Clinical Trial Finds Acupuncture Benefits Weight Control By Suppressing Appetite

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Clinical Trial Finds Acupuncture Benefits Weight Control By Suppressing Appetite
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Historically, acupuncture has been used in ancient Chinese medicine to treat a variety of health conditions. Focusing the flow of energy in the body called “qi”, acupuncture focuses on how the insertion of needles in various parts of the body can promote wellness. Despite being used in China for centuries, it was only in 1997 that acupuncture was acknowledged by the National Institutes of Health as form of therapy. Today, there are over 40 accredited acupuncture schools in the United States, with most states requiring acupuncturists to pass state exams to become licensed. [1][2]

Acupuncture And Digestion

If acupuncture works by improving energy flow through the body to manage health and wellness, how can it help you lose weight? From September 2015 to October 2016, researchers from the School of Chinese Medicine of Hong Kong Baptiste University conducted a trial over eight weeks with 72 participants. There were 13 males and 59 females who were part of the study, all of whom had a BMI of 25 or higher but had not actively been taking any weight control medication or measures in the pass three months. Half of the number of participants were part of the control group who did not receive acupuncture and half went the experimental group, who did. [3]

Acupuncture was then applied to the abdomen and lower extremities over eight weeks. There were 16 sessions in total over these eight weeks. By stimulating the abdomen and lower extremities, “qi” was able to flow well through the gastrointestinal tract, which promotes better digestion and could also positively affect your appetite and contribute to weight loss.

After the treatment period, the experimental group had an average weight loss of 2.47 kilograms or a reduction of 1.56 in their BMI. The control group had an average weight loss of 0.54 kg or a 0.19 drop in BMI. The researchers believe that acupuncture was able to stimulate specific hormones in the body like serotonin and beta endorphin; these two hormones suppress appetite and promotes lipolysis (or burning of fat cells). Through this, weight loss through acupuncture was certainly possible and warrants further research to find out if the data can be applied to the general public. [3]

The researchers also suggest adjusting your diet along with acupuncture sessions to help combat obesity. Apples, walnuts, oatmeal, quinoa, flaxseeds and chia seeds are some foods that help suppress your appetite naturally while high fiber fruits and veggies can help improve digestion. A combination of a healthy diet with acupuncture can help your lose weight faster.

Other Health Benefits Of Acupuncture

– Acupuncture can do a lot more than help you lose weight. Different studies have also focused on the health benefits of acupuncture, primarily on how it can help manage pain. A recent publication in 2019 found that acupuncture was able to improve the symptoms of chemotherapy-induced neuropathy without any harmful side effects. [4]

– Acupuncture is not only good for physical ailments, it can also help with mental health as well. In 2015, a study was conducted that involved over 1000 participants in various randomized clinical trials. The participants suffered from depressive disorders and were taking SSRIs, a kind of antidepressant medication. After the meta-analysis, the researchers found that acupuncture in combination with SSRIs was better at managing depression than SSRIs alone. [5]

– Yin, et. al. in 2017 found that after eight weeks of treatment, acupuncture was able to improve sleep quality in people suffering from insomnia. Treatment was done three times over four weeks with an additional two then four weeks of follow up. Results showed that acupuncture was able to reduce sleep awakenings and self-reported anxiety. [6]

Acupuncture Contraindications

While acupuncture is generally safe, there certain risks that come with any sort of procedure. If you have any of the following, consult your physician before having acupuncture done. [2]

1. Bleeding disorders – If you have a bleeding or clotting problem (or if you are taking blood thinners), you may be susceptible to bleeding or bruising from the acupuncture needles. While needle insertion and removal typically don’t create wounds, they may if you are suffering from a bleeding condition.

2. Pacemakers – Some forms of acupuncture involve the use of (mild) electric pulses to the needles, so if you have a pacemaker or similar gadget in your body, you’re better off avoiding this kind of procedure since the electricity can cause problems with the gadget’s operation.

3. Pregnancy – Acupuncture can also stimulate labor when done on certain parts of the body so avoid this procedure if you are pregnant or think you may be.


[1] Wang, C. (2016). A Look Back at the History of Acupuncture.

[2] Mayo Clinic. Acupuncture.

[3] Hong Kong Baptiste University. SCM clinical trial proves effectiveness of acupuncture for weight control.

[4] Baviera, A., et. al. (2019). Acupuncture in adults with Chemotherapy-Induced Peripheral Neuropathy: a systematic review.

[5] Chan, Y., et. al. (2015). The benefit of combined acupuncture and antidepressant medication for depression: A systematic review and meta-analysis.

[6] Yin, X., et. al. (2017). Efficacy and safety of acupuncture treatment on primary insomnia: a randomized controlled trial.

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