Treating obesity from a TCM perspective

The term ‘obesity’ describes a person who is very overweight with excessive body fat. It’s currently a major health concern, particularly in western and developed countries, and one that’s growing every year – exacerbated by our increasingly sedentary lifestyles and the availability and reliance on high-calorie convenience foods. The NHS estimates that in the UK, around 1 in 4 adults and 1 in 5 children are currently clinically obese. 

So why does it matter? Obesity can lead to a number of serious and potentially life-threatening illnesses, including type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke and some types of cancer. Obesity can also significantly affect our quality of life and even lead to psychological problems such as low self-esteem and depression – so it’s a really important issue to address.

In this blog, I look at some different causes of obesity from a Chinese medical perspective, and some effective natural treatments that can help. 

Obesity from a TCM perspective

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) characterises obesity as a disease mainly based on spleen and kidney deficiency and liver depression, with phlegm, dampness, heat and blood stagnation as typical manifestations. 

Obese patients tend to experience internal heat and specifically Damp-Heat* in the body, and since the spleen is responsible for moving and transforming dampness, the TCM approach to treating obesity will often focus on improving spleen function, and draining damp-heat pathogen

*“Hypoxia and inflammation caused by lipotoxicity exist in obesity and are key pathophysiological characteristics of “dampness-heat” syndrome in TCM. “Dampness-heat” is prevalent in chronic low-grade systemic inflammation, prone to insulin resistance (IR), and causes variant metabolic disorders. 

Some TCM dietary recommendations

Obesity is generally caused by consuming more calories than we burn off through physical activity, meaning the excess energy is stored by the body as fat. One of the most effective ways to naturally address obesity is therefore to bring more awareness to our diet.

Some basic TCM dietary recommendations for the treatment of obesity include:

  • Keeping the digestive fire strong and efficient by not over-consuming sweet, damp, greasy and fatty foods. 
  • Avoiding cooling foods such as raw salads, fruit and fish – contrary to common weight-loss advice – as they contribute to dampness in the body.  
  • Taking smaller meals more often, rather than eating heavily three times a day. 
  • Avoiding all processed and ready-made foods, as these contain high levels of sugar.
  • Avoiding the harmful combination of fat and sugar, such as found in cakes and pastries, as this acts like a mixture of flour and oil in the body: clumpy and difficult to digest.
  • Drinking good quality unfermented green or oolong tea after meals, which is known to strengthen the spleen, inhibit dampness and accelerate metabolism.

Regaining hormonal balance

It’s less commonly known that people with thyroid problems can gain weight more easily because the hormone progesterone, which kick-starts our digestive system and metabolic function, is deficient. In such cases, Chinese herbs can be prescribed to boost progesterone production in the body so that hormonal balance can be regained. 

Treating obesity with TCM

Although the most effective way to overcome obesity over the long-term is to improve dietary habits, lifestyle and actively participate in physical exercise – which will keep the body’s Qi, Blood and bodily fluids flowing effectively – Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicines offer a natural and effective way to boost metabolism, enhance spleen function and improve hormonal balance. 

If you’re struggling with your weight, I offer ready-made herbal formulas which help to speed up metabolism naturally, leading to progressive weight loss over time – without the need for pharmaceutical medications or harsh surgical interventions. Simply add a teaspoon of the powdered herbal formula to water twice a day and drink on an empty stomach.

As part of this service, you’ll receive a free 15-minute online consultation to ensure the formula’s suitability, during which you can choose to add herbs that address other health concerns associated with obesity, such as constipation.

As a fully qualified TCM practitioner and licensed member of the UK’s Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine (RCHM), my herbal formulas are safe, effective and meet the highest quality standards. 

Contact me by email at or call 07944 848 953 to book your free consultation today.