New Study Reveals That Needle-Free Acupuncture Could Help You Lose Weight

Young Man Weight Loss Before After Concept

A new study suggests that ear acupuncture using metal beads can aid weight loss when combined with a restricted diet. The beads, which stimulate nerves and organs regulating appetite, were found to significantly reduce participants’ waist circumference, body fat, and BMI over three months.

A recent study discovered that 6-point stimulation of the outer ear with simple metal beads helped reduce waist circumference, body fat, and BMI in men living with obesity.

According to recent research presented at the European Congress on Obesity (ECO) in Dublin, Ireland (17-20 May), ear acupuncture using metal beads, when paired with a restricted diet, can assist in weight loss, lowering body mass index (BMI), and reducing body fat. The research was conducted by Dr. Takahiro Fujimoto and his team from Clinic F, Tokyo, Japan.

The findings propose that acupuncture stimulation with beads is an easier approach to control food cravings compared to the traditional use of intradermal needles, which typically necessitate the skills of a professional acupuncturist.

“Since these tiny metal beads are attached to six points on the outer ear that stimulate nerves and organs which regulate appetite, satiety, and hunger, this type of acupuncture does not require complex knowledge or skill,” explains Dr Fujimoto. “In Japan, this method to aid weight loss has been used for over 30 years.”

In traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture is based on the understanding that your health depends on the flow of qi (energy) in your body.

This energy travels along invisible pathways, known as meridians, that are found throughout your body, including your ears. A blocked or disrupted flow of qi can have a negative effect on your physical and mental health.

Auricular (ear) acupuncture therapy is based on the theory that the outer ear represents all parts of the body. Thin needles or beads are placed on certain points, usually along meridian lines, to restore the flow of qi by resolving any blockages or disruption and may help with a variety of health conditions.

The approach has been used to treat drug addiction and to help people give up smoking and lose weight.

While the mechanism is unclear, studies suggest that ear acupuncture may help to regulate the endocrine system, modulate metabolism, promote digestion, and lessen oxidative stress.

This new study builds on previous research in Japanese women with overweight or obesity which found that those treated with ear acupuncture with beads lost significantly more weight than those who were untreated, and this weight loss was maintained for 6 months after the end of treatment.

The new study of 81 overweight or obese Japanese men (aged 21 to 78; average BMI 28.4 kg/m²) with high levels of unhealthy abdominal fat assessed auricular acupuncture with 1.5 mm metal ear beads on six points of the outer ear—shen-men, food pipe, upper stomach opening, stomach, lungs, and endocrine system (see figure 1 in notes to editors).

The beads were placed on both ears and kept in place using surgical tape to ensure the participants were continuously receiving uniform pressure on each of the six acupuncture points. The beads were replaced twice a week during hospital visits. At the same time, participants were given guidance on diet, and body weight was measured.

Participants were asked to reduce their total food intake by half during the 3 months of their treatment and kept food diaries.

All participants were weighed and measured at the start and end of treatment, including body weight, body fat percentage, fat mass, lean mass, muscle mass, BMI, and abdominal fat to see what impact auricular acupuncture with beads may have.

The study found substantial differences after 3 months, with participants losing on average 10.4cm off their waist circumference (from an average 98.4cm at the start of the study to 88cm) and 4% of total body fat (from average 28.2% to 24.3%).

Measures of unhealthy abdominal body fat also fell by on average 2 points (from 15.2 at the start of the study to 13 after 3 months—evaluated on a scale of 1 to 59; with a healthy visceral fat rating between 1 and 12, and excessive levels between 13 and 59), and BMI decreased by almost 3 points (average BMI 28.4kg/m² to 25.5 kg/m²)

“Our findings suggest that acupuncture on the ear may aid weight loss when paired with diet and exercise,” says Dr Fujimoto. “It’s likely that acupuncture has a positive effect by curbing cravings and appetite, improving digestion, and boosting metabolism.”

The authors note several limitations including that it is an observational study in a small group of Japanese men over a short time period and can’t prove causation.

Meeting: European Congress on Obesity (ECO2023)

4 Comments on "New Study Reveals That Needle-Free Acupuncture Could Help You Lose Weight"

  1. Foto van de balletjes, onderzoek.

  2. Calorie restriction caused 100% of the weight loss. That is the only mechanism that will cause weight loss, in reality.
    Acupuncture, indeed all of TCM, is pseudoscience. Woo. False. A lie. A scam.
    The placebo effect is also well understood, thus fully explaining the effect of said woo on cravings in participants.
    How was this waste of paper not laughed out of the conference?

  3. Qi? Ancient Chinese quackery as legitimate therapy? I thought this was a science web site.

  4. Weird how weight loss is never reported in studies on acupuncture (or other pseudoscience) WITHOUT a calorie restricted diet…

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