In Western medicine, being overweight is viewed as a result of overeating and inadequate exercise. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, these two factors are also considered but, in addition to them, a person’s bodily constitution and mental condition are regarded as contributing factors to obesity.
TCM does not address excess weight alone but deals with the possible body condition that leads to being overweight. TCM practitioners believe that if there is internal balance, the body’s metabolism should function properly provided that there is balance between food consumption and physical activity.
In particular, TCM believes that fatty tissues are mainly caused by phlegm and dampness pathogens. The spleen is the main organ that corresponds to obesity because it produces phlegm and transports body fluids. Eating too many sweets and not getting adequate exercise damages the spleen, weakening its metabolic function. When wastes are not properly disposed from the body, they become dampness evils that eventually form into phlegm and become fat.
The approach to TCM weight loss treatment will depend on the individual’s body constitution. While there is no single remedy in TCM to promote weight loss, every therapeutic method follows certain guidelines. For instance, one TCM principle for weight loss is to restore harmony in the stomach to help it digest fatty substances. Blood flow must also be activated to lower the blood’s fat or lipid content.
Eliminating phlegm evils from the lungs is also important as well as removing any stagnation in the liver or gallbladder, which aids metabolism. Bowel movement and urine excretion must also be induced to eliminate excess dampness in the body that contributes to being overweight.
The most common modalities used to facilitate weight loss are herbal formulations and nutrition therapy. However, various other TCM techniques which TCM practitioners have used and refined over the centuries may also be used individually or in combination, such as such as acupuncture, massage and Qi-Gong as well lifestyle counseling.
It is important to keep in mind, however, that weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight is only possible with adequate exercise and proper diet. This point is held in both Western and Traditional Chinese Medicine. The advantage of TCM is its holistic approach on the body, providing the answer to maintaining a healthy weight for good.