This week two studies on cravings captured my attention. Yesterday I blogged about one using imagery to combat cravings, but I also came across a fascinating study about the use of psychological acupuncture to curb appetite. Psychological acupuncture combines gentle tapping on acupressure points while focusing on particular thoughts and emotions. In this Australian study, scientists found that food cravings were significantly reduced after just four, two-hour sessions, and the results were maintained six months later.
I wasn't familiar with Psychological acupuncture, also known as Emotional Freedom Techniques or EFT, so I did some research. I found a published study from the Journal of Clinical Psychology about the effectiveness of EFT for overcoming phobias of small animals, like rodents. In that study, a single treatment was found to be effective. Another study, from the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, used the technique to successfully help people reduce the fear of spiders. Interesting!
I belong to a practice group of the American Dietetic Association called Dietitians in Integrative and Functional Medicine and one of the benefits of my membership is access to the Natural Standard, a comprehensive database of information on integrative medicine. When I searched for EFT there I found that it's based on the same philosophy as traditional Chinese medicine. The idea is that the human body contains a network of energy pathways through which vital energy, also known as "chi" travels. These pathways, which are also called meridians, contain specific points that act like little doorways to allow chi to flow through the body. In acupuncture, needles are inserted into these points to regulate the flow of chi, because practitioners believe that chi blockages are the root certain illness and symptoms. Instead of needles, EFT involves a technique called tapping, which uses fingertips on specific meridian points along the body. It also uses positive affirmations to address the negative emotions that interfere with the body's flow of energy.
I'm fascinated with eastern medicine, especially approaches with published studies. All three of my college degrees are science-based, emphasizing western medicine, but in both my personal and professional lives I gravitate toward a complimentary approach. Studies like this confirm my belief that we don't yet have all the answers and that it's important to approach healthy eating and weight control from a holistic perspective. But I want to hear your thoughts.
Have you ever tried acupuncture, acupressure or EFT for weight control? If so, tell us about your results. How would you feel if a nutritionist or personal trainer incorporated a technique like EFT or meditation into his or her approach? Please share your thoughts!
Image: National Cancer Institute