Cupping, feces face masks, microdermabrasion; with all the latest beauty and health procedures, one more bizarre than the next, it would seem that acupuncture has been relegated to the “Where Are They Now?” files along with the stars of most nineties sitcom stars. While the concept of poking needles in the skin as a way of treating various health issues may have seemed edgy a few decades ago, it now seems rather tame in comparison to some of the newer approaches. However, what comes around goes around, and if something old is discovered to have a new value, it may be worth reinvestigating. Recent studies show that ear acupuncture may help in weight loss. Shall we investigate?
Auricular acupuncture, aka, acupuncture of the ear, was a discipline first used in France in 1956. When Dr. Paul Nogier began to notice that the pain of a backache could be relieved by burning the ear of the sufferer, he began mapping the ear to locate spots correlating to various bodily systems and organs. The doctor’s strategy entailed envisioning the ear as a curled fetus with the head pointing downward, and he delivered treatment by applying pressure to the spot corresponding to each organ.
In order to evaluate the efficacy of acupuncture treatments in weight loss, researchers compared the Korean standard five point acupuncture treatment with single point stimulation. A control group which received a fake treatment was also used.
The study included 91 Koreans, 75 women, and 16 men, all of whom had a body mass index of 23 or greater. None of them had received treatments for weight control in the past six months. The participants were divided into three groups, the first of which received the five point treatment, the second of which received the one point treatment, and the third of which received the fake treatment.
The first group had needles positioned at five points in the ear corresponding to the Shen-men, stomach, spleen, hunger, and endocrine system, which would remain in place for a week, at which time, the needles would be inserted in the other ear, in a process that would be repeated over the eight week trial.The second group had the same treatment, but only one needle was inserted, at the hunger point.
The third group believed that were receiving the five point treatment, but the needles were actually removed right after insertion; however, the group was not notified of the removal and the surgical tape remained to prevent the participants from discovering the truth. All three groups were assigned restricted diets and asked not to exercise during the trial.
Of the participants who completed the study (24 dropped out) those who received the five point treatment showed a 6.1% reduction in BMI by the middle of the trial, the one point group showed a 5.7% reduction and the group that received fake treatment showed no change at all. The researchers conclude: “Both five needle acupuncture treatment generally used in Korean clinics and one-needle treatment at the hunger point appears to be effective in reducing body weight in the short term.”
Let us know what you think. Would you consider acupuncture as a way of achieving your weight loss goals?