Ear Acupuncture Works for Obesity

Auricular (ear) acupuncture successfully treats obesity. A new study concludes that a special 5 point combination of auricular acupuncture points is effective for weight loss in overweight individuals. A one point auricular treatment was also found effective but not to the degree of clinical success as the 5 acupuncture point combination.

A randomised controlled clinical trial of a total of 91 patients with a BMI (body mass index) of 23 or greater were divided into 3 groups. Group 1 received the 5 acupuncture point combination. Group 2 received only one acupuncture point and group 3 received sham acupuncture. At both 4 and 8 weeks following the treatment regime, measurements were taken to determine clinical effectiveness. It was discovered that the 5 acupuncture point combination was the most effective yielding over a 6% reduction in the body mass index. The one point acupuncture treatment regime yielded just under a 6% improvement in BMI. Both groups 1 and 2 showed significant improvements in BMI and weight loss.


Group 1 received 5 auricular acupuncture points: shenmen, spleen, stomach, hunger, endocrine. Group 2 received only one auricular acupuncture point: hunger. Group 3, the sham group, was needled at the 5 auricular acupuncture points but the needles were then immediately removed. The unilateral application of the acupuncture needles was applied once per week. Both groups 1 and group 2 retained a total needle time of 8 weeks using the ear tacks, tiny acupuncture needles attached by tape. Group 3 only received local auricular stimulation of the acupuncture points to simulate the experience but the needles were not retained.

A special type of tape retained the needles over the 8 week period for groups 1 and 2. The same tape hid the absence of needles in the sham group. The needle depth was 2 millimeters in the auricular acupuncture points. The 5 point acupuncture treatment caused the most significant reduction in waist circumference and BMI. Body fat percentage dropped significantly in the 5 point acupuncture treatment but not in the other groups.

The 5 auricular acupuncture point combination is commonly employed for digestion issues. Gastric and duodenal ulcers are commonly treated with a similar combination. The 5 acupuncture point weight loss combination used in the study includes auricular shenmen.

The spleen auricular point is traditionally used for strengthening the spleen and harmonizing the stomach. It helps to produce yin-blood and benefits the muscles.

The endocrine point used in the 5 acupuncture point combination is located in the cavum concha in the intertragic notch.

The hunger point can be used to up-regulate or down-regulate sensations of hunger. It is used for issues of anorexia, bulimia and digestive disturbances.

At Acupuncture of Iowa we use safe and reliable techniques when we use needles that are left in the ear between visits. Our ear needles are just 1 mm or less in length and can be stimulated by gentle rubbing to reinforce the effect at home. Our weight loss treatment also includes coaching on behavior change and dietary change to support health.

Call Acupuncture of Iowa at 319-341-0031 to schedule a weight loss consultation and treatment!