sagely Unblocks

Ledebouriella Decoction That Sagely Unblocks is the herbal combination Traditional Chinese Medicine knows as (防風通聖散) and Japanese herbal medicine knows as bofu-tsusho-san. This oddly named formula’s main herb is ledebouriella. It “sagely unblocks” by redirecting excessive energies without causing new health problems. The formula is used to treat obesity in people who are active, tend to overeat but not quite burn off all the calories, and who tend to get headaches, high blood pressure, and constipation. It’s meant for people who get thick abdominal fat and overall are sturdy, just overweight. Because their bodies generate a lot of heat, they tend to be sensitive to heat.  Their skin tends to remain tight even if it is poked or probed. These are people who gravitate to the air conditioner during hot weather.

Doctors in China and japan do not need proof that this formula works when it is given to the right people. However, Japanese scientists have studied how the formula works. It seems to deactivate white fat, the kind of fat that mostly stores fat, and activate brown fat, the kind of fat that burns fat to make heat. [4]

Dai-saiko-to (Da-Chai-Hu-Tang)

Dai-saiko-to (大柴胡湯) (Da-Chai-Hu-Tang)  is the Japanese adaptation of a Traditional Chinese Medicine for a very “Yang” obesity. The people who get this formula eat a lot because they work and play hard, and aren’t happy when they aren’t active.

Like bofu-tsusho-san, dai-saiko-to is a formula Chinese and Japanese doctors use with confidence when people present the symptoms that call for it. After all, it has been used successfully for 1800 years. Researchers have found that it works by modifying liver function. It limits the inflammation caused by a high-fat diet.  It also limits weight gain when the diet is high in fat.[5]

Boi-ogi-to (Fang Ji Huang Qi Tang)

Boi-ogi-to is the Japanese patent medicine version of the Traditional Chinese Medicine formula .It’s a formula for obese people who have more of a problem with cold than with heat. These are people who might have profuse sweating from the head and groin, but not the rest of the body.  Their overweight tends to be “all over,” not just belly fat. Their skin tends to dimple when it is depressed. Constipation is not a part of there symptom patterns. Women of reproductive age who have this symptom pattern usually have irregular periods. People for whom this formula is a good fit tend to be “couch potatoes,” often because they have swelling and joint pain.

Scientists have ascertained that boi-ogi-to may prevent the progression of metabolic syndrome and obesity to type 2 diabetes.[6] It also prevents the destruction of joints by a laboratory model of arthritis.[7]

Can These Formulas Help You?

Chinese herbal formulas for treating obesity in patent medicine form are most widely available as under their Japanese trade names, even though they are made in China. It doesn’t hurt to get a quick confirmation from a knowledgeable dispensing herbalist that you are using the formula most likely to match your symptom pattern. But as long as you don’t have hepatitis B—which is a contraindication for sai-saiko-to—these formulas are safe to use as directed and give you just a little added help in losing weight.

 

[1] Yeo S, Kim KS, Lim S. Randomised clinical trial of five ear acupuncture points for the treatment of overweight people. Acupunct Med. 2014 Apr;32(2):132-8. doi: 10.1136/acupmed-2013-010435. Epub 2013 Dec 16.

PMID: 24342715.

[2] Ito H, Yamada O, Kira Y, Tanaka T, Matsuoka R.  BMJ Open Gastroenterol. 2015 Feb 9;2(1):e000013. doi: 10.1136/bmjgast-2014-000013. eCollection 2015. PMID: 26462269.

[3] Shiraishi T, Onoe M, Kojima TA, Kageyama T, Sawatsugawa S, Sakurai K, Yoshimatsu H, Sakata T. Effects of bilateral auricular acupuncture stimulation on body weight in healthy volunteers and mildly obese patients.

Exp Biol Med (Maywood). 2003 Nov;228(10):1201-7. PMID: 14610261.

[4] Satomi Akagiri, Yuji Naito, Hiroshi Ichikawa, Katsura Mizushima, Tomohisa Takagi, Osamu Handa, Satoshi Kokura, Toshikazu Yoshikawa Bofutsushosan, an Oriental Herbal Medicine, Attenuates the Weight Gain of White Adipose Tissue and the Increased Size of Adipocytes Associated with the Increase in Their Expression of Uncoupling Protein 1 in High-Fat Diet-Fed Male KK/Ta miceJ Clin Biochem Nutr. 2008 Mar; 42(2): 158–166. Published online 2008 Mar 1. doi: 10.3164/jcbn.2008023 PMCID: PMC2266052.

[5] Weibin Qian, Xinrui Cai, Xinying Zhang, Yingying Wang, Qiuhai Qian, Junichi Hasegawa. Effect of Daisaikoto on Expressions of SIRT1 and NF-kappaB of Diabetic Fatty Liver Rats Induced by High-Fat Diet and Streptozotocin

Yonago Acta Med. 2016 Jun; 59(2): 149–158. Published online 2016 Jun 29. PMCID: PMC4973021.

[6] Tsutomu Shimada, Tomoko Akase, Mitsutaka Kosugi, Masaki Aburada. Preventive Effect of Boiogito on Metabolic Disorders in the TSOD Mouse, a Model of Spontaneous Obese Type II Diabetes Mellitus.  Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011; 2011: 931073. Published online 2011 Jun 5. doi: 10.1093/ecam/nep012

PMC3139392.

[7] Xinwen Zhang, Zhou Wu, Yicong Liu, Junjun Ni, Chunfu Deng, Baohong Zhao, Hiroshi Nakanishi, Jing He, Xu Yan. Boi-ogi-to (TJ-20), a Kampo Formula, Suppresses the Inflammatory Bone Destruction and the Expression of Cytokines in the Synovia of Ankle Joints of Adjuvant Arthritic Rats.Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2017; 2017: 3679295. Published online 2017 May 7. doi: 10.1155/2017/3679295. PMCID: PMC5438844.

 

DISCLAIMER

Any new diet change should be consulted with medical practitioner 

The information and reference materials contained here are intended solely for the general information of the reader. It is not to be used for treatment purposes, but rather for discussion with the patient’s own physician. The information presented here is not intended to diagnose health problems or to take the place of professional medical care.

Thanks and graduate for reading this blog if you would like to discuss your individual needs, please feel free to email info@roddsanchez.com.au or 02 8213 2888. 

Rodd Sanchez Sydney acupuncture and Chinese medicine