Can Acupuncture Help You Lose Weight?

A clinical trial involving 72 participants suggests that acupuncture is a safe way to help people lose weight.

AsianScientist (July 12, 2017) – A clinical trial by researchers at the Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) has shown that acupuncture can help people lose an average of 2.47 kg.

The trial was conducted in cooperation with the Hong Kong Hospital Authority, the researchers conducted the trial from September 2015 to October 2016 on 72 participants, comprising 13 males and 59 females aged between 18 and 68. The participants had a BMI of 25 or above but none of them had taken any other weight control measures or any medication three months prior to the trial.

The participants were randomly assigned to two groups for the controlled trial: the ‘real acupuncture group’ and the ‘sham acupuncture group.’ Each participant underwent a total of 16 sessions of acupuncture treatment over eight weeks. The acupoints on the abdomen include Tianshu, Dahen, Daimai, Qihai, and Zhongwan while those on the lower limbs are Zusanli, Fenlong, and Sanyinjiao.

The participants also received auricular acupressure by putting Vaccariae seed (王不留行) embedded within adhesive tape on auricular points of Hunger, Shen men, Spleen and Stomach. According to the Chinese medicine perspective, these acupoints can restore and harmonize the flow of energy in the intestines as well as transform body fluid and expel phlegm.

After eight weeks of treatment, the real acupuncture group saw an average weight decrease of 2.47 kg and a drop of 1.56 kg/m2 in average BMI. The most successful case recorded weight loss of 7.2 kg with a drop of 3.2 kg/m2 in BMI. The sham acupuncture group had an average weight loss of 0.54 kg with an average lowering of 0.19 kg/m2 in BMI.

Director of the HKBU Hong Kong Chinese Medicine Study Centre Professor Bian Zhaoxing said that acupuncture has a stimulating effect. The mechanism of acupuncture may be that the stimulation to the serotonin and beta endorphin will suppress appetite and increase lipolysis activity, resulting in weight loss.

She explained that this trial provides preliminary evidence of the efficacy and safety of acupuncture on weight control in Hong Kong. It also offers a research basis for future large sample clinical trials and a guideline for developing acupuncture to counter obesity.


Source: Hong Kong Baptist University; Photo: Shutterstock.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.

Asian Scientist Magazine is an award-winning science and technology magazine that highlights R&D news stories from Asia to a global audience. The magazine is published by Singapore-headquartered Wildtype Media Group.

Related Stories from Asian Scientist