How Do Acupuncture Treatments Impact Metabolism?

Acupuncture is an ancient healing technique that has been practiced for thousands of years in China and other Eastern countries. It involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body to stimulate energy flow, promote healing, and restore balance. While acupuncture is well-known for its ability to alleviate pain and treat various medical conditions, its impact on metabolism is less understood. In recent years, however, researchers have started to uncover the fascinating ways in which acupuncture treatments can affect our body’s metabolic processes.

The Basics of Metabolism

Before diving into how acupuncture influences metabolism, it is essential to have a basic understanding of what metabolism is. Metabolism refers to the chemical processes that occur within our body to convert food into energy. It involves two primary components: anabolism and catabolism. Anabolism refers to the building of complex molecules from simpler ones, while catabolism involves breaking down more complex molecules into smaller, usable units.

An Acupuncture Perspective

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the concept of Qi (pronounced “chee”) is central to understanding health and disease. Qi is the vital life energy that flows through meridians – pathways in the body that correspond to various organs and systems. According to TCM principles, any disruption or imbalance in the flow of Qi can lead to health problems. This is where acupuncture comes into play.

By inserting needles into specific acupuncture points, an acupuncturist aims to restore the flow of Qi and rebalance the body’s energy. When it comes to metabolism, acupuncture treatments can target specific points known to influence digestion, nutrient absorption, and energy expenditure.

Promoting Digestion and Nutrient Absorption

Acupuncture can help optimize digestion and enhance nutrient absorption, contributing to a healthier metabolic system. By stimulating specific acupuncture points, practitioners aim to improve the function of organs involved in the digestive process, such as the stomach, spleen, and intestines. This stimulation may help increase digestive enzyme production, regulate stomach acid secretion, and improve overall digestive function.

Additionally, certain acupuncture points are believed to influence the absorption of nutrients in the intestines. By activating these points, acupuncture may enhance nutrient absorption, ensuring that the body receives the necessary fuel for optimal metabolic performance.

Balancing Hormones

Hormones play a vital role in regulating metabolism. Imbalances in hormone levels, such as insulin, cortisol, and thyroid hormones, can have a significant impact on metabolic processes. Acupuncture can help address hormone imbalances by stimulating specific points associated with hormone regulation.

For example, studies have shown that acupuncture can help regulate insulin levels and improve insulin sensitivity in individuals with insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes. By influencing the endocrine system, acupuncture treatments may also help manage cortisol levels and reduce stress-related hormonal imbalances that can negatively impact metabolism.

Increasing Energy Expenditure

One of the essential aspects of a healthy metabolism is energy expenditure – the number of calories burned by the body at rest and during physical activity. Acupuncture treatments can indirectly influence energy expenditure by targeting points that regulate appetite, cravings, and overall energy balance.

Acupuncture has been found to have an appetite-suppressing effect in some individuals. By stimulating points associated with hunger and satiety, acupuncture treatments may help regulate food intake and curb cravings, contributing to a healthier and more balanced energy intake. Additionally, acupuncture can also promote relaxation and stress reduction, which can have a positive impact on energy expenditure and overall metabolic function.


While the exact mechanisms through which acupuncture impacts metabolism are still being explored, the evidence suggests that it can have a beneficial effect on various metabolic processes. By promoting digestion and nutrient absorption, balancing hormones, and influencing energy expenditure, acupuncture treatments can contribute to a healthier and more efficient metabolism. As always, it is essential to consult with a qualified acupuncturist or healthcare provider to determine the best approach for your individual needs.