Study suggests ear acupuncture can help men lose weight

A new study suggests that ear acupuncture can help promote weight loss. Photo by Cpl. Paul Peterson/Wikimedia Commons
A new study suggests that ear acupuncture can help promote weight loss. Photo by Cpl. Paul Peterson/Wikimedia Commons

May 16 (UPI) -- A study being presented at the European Congress on Obesity in Ireland this week suggests that ear acupuncture using metal beads can help reduce weight, body mass index and body fat when combined with diet and exercise.

The study, led by Takahiro Fujimoto, of Clinic F in Tokyo, was published Tuesday in the scientific journal BMJ Open Gastroenterology.


The paper documents how food cravings can be controlled using the simpler method of acupuncture stimulation with beads rather than the traditional use of intradermal needles, which requires expert acupuncturists.

"Since these tiny metal beads are attached to six points on the outer ear that stimulate nerves and organs which regulate appetite, satiety and hunger, this type of acupuncture does not require complex knowledge or skill," Fujimoto said.

"In Japan, this method to aid weight loss has been used for over 30 years."

Acupuncture in traditional Chinese medicine is based on the understanding that your health depends on the flow of qi (energy) in your body. A blocked or disrupted flow can have a negative effect on physical and mental health.

Auricular, or ear, acupuncture therapy is based on the theory that the outer ear represents all parts of the body.


Thin needles or beads are placed on certain points, usually along meridian lines, to restore the flow by resolving any blockages or disruption and may help with a variety of health conditions, the authors said. This treatment has been used by others to treat addictions like drug use and smoking.

The small study involved 81 Japanese men diagnosed as overweight or obese ages 21 to 78 with an average BMI of 28.4 kilograms/meter with high levels of unhealthy abdominal fat. They were assessed with auricular acupuncture with 1.5-millimeter metal ear beads on the outer ear.

The beads were placed on both ears and kept in place using surgical tape to ensure the participants were continuously receiving uniform pressure on each of the acupuncture points. From there, participants were asked to reduce their total food intake by half during three months of treatments.

"Our findings suggest that acupuncture on the ear may aid weight loss when paired with diet and exercise," Fujimoto said. "It's likely that acupuncture has a positive effect by curbing cravings and appetite, improving digestion, and boosting metabolism."

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