Ear Acupuncture for Weight Loss

A recent study published in the BMJ journal Acupuncture in Medicine suggests that continuous stimulation of acupressure points on the outer ear can help lower BMI, burn fat, and shed unwanted pounds. Ear acupuncture for weight loss has been practiced for centuries, but this latest study zeroes in on the most effective way to stimulate weight loss.

iStock_ear mapAuricular Acupuncture Therapy

Ear acupuncture originates from Traditional Chinese Medicine, where it’s used as a treatment for addiction, mood disorders, pain, obesity, and other conditions. It’s based on the idea that points on the outer ear correspond to specific organs and systems within the body. In 1956, Dr. Paul Nogier mapped the acupuncture points on the ear after discovering that a patient’s back pain was cured after sustaining a burn to her ear. Both acupuncturists and acupressure practitioners use this modern system of auriculotherapy, which involves stimulating specific points on the ear to heal a variety of different ailments.

Ear Acupuncture for Weight Loss

Korean researchers compared the weight loss effects of continuous stimulation of five points on the ear to continuous stimulation of just one point. They included a “sham” treatment as a control group. The study separated 91 overweight adults (with a BMI of 23 or more) into three groups:

  • 31 people received the five-point treatment. Researchers inserted acupuncture needles 2 mm deep into five points: the shen-men, spleen, stomach, hunger, and endocrine points. The needles were kept in place with surgical tape for a week. The following week the process was repeated on the other ear…and so on for eight weeks.
  • 30 people received the one-point treatment. Researchers inserted an acupuncture needle in the hunger point only. The needle was kept in place until the next week, when treatment shifted to the other ear…and so on for eight weeks.
  • 30 people received “sham” treatment. Researchers immediately removed the needles upon insertion, but participants were led to believe that the needles remained under the surgical tape.

Each of the participants was instructed to eat a restrictive diet, though not a weight loss diet by any means, and not add any extra exercise during the eight-week treatment.

Twenty-four people dropped out of the study. Fifteen of these individuals were from the control group, indicating that perhaps it was more difficult to manage cravings and cope with the restrictive diet without the help of ear acupuncture.

BMI, weight, waist circumference, body fat, and blood pressure were measured at the beginning, middle, and end of the study. After just four weeks those undergoing five-point treatment showed a 6.1% reduction in BMI, while those receiving one-point treatment experienced a reduction of 5.7%. Those in the sham group showed no reduction in BMI, body fat, or weight. Waist circumference and body fat decreased the most among individuals in the five-point group. Blood pressure remained consistent in each of the groups.

The researchers conclude:

“Both five-needle acupuncture treatment generally used in Korean clinics and one-needle treatment at the hunger point appear to be effective in reducing body weight in the short term.”

When combined with a weight loss diet and exercise program, ear acupuncture for weight loss holds remarkable promise. To discover more about ear acupuncture and how to heal yourself naturally with a gentle touch of your fingertips, click here.