A close member of my family recently went on a weight loss diet and happily dropped 25 pounds within two or three months. Suddenly encouragement changed to despair as she found that try as hard as she must, sticking close to her diet, she could hardly lose even another 5 poundss over the following two months. Discouraged, she fell off the wagon and gained back 10 pounds of what she originally lost.
So what happened? One thing is that she was going to the gym regularly, getting healthier and the fat she accumulated was being replaced by muscle, which is denser and heavier. If she had stayed on the diet longer, eventually she would have begun to lose weight again at even an even faster rate because her muscle growth due to exercise would have increased the body’s fat-burning ability.
A common mistake for many who go on a diet to lose weight is in believing that somehow if they exercise more, they burn more calories and therefore will lose weight faster. In fact, one has to burn at least 500 calories a day for a week, which comes to 3,500 calories to lose one pound of fat.
So what is the value of exercise in weight-loss dieting, given the fact that the amount of exercise one is able to do will always be limited by how fat we are?
Exercise is vitally important in losing weight, not so much for burning calories as it is for revving up Yang metabolism. This literally turns your body into a fat-burning machine.
However, the transition from fat to muscle may seem to be a no-man’s-land in terms of actually shedding of pounds.
Last time, I talked about moxibustion and its uses on the acupuncture point Stomach 36. There are several other uses and locations for moxa, which I will discuss in this and subsequent blogs. Best of all, moxa is an inexpensive treatment that can be applied at home. Following are a few more highly useful moxa points that yield profound, nearly immediate positive results.
Lower back pain
Indirect moxa applied for 10 to 20 minutes over the lower back and wherever reactive points can be located provides immediate and oftentimes long-lasting relief from pain. It is a far better treatment than the application of icepacks which stop the pain by cutting off circulation; moxa relieves pain by facilitating circulation.
The application of five stick-on moxa pellets directly on Governing Vessel 4 (Ming Men, or "Life Gate") located directly on the spine between the second and third lumbar vertebrae, supplements Yang Qi for the entire body and effectively treats lower back pain. Using indirect moxa about an inch and a half to the left and right of this point in the area of Bladder 23 on the small of the back will further add to the treatment. Of course, always try to find the sensitive trigger points as these are the most effective for treatment of acute pain.
Colds, Flu and Fevers
Moxa on the point called Governing Vessel 14 (Da Zhui or "the Great Hammer") raises the Yang immune system of the entire body and is the most effective treatment for colds, flus and fevers. It is located directly on the seventh cervical vertebra of the spine.
The value of doing moxa on this point cannot be understated. It will induce perspiration, which is the first line of treatment for all invading pathogens. Being the meeting point of all the Yang acupuncture meridians, it is indicated for all exterior conditions, protecting the body from the invasion of exterior pathogens. It prevents and treats colds, flu, fevers, clears heat, and strengthens the neck and spine. It is also used for bone issues, arthritis, spurs, scoliosis, problems with the arms and hands, epilepsy, hypertension, insomnia and nosebleed.
It seems counterintuitive that one would apply heat to treat inflammation, but with moxa it is not only the heat that is having an effect, but the stimulation of circulation and the proliferation of white and red blood cells.
Next time: Moxa for insomnia and infertility.