Does Acupuncture Work For Obesity?

Millions of Americans are suffering from obesity. Innovative solutions have led to the discovery of an alternative way to treat obesity. A growing number of research shows that acupuncture can be beneficial for individuals struggling with obesity.

The technique

A special technique is used to treat obese individuals with acupuncture. The technique is a form of psychological acupuncture. It is widely referred to in the medical community as the emotional freedom technique. It involves tapping on various pressure points throughout the body. The procedure is performed by gently tapping on needles situated on pressure points on a person. As the tapping is done, the individual is asked to focus on thoughts and emotions that trigger such behavior. This form of acupuncture has been used to treat phobias, stress, anxiety and addictions in individuals.

Some acupuncturists may use the ear acupuncture technique. In this method, the vagus nerve, which is linked to digestive processes and brain activity in the body, is used to alter hunger signals in the body.

What to expect

Acupuncture for obesity is administered to patients based on certain factors. The acupuncturist will begin with an initial screening. The information gathered during the screening process will likely explore patient and medical history, eating habits, body type and lifestyle habits. From the profile created, the person’s treatment plan is designed.

How it is treated

Miniature needles are inserted into body parts of the person. The procedure is supposed to illicit a sense of calm and tranquility for the patient. The positive feelings resulting from the treatment are believed to play a role in further suppressing the person’s desire to eat. The procedure has physiological effects as well; it believed to help the body increase its metabolism. It provides a “reset” for the body and retrains it to utilize food more efficiently. In some, the body stores food in the system as fat.

Results to be expected

Weight loss results can differ among individuals. The average amount of weight loss can range between two to four pounds on a weekly basis. Several treatments are required to achieve these results. Some acupuncturists believe that a minimum of six treatments are required to see substantial improvement in eating habits. In some people, up to ten treatments may be required before the desired results can be achieved. Most acupuncturists will recommend treatment on a continued basis until one sees progress in weight loss efforts. For most, the results can last approximately six months or more. One may have to resume treatment if the cravings and desire to eat intensifies.


A Russian study involving obese children showed that acupuncture provides multiple health benefits. Some of the health benefits included an improvement in body mass, normalized blood levels, and improvement in energy levels.

A recent study published in the International Journal of Obesity showed a remarkable improvement in patients could be achieved through acupuncture. The review explored 3,013 cases where obesity was treated through acupuncture. The average patient was able to lose 3.4 pounds.

In a study published in 2006, acupuncture was proven to suppress appetites among patients. According to the lead author of this study, acupuncture helps improve the muscle tone in a person’s stomach. Once the stomach muscles have been adequately toned, the area in the hypothalamus that promotes satiety is triggered, and the serotonin amounts are increased through the procedure. Serotonin levels in the body have been linked to depression, stress and improper digestion.

Obesity can be treated through acupuncture. The research shows that brain activity can contribute to eating habits in individuals. Multiple sessions may be required to see improved results in weight loss efforts. In addition to brain activity, anxiety, stress, and digestive problems have all been linked to obesity in many. Although limited research is available on the effects of acupuncture over a longer period of time; preliminary findings suggests that acupuncture can be helpful to those struggling with weight issues.

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