Acupuncture Can Help People Lose Weight, Say Researchers

Acupuncture in the ear can help people lose weight, researchers have claimed.

The technique is "effective" for treating overweight people, they said.

Researchers applied two different techniques - one targeting five points on the ear and another pricking just one - and compared them to a control group.

The small study of just 58 Korean participants found that those who underwent the treatment over eight weeks had a lower body mass index (BMI) and lower weight than those in the control group.

The five-point treatment brought BMI scores down by 6.1% and the single-point treatment group had a 5.7% lower BMI, researchers said.

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Publishing their findings in the journal Acupuncture In Medicine, the South Korean researchers wrote: "The five ear acupuncture points, generally used in Korean clinics, and the Hunger point alone treatment are both effective for treating overweight people."

Some questioned the findings of the study.

Professor Edzard Ernst, emeritus professor of complementary medicine at the University of Exeter, said: "It is hard to think of a treatment that is less plausible than ear acupuncture.

"Testing such a treatment is arguably a waste of resources. If it is studied nevertheless, the test should be rigorous, which unfortunately cannot be said for this study."

The London Acupuncture Clinic website states: "It is first important to make clear that acupuncture is not a magic solution... diet and exercise still remain the most important factors in weight loss. However acupuncture and herbal medicine can provide an excellent compliment in this case. By making a traditional diagnosis, the acupuncturist can see if there is any underlying problems which could be hindering weight loss. Thyroid dysfunction, polycystic ovaries, sluggish metabolisms, or diabetes could all be examples where an underlying condition affects your weight."