A new study revealed that acupuncture may help people lose weight without undergoing dietary changes or exercise routines. As part of the study, a team of researchers at the Hong Kong Baptist University conducted acupuncture trials on 13 males and 59 females between the ages of 18 and 68 who were observed from September 2015 to October 2016. The participants, who had a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or above, did not undergo any weight loss measures or took medications three months before the trial.
The participants were then assigned to either the real acupuncture group or the sham acupuncture group. Each participants had 16 acupuncture sessions over an eight-week period. The acupuncture points targeted in the study covered the abdomen, the lower limbs and the ears. According to the researchers, these points may help regulate energy flow in the intestines, transform body fluid, and eliminate phlegm.
The study revealed that participants in the real acupuncture group attained an average weight loss of 2.47 kilograms, and an average BMI decline of 1.56 kilograms per square meter. One case in particular showed a record weight loss of 7.2 kg and a marked BMI decrease of 3.2 kg/m2. In contrast, participants in the sham acupuncture group had an average weight loss of only 0.54 kg, and an average BMI decrease of only 0.19 kg/m2.
Dr. Zhong Lidan, an assistant professor at Hong Kong Baptist University, noted that the significant weight loss was due in part to acupuncture’s stimulating effect on the body’s appetite-suppressing hormones. He said the procedure activates the production of the hormones serotonin and beta endorphins, which in turn suppress appetite and promote fat breakdown.
The recent study’s results were reflective of a 2013 research demonstrating that ear acupuncture may help induce weight loss. To carry out the research, a team of scientists at Kyung Hee University in Seoul, South Korea randomly assigned 91 overweight individuals to three groups: five-point acupuncture, one-point acupuncture, and sham group. (Related: Acupuncture and its Slow Acceptance in Mainstream Science Circles).
By the end of the study, participants in the five-point acupuncture group exhibited a 6.1 percent weight loss. The study also revealed that those in the one-point acupuncture group displayed a 5.7 percent weight loss. In contrast, participants in the sham treatment group did not show significant weight loss.
Ear acupuncture points are commonly used as a part of weight management acupuncture treatment program. The ear acupuncture points, such as Shen Men, Hunger, and Stomach points, as shown on the image below, can be helpful to suppress appetite and control certain cravings. Those and other ear points are also used during smoking cessation, drug abuse, alcohol addiction, and other detoxification therapy programs.
There are more than 200 points in the ear. It is important to find the most responsive points. The use of an electrodermal response device is recommended in order to locate the exact location of the point.
In some comprehensive weight control and body shaping programs, acupuncture points on abdomen and other parts of the body are also used to improve digestion, assist liver function, encourage urinary flow, and address hormonal imbalances.