Acupuncture is a form of Chinese medicine that has been practiced for thousands of years. Many people use acupuncture to treat various ailments including chronic pain, migraines and nausea caused by chemotherapy. A study published in Acupuncture in Medicine suggests that acupuncture may also be an effective treatment for weight loss.
Many conditions can be treated with acupuncture. Its theory and treatment developed as practitioners noticed that needling different areas of the body resulted in different physical effects. The treatment is based on the concept of meridians or energy channels which have been mapped throughout the human body. There are 12 main channels with many acupuncture points along each. There are also specific points that are marked along each channel which are known as acupoints – access points to the flow of “qi” energy in the body. Pressure on these points activates a healing response in the body. This process is known as acupressure.
Acupuncture takes this treatment one step further. An acupuncturist inserts fine, thread-like needles into a patient’s body at specific acupoints to cause a change in the body’s energy system to promote healing. Usually treatment will involve several sessions; however, you may see positive effects after a single treatment.
The ear is considered a microsystem for treatment with acupuncture. With 200 identified acupuncture points, there is a part of the ear that represents every part of the body. While acupuncture originated in China, the microsystem approach to the ear began with a Frenchman, Dr. Paul Nogier in the 1950s. He observed several people in Africa that had scars on the same spot of their external ear. This spot corresponded to the area that was used to treat sciatic pain. Dr. Nogier developed a “somatatopic” map of the ear for clinical practitioners, and ear acupuncture was performed in France, Germany and then China to notable results.
Auricular acupuncture has been used to treat drug addiction, and to help people quit smoking and lose weight. The needling for weight loss has involved stimulation of a single point of the external ear. However, the recent study suggests that stimulating five points continuously may be a more beneficial treatment for weight loss.
Korean researchers studied 91 overweight people. The participants were split into three groups so results would be compared. The first group, comprising 31 participants, received acupuncture in five points of the outer ear including shen-men (divine gate), spleen, stomach, hunger and endocrine. Acupuncture needles were inserted 2 mm deep into the outer ear and kept in place with surgical tape for a week. The same treatment was applied to the other ear, with the process repeated over eight weeks.
The second group of 30 participant received acupuncture in the hunger point of the external ear, in the same manner as group one. The third group, with the remaining 30, received a placebo treatment where the needles were removed shortly after the insertion.
During the course of the eight-week study, the participants were also placed on a restricted diet and were told not to take part in any additional exercise.
All participants were weighed and measured at the start and end of the study. Measurements included body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, body fat mass, percentage of body fat and blood pressure. While 24 participants dropped out before the end of the study, significant differences were seen among the participants after four weeks of treatment.
The participants in the five-point treatment group had a 6.1 percent reduction in BMI, the one-point treatment group had a 5.7 percent reduction in BMI, while the placebo group showed no reduction in BMI. The researchers noted that there was a significant difference in weight measurements between both treatment groups compared to the placebo group at four weeks. Measures of body fat decreased in participants in the five-point treatment group. The last measure, blood pressure, did not differ between the treatment and placebo groups.
The results of this study suggest that acupuncture treatment of the external ear is beneficial for weight loss. While the treatment of the hunger point on the external ear results in weight loss, treatment of five points of the external ear, as opposed to just one, provides more significant weight loss results.
If you’re struggling with weight loss, you may want to consider this holistic therapy to supplement a healthy diet and exercise regimen.
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