Study suggests ear acupuncture could boost weight loss
Acupuncture has been used as a natural healing treatment for centuries. Now, a study from Korea suggests that acupuncture in the ear may actually help obese people lose weight.
The study, published in the Acupuncture in Medicine, used the Korean five-point acupuncture treatment, but singled out one point for stimulation in a randomized controlled clinical trial. The trial comprised 91 Koreans with a body mass index (BMI) of 23 or higher. The group included 16 men and 75 women, and no one tried a weight-loss treatment of any sort within the last six months.
Participants were randomly sorted into three groups: one group to receive the five-point acupuncture, one group to receive the one-point acupuncture, and one group to act as the control by receiving a “sham” treatment.
The five points targeted in the ear for the first group were points associated with the stomach, spleen, hunger, endocrine, and Shen-men. The needles were covered with tape to stay in place for a week. The second group had the same treatment, except only one needle was used--in the "hunger point" in the ear. The last group had the needles removed immediately from the five points, but tape covered their ears to fool them into thinking the needles stayed. The same doctor was used for all three group treatments. During the trial, participants followed a diet and refrained from exercise.
Researchers recorded BMI, waist circumference, body fat mass and percentage, and blood pressure at the beginning, end and middle of the trial.
Some people dropped out of the trial – 24 in total, with 15 from the control group. However, of the remaining participants, the five-point acupuncture group showed a 6.1 percent drop in BMI. The one-point acupuncture group showed a 5.7 percent drop. The control group showed no drop in BMI. Both acupuncture groups also lost weight. Additionally, the five-point group also showed a drop in body fat. However, there were no changes in blood pressure in any of the groups.
While the acupuncture appears to have helped with weight loss in the short term, there is no evidence on how these treatments would help with long-term weight loss. More research is needed on the relationship between acupuncture and weight loss to determine if there is a solid connection between the two.