Ear acupuncture found to aid in weight loss

Close-up of acupuncture needles on an ear.Acupuncture has many known health benefits and now weight loss can be added to the list. Utilising acupuncture on five pressure points in the ear can help reduce BMI and waist circumference a recent Korean study has found.

The study was conducted on 91 adults with a BMI of 23 or more. The participants were divided into three groups for the study. One group was treated with acupuncture on 5 points of the outer ear called Shen-men (divine gate), Spleen, Stomach, Hunger and Endocrine. The acupuncture needles were inserted 2mm deep into the outer ear on one side of the body and kept in place with surgical tape for a week. After a week, the same treatment was applied to the other ear, with the process repeated over eight weeks.

A second group was treated at the Hunger point only, and the remaining group received dummy treatment in which the needles were removed immediately after they had been inserted, but the surgical tape remained in place.

All the participants were weighed and measured at the start, half-way point and end of treatment to see what impact acupuncture might have.

Twenty four of the volunteers dropped out before the 8 weeks were up, 15 of whom were in the sham treatment group, suggesting that perhaps they found it harder to regulate their desire to eat and cope with the restrictive diet, say the authors.

There were significant differences at the four week mark for the various groups:

  • Those in the 5-point treatment group saw a 6.1% drop in their body mass index (BMI)
  • Those in the 1-point treatment group had a 5.7% fall in BMI
  • There was no change in the BMI of those receiving the dummy treatment
  • Waist circumference also fell in all three groups, the largest in the 5-point treatment group.

The authors also reported that at the end of the eight weeks, measure of body fat fell only in the 5-point treatment group. This concluded that both acupuncture treatments are beneficial for reducing body weight but the 5-point treatment is better for reducing abdominal fat.

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