Friday, November 25, 2011

Belly Piercings

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If you are anything like me, and probably most of the world's population, you are always looking for the allusive "flat abs".

A while back Roy told me that Charles Poliquin did studies that indicate belly piercings make your belly fat. Swollen, inflamed, puffy. I laughed and told him that was silly, I have had mine for years. 

Well a couple weeks ago I read the article, and it was enough to convince me to give it a try. I do believe that my body is very sensitive to foods so why wouldn't it be to a piece of metal rammed into it?

Here is the article, my belly looks better, really, its been about two weeks and I honestly think it looks better. I will keep you posted with an update in a couple weeks.

From Charles Poliquin website:

Don’t get pierced! Body piercings can raise cortisol levels and lead to fat gain, and no site is as susceptible to fat gain as your abs! If you have a navel piercing, remove it and chances are you’ll lose fat in the abdominal area. I’ve seen it numerous times, and anyone who has been to my Biosignature classes has probably had the benefit of witnessing the dramatic drop in belly and total body fat over just five days when attendees remove their navel piercings. 

“You Can See Their Abs”
At a recent Biosignature course in Toronto, four women with navel piercings had their body fat taken on the first day of the course. I suggested they remove their jewelry because they would likely drop fat not only in the umbilical area, but all over the body. The women removed them, and on the last day of the course, we took their body fat measurements again.  As one amazed attendee said loudly, “You can see their abs. Check out that definition!” 

The fat just fell away during those five days—two women decreased their umbilical measurement by 36 percent, while the other two lost 24 and 21 percent. Other body fat sites also dropped remarkably, particularly those that are very susceptible to elevated cortisol, such as the suprailiac. 

Body Piercings Mess with Hormone Levels 
Body piercings alter hormone levels, and increase toxicity in the body. In simple terms, having metal permanently inserted into the body over stimulates the pierced area, resulting in increased stress hormone production. The body pumps out cortisol and fatigues the adrenals in response to the piercing, leading to fat gain and an all-around unhealthy state. In addition to raising hormones like cortisol, a piercing may overstress the immune system and other organs—it won’t kill you right away, but it will keep you from reaping the benefits of training, decrease energy levels, can impede reproduction, and may result in poorer health. Plus, because piercings alter the body’s homeostasis, they make it harder for your body to detoxify and having metal inserted into the body for long periods has been shown to increase toxicity.

Certain piercing sites on the body such as navel piercings are particularly stressful on your system because they directly disrupt the body’s energy flow. The navel is the center of the body’s central meridian in Chinese medicine, and in acupuncture, it is forbidden to put a needle in the navel because doing so would impede energy flow. By piercing the navel or other key energy sites on the body, you are directly impeding the life-force energies that keep you healthy, lean, and energized.

Body Piercings Impede Energy Flow and Alter Endocrine System
According to Chinese medicine, to be healthy you need a lot of flowing energy and it needs to be balanced and unhindered. And even though the principles of Chinese medicine don’t speak directly to a balanced endocrine system, they do focus on getting your organs to function optimally. By supporting organ and gland function, acupuncture also supports hormone function, which in turn influences all body processes, including sleep, hunger, fat gain and loss, muscle development, and sex drive.

In acupuncture, it is discouraged to pierce most parts of the body, with the lower earlobe where conventional ear piercing occurs being one of the safest, most accepted areas because the earlobe is a low energy site. Acupuncture and related practices, such as acupressure, focus on small skin areas that are considered energy vortexes, which have been shown to have significantly less electrical resistance than other parts on the body. The high-energy sites along the main meridians such as the tongue (the meridian for the central nervous system), and the navel are always avoided in acupuncture. Rather, the energy flow of the body is managed by inserting a needle into the low energy areas to rebalance the body. And even though the Chinese framed acupuncture around realigning “energy,” research shows that acupuncture also supports endocrine balance. 

Acupuncture Improves Physical Performance 
There’s a wealth of research into how acupuncture improves health, and it can even improve performance and support recovery from injury. In fact, one study of animals showed that muscle that has lost its nerve supply can be regenerated with acupuncture. It has also been shown to improve strength and endurance performance, and may decrease the pain associated with delayed onset muscle soreness. 

A review published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that of 15 studies, all but two showed improved muscular strength after acupuncture. The only two that did not were assessing the immediate effectiveness of acupuncture using one session. In the case of endurance activity, acupuncture can improve heart rate and blood pressure response, but this modification hasn’t shown to translate into better performance. One possible reason why results have not supported acupuncture for endurance training is that Chinese medicine traditionally deals with individuals, not groups of athletes, and is accordingly varied based on particular pathologies of each individual. 

Acupuncture Improves Hormone Response to Exercise
Nonetheless, acupuncture has been shown to improve endocrine response and physical state in athletes after important competitions. For example, a study in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found that giving elite female soccer players acupuncture after games led to lower cortisol and less muscle fatigue. Players were also in a better mood after acupuncture.  Another study in Acupuncture Medicine found that acupuncture can support the immune system and inhibit the natural decrease in the hormone immunogolobin A that occurs with intense exercise.  

Aside from physical performance enhancements, research shows that acupuncture can support reproductive function in men and women, and is particularly effective in treating polycystic ovary syndrome in women. It’s been shown to decrease anxiety, support the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis, and help with weight loss. All of these surprising results are linked to the manipulation of energy flow in the body that leads to positive alterations in hormone levels. 

I’ve demonstrated that acupuncture and manipulation of the body’s energy flow can positively support endocrine response and improve health and performance. Conversely, if you impede the energy flow by inserting foreign objects into the body, the opposite effect will occur: health problems, poor performance, and unfavorable endocrine response. This negative effect is not exclusively associated with body piercings—rather, any overstimulation of the high energy zones on the body will cause problems.

Navel Piercings and Chinese Medicine
The navel is right at the middle of one of the central meridians of the body, called the Conception Vessel in Chinese Medicine. It runs from the bottom of the throat down the body through the navel to the pelvis. Having a belly piercing is similar to having a needle permanently inserted into the forbidden central point of a primary energy line. Navel rings cause a chronic energy imbalance and aggravate the body, leading to greater cortisol production as your system tries to defend itself from the foreign object. In fact, there are instances in which the body will reject a piercing and literally push it out, indicating that it is just too much to handle.

According to traditional wisdom, it isn’t that all piercings should be avoided. Rather, piercings wrongly placed can negatively affect emotional and physical health, and a belly button ring is one of the worst locations you could choose. Humans have pierced themselves for over 5,000 years, and in some cultures piercings are used to cure medical problems and support emotional states. Nose piercing in Indian women is probably one of the most commonly known traditional piercings aside from ears. It is customary for Hindu women of reproductive age to wear a nose stud in the left nostril to support reproductive health according to the principles of Ayurvedic medicine.  

Improperly placed piercings impede health and optimal body composition just as properly placed piercings may support health. Research into health benefits of piercings is lacking, but there is significant support for acupuncture to treat obesity. A new study in the Chinese journal Zhongguo Zhen Jiu found that acupotomy, a new variation of acupuncture, was highly effective at decreasing fat in a group of overweight subjects. Acupotomy had a 91 percent success rate, while electroacupuncture that electrically stimulates acupuncture sites was 71 percent effective, and regular acupuncture was 43 percent effective at significantly decreasing body fat. 

A review of previous studies into the effectiveness of acupuncture for weight loss in the Journal for Traditional Chinese Medicine found that by performing acupuncture to the ear (the most common kind) and to the whole body, treatments were highly successful and produced a 93 percent success rate of inducing weight loss and balancing energy in the body. Ear acupuncture alone was effective only 50 percent of the time, while whole body acupuncture without the ear produced an 81 percent success rate.

A third study published in the Journal of Women’s Health showed that acupuncture can lead to a much more favorable endocrine profile for optimal body composition. This study looked at the effect of six weeks of ear acupuncture on body weight and waist circumference. The women in the study did not significantly lose weight, but they did have a substantial increase in ghrelin, which is a growth hormone that supports metabolism and can decrease hunger. Leptin, a hormone that is a product of fat tissue and is related to obesity, decreased. Elevated ghrelin and lower leptin is a much more preferable hormone balance that would likely support reduction in body fat over a greater period of time. Additionally, this evidence highlights how the placement of needles or foreign objects in the body can modify hormones, in this case favorably. Naturally, researchers and Chinese medicine practitioners aren’t going to test the effect of improperly placing a needle into a site such as the navel because it is “forbidden” and would be unethical. 

More Reasons to Remove Your Piercings
There are a number of research reviews documenting the health problems caused by body piercings. Serious infection that requires antibiotics is the most common complication of piercings. Navel and “high” ear piercings that are above the bottom earlobe have very high rates of serious infection and inflammation. Navel piercings are commonly rejected by the body, probably because this is such a key energy site on the body and because it is so close to the essential internal organs. Other complications include swelling and tooth fracture from tongue piercing, and keloid formation in the upper ear. More serious health problems include navel piercings leading to intestinal adhesions and ovarian cancer, both of which required surgery. Additionally, eyebrow and lip piercings have become infected, inflamed, and caused damage to the eye along with extreme swelling of the cheek and face! And there have been instances of diseases, including hepatitis and HIV, being passed through unsterilized piercing needles or jewelry

Three Takeaways
1)    Remove navel piercings and you will lose abdominal and total body fat. Fat loss will likely be dramatic and you’ll be able to see your abs, have better balanced hormones, and feel better. 
2)    Consider acupuncture to improve performance, health, and offset energy and endocrine imbalances. In Poliquin Instant Muscle Strengthening Technique (P.I.M.S.T.) courses, learn the points that when stimulated briefly improve maximal strength, speed, and range of motion.
3)    Be balanced. Ideally, you’ll remove all foreign objects from your body, but think of it as everything in balance. Don’t worry about your pierced ears if you’re chowing down on carbs, gluten, and skipping your workouts. Be smart. Be balanced. Think for yourself.

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Bone, A., Ncube, F., et al. Body Piercing in England: A Survey of Piercing at Sites other than Earlobe. British Medical Journal. October 2011. Published Ahead of Print. 

Chen, M., Shi, X., et al. Clinical Observation on Acupotomy for Treatment of Simple Obesity. Zhongguo Zhen Jiu. June 2011. 31(6), 539-542. 

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Antoszewski, B., Szychta, P., et al. Are WE Aware of All Complications Following Body Piercing Procedures. International Journal of Dermatology. April 2009. 48(4), 422-425. 

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