Laser acupuncture helps metabolic syndromes patients lose weight, achieving reductions in hip and waist circumferences. This type of needle-free acupuncture also reduces cholesterol and insulin levels. These results were documented in a study of obese post-menopausal women with metabolic syndrome. Laser acupuncture and control groups were randomly divided to avoid bias and the results were confirmed with objective measurements: anthropometric, fasting blood glucose and insulin levels, homeostatic insulin resistance, lipid profile.
Laser acupuncture evolved from the study of photobiology, how light affects living beings. Low level lasers, known as cold lasers, are used for this type of acupuncture in most applications. Cold lasers are used in 635 nM red, 450 nM blue and 532 nM green laser acupuncture. They do not produce heat and do not burn the skin. The use of 700-1000 nM heat producing infrared lasers may also be employed but are less common.
This latest research demonstrates that laser acupuncture significantly enhances the therapeutic value of diet and exercise interventions for obese post-menopausal women with metabolic syndrome. Weight loss is very difficult with metabolic syndrome because the insulin-glucagon pathway does not function properly. Laser acupuncture helps to correct this imbalance and facilitates weight loss.
Metabolic syndrome is a group of risk factors. Central obesity, excess body fat on the upper and middle parts of the body, is one of the primary symptoms. Insulin resistance is also present and results in increased blood sugar and fat levels. High cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure are indicators of metabolic syndrome. This disorder may lead to excessive blood clotting, systemic inflammation, diabetes, stroke, heart and kidney disease, and poor blood circulation in the legs. Conventional therapeutic approaches include pharmaceutical drugs, dietary modifications and exercise programs.
The research team notes that needle acupuncture is effective in reducing BMI and abdominal fat by decreasing abdominal visceral adipose tissue. This new clinical investigation was designed to measure the effects of laser acupuncture on lipid metabolism and insulin-glucose homeostasis. The diet and exercise programs for the control group and the laser acupuncture group were identical, anthropometric measurements were taken by a therapist that was blinded to group assignments and patients were randomly divided into each group. Anthropometrics included measurements of hip and waist circumference. Biochemical analyses were based on blood samples and included measurements of glucose, insulin, HDL and LDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels.
The dietary modifications included caloric restriction to daily energy intake of 1000 kcal/day. Carbohydrates were set to 55%, protein was set to 15% and fat was set to 30% of total dietary intake (55:15:30). An interesting choice of percentages, this differs from the popular Zone diet that uses a ratio of 40:30:30 for carbohydrates, protein and fat respectively.
The training program used a treadmill for exercise at a rate of 3 times per week for 12 weeks. Warm-ups were performed for 5 minutes at a 0% grade at a velocity of 4-5 km/h. Next, there was a thirty minute period of increased activity using heart rate controls, monitored by a Polar heart rate monitor. Heart rate monitors and other fitness devices are becoming more accessible including introductions by Samsung and now Apple, thought to be released under the name iWatch. Many heart rate monitors allow for calculations of heart rates, heart rate variability, heart resting rate and related measurements. Treadmill velocity and incline were adjusted to maintain a target heart rate based on the Karvonen equation.
The laser acupuncture group received gallium Arsenide infrared laser stimulation at 904 nM at 5 mW, 5000 Hz, with a 200 ns pulse. The acupuncture point selections were based on Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) principles. TCM theory notes that obesity is related to spleen and kidney deficiency combined with stomach heat and qi stagnation. As a result, the following acupuncture points were selected that addressed these concerns: CV4 (Guanyuan), CV9 (Shuifen), CV12 (Zhongwan), ST25 (Tianshu), ST36 (Zusanli), SP6 (Sanyinjiao), ST40 (Fenglong). Laser acupuncture was applied to these acupuncture points at a rate of 3 times per week for 12 weeks. Each point was vertically stimulated with the laser for a period of 2 minutes.
The researchers measured important changes in a comparison of the control group with the laser acupuncture treatment group, “The percentages of changes in the control group versus acupuncture group were as follows: 9.53 vs 10.95% for BW (body weight); 9.52 vs 10.94% for BMI; 8.94 vs 13.41% for waist circumference; 9.21 vs 12.73% for hip circumference; 0.001 vs 1.05% for waist hip ratio; 7.08 vs 9.54% for fasting blood glucose; 16.65 vs 30.08% for fasting blood insulin; 23.51 vs 32.1% for HOMA-IR; 8.68 vs 11.56% for TC (total cholesterol); 2.38 vs 3.54% for HDL-C (HDL cholesterol); 6.41 vs 9.33% for LDL-C (LDL cholesterol); 21.64 vs 24.62% for TG (triglycerides).” Cholesterol results were important. Total cholesterol reduced in the laser acupuncture group, harmful LDL decreased and helpful HDL cholesterol increased. This demonstrates a homeostatic therapeutic action of laser acupuncture on cholesterol levels. In related research, investigators conducted a “double-blind, randomized, and controlled trial was conducted in patients with chronic myofascial pain syndrome (MPS) in the neck to evaluate the effects of infrared low level 904 nm Gallium-Arsenide (Ga-As) laser therapy (LLLT) on clinical and quality of life (QoL).” The concluded , “This study revealed that short-period application of LLLT is effective in pain relief and in the improvement of functional ability and QoL in patients with MPS.”
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)
TCM encompasses the five branches of traditional medicine: acupuncture, herbs, Qi Gong meditation and movement exercises, tui-na massage and bone medicine, and dietetics. As a result, acupuncture continuing education is not limited to the study of acupuncture points but also extends to other areas including diet and exercise.
Metabolic syndrome patients benefit from acupuncture therapy but requires dietary modifications for effective positive patient outcomes. Take a look at the dietetics courses at HealthCMi.com to learn more about Chinese medicine dietetics for weight loss. A special focus on this topic is given in an upcoming course entitled Chinese Medicine Dietetic Remedies. This acupuncture continuing education course will be available online, expected for release in October, and a text with the same title will be available on Amazon.com in early September. Important recipes for the treatment of obesity, heart disease, headaches, diabetes and more are featured in Chinese Medicine Dietetic Remedies. Currently, there are several other dietetics courses available at HealthCMi.com and the book Chinese Medicine Dietetics #1 is available at Amazon.
El-Mekawy, Hanan S., Abeer M. ElDeeb, and Hassan O. Ghreib. "Effect of laser acupuncture combined with a diet-exercise intervention on metabolic syndrome in post-menopausal women." Journal of Advanced Research (2014).
H. Zhang, Y. Peng, Z. Liu, S. Li, Z. Lv, L. Tian, et al. Effects of acupuncture therapy on abdominal fat and hepatic fat content in obese children: a magnetic resonance imaging and proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy study, J Altern Complement Med, 17 (5) (2011), pp. 413–420.
Gur, Ali, Aysegul Jale Sarac, Remzi Cevik, Ozlem Altindag, and Serdar Sarac. "Efficacy of 904 nm gallium arsenide low level laser therapy in the management of chronic myofascial pain in the neck: A double‐blind and randomize‐controlled trial." Lasers in surgery and medicine 35, no. 3 (2004): 229-235.