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Researchers at Kyung Hee University in Korea have discovered that performing ear acupuncture at five certain points on the ear is an effective method for fighting obesity.

Ear Acupuncture: Index to the Human Anatomy

Auricular acupuncture, or the acupuncture of the ear, is a therapeutic practice based on the principle that the outer ear represents every part of the human body. The practice of acupuncture-induced weight loss was first reported in Marseilles, France, at the International Acupuncture Medical Academy in 1956.

A common practice in Korean clinics, ear acupuncture has been used in an attempt to combat obesity and other illnesses such as drug addiction. Researchers at Kyung Hee University were determined to evaluate the actual effectiveness of five different acupuncture points in triggering weight loss, namely the Shen-men, Spleen, Stomach, Hunger and Endocrine points. Their objective was also to compare the combined effect of these five points to just the Hunger point.

Ear Acupuncture: Method of Treatment

The experiment consisted of 91 subjects (16 males and 75 females with a BMI greater than or equal to 23), with 58 participants providing data after 8 weeks. The subjects were placed in three groups, a “treatment I” group, a “treatment II” group and a “sham” group. People in treatment I received acupuncture on all five acupuncture points, people in treatment II received acupuncture on only one of the five acupuncture points, the “Hunger point,” and the “sham” group received acupuncture from the five points in question, but as a control the needles were removed immediately after they were inserted.

Patients received these ear acupuncture treatments weekly for a total of eight weeks. The patients were also instructed to have the same number of meals regularly without eating snacks, meat or wheat flour meal, and they were restricted from exercise activities outside of their daily work schedule.

Researchers measured the BMI, body fat mass, weight, percentage body fat and blood pressure of the patients before treatment as well as at 4 and 8 weeks of the treatment process. Treatment groups I and II reduced their BMI by 6.1% and 5.7%, respectively. Waist circumference decreased in all three groups at 4 and 8 weeks, but Treatment group I experienced the greatest amount of decrease. There was a significant difference in body weight between the treatment groups and the control group after 4 weeks, and the results were similar between the two treatment groups. Although there wasn’t a significant change in body fat mass between the treatment and control groups after 4 weeks, there was a significant change after 8 weeks, with treatment group 1 experiencing substantially more body fat loss than treatment group II and the control group. There wasn’t a drastic change in blood pressure between the groups at 4 or 8 weeks.

Ear Acupuncture: Conclusion

The scientists concluded that five-needle acupuncture treatment, as well as the Hunger point treatment, seem to be effective tools for short term weight loss. The five-needle acupuncture treatment may be the best auricular treatment for reducing waist size. Although the exact mechanisms behind this weight loss therapy remain unknown, ear acupuncture may hold promise for future methods of weight loss.

by Aaron Rodriques