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Acupuncture for Weight Loss: Does it Work?

18th November 2022

Acupuncture, a needle-based alternative medicine, has been shown to aid with weight loss. Acupuncture for weight loss has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for millennia to enhance the flow of energy (“chi”) in the body, and evidence suggests that it may alleviate various aspects known to contribute to weight gain and obesity.

Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese medicinal procedure that involves inserting tiny, flexible needles into particular spots on the body. This therapy method, which has been used for 2,500 years, has recently gained popularity in North America and is now acknowledged as a safe and effective treatment for a variety of health conditions, including weight loss.

Acupuncture for weight loss has traditionally been regarded to control the flow of qi/chi (energy) in the body and aid in the restoration of equilibrium. It’s been used to treat a variety of problems, including migraines, infertility, pain management, and weight loss.

Your acupuncturist will conduct a general health history and determine your weight loss objectives during your first appointment. They will assist you in determining the most effective treatment strategy for you by identifying the source of the problem (e.g., sluggish metabolism, thyroid difficulties, binge eating).

Does acupuncture help with losing weight?

Acupuncture for weight loss can be an effective alternative treatment for weight loss, but it must be accompanied with changes in lifestyle and nutrition to be effective.

Acupuncture was found to have positive effects in lowering body mass index, body weight, and body fat mass percentage in a study titled ‘Acupuncture versus sham acupuncture for simple obesity: a systematic review and meta-analysis’ published in 2020 in the British Medical Association’s peer-reviewed The BMJ.

The study’s findings also imply that acupuncture is more than just a placebo effect when it comes to treating obesity. Acupuncture has also been found in studies to regulate the endocrine system, stimulate digestion, and suppress appetite.

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) associates weight growth or obesity with ‘phlegm’ and ‘dampness’ stagnation in the body. Overeating sugar and oily foods, as well as a lack of physical activity, might impair spleen function over time. Acupuncture, according to TCM, strengthens the spleen and addresses any underlying constitutional abnormalities.

Patients can receive manual acupuncture, electro-acupuncture, auricular acupuncture, or auricular acupressure, in which little herbal seeds from a plant called vaccaria are pasted on acupuncture points in the ear. Treatment is customized to a person’s medical condition, not his weight. Pregnant people, as well as individuals with tumors or bleeding issues, should avoid acupuncture.

A 10-session course will usually begin with biweekly sessions. If the patient does not lose much weight after one or two courses of acupuncture, he should discontinue treatment and seek other options.

How much weight can you lose with acupuncture?

Although different acupuncture practitioners will recommend different levels of treatment and lengths of treatment, a common program for those who want to lose 10 to 15 pounds is to receive several treatments each week for a period of six to eight weeks.

As the program proceeds, there is a possibility that the weekly visit count will decrease. The amount of acupuncture sessions that are suggested by a given practitioner will also differ from person to person.

Can acupuncture get rid of belly fat?

A small Korean study discovered that ear acupuncture for weight loss could be used to help people lose abdominal fat. In the same way that pressure points in the foot are thought to be linked to specific organs in the body, a new study says that stimulating five acupuncture sites in the ear could help patients lose weight, especially those struggling with the stomach bulge.

Scientists from Kyung Hee University in Seoul separated participants into three groups, which were published online in Acupuncture in Medicine. Acupuncture treatments to the outer ear were administered to 31 participants at five distinct sites. The needles were placed 2 mm deep into the flesh and taped in place for a week. The identical therapy was applied to the opposite ear, and the operation was repeated eight times.

A needle was inserted into a single hunger spot in the second group of 30 subjects. The third group had a “sham” treatment in which the needles were removed shortly after insertion. It should be mentioned that participants were asked to follow a low-calorie diet and refrain from exercising throughout the experiment.

In total, 24 participants dropped out before the eight-week period ended, with 15 from the control group. Among those who remained, the first group lost 6% of their BMI at the halfway point, while the group that had the single-point acupuncture therapy lost 5.7 percent. According to the researchers, the group that had the five-point acupuncture treatment saw the greatest reduction in waist circumference.

Where is the acupuncture point for weight loss?


Zusanli is thought to influence the organs of the upper abdomen, the parasympathetic nervous system (which controls digestion), and the overall energy of the body because it is located along the stomach meridian.

This point is about 3 inches below and 1 inch distant from the center of the body, just below the kneecap.

To hammer home the point:

  • Put two fingers together on one of the zusanli points.
  • With two fingers, apply delicate yet strong pressure to the point.
  • Massage the point for 2 to 3 minutes in a circular motion.
  • Rep on the opposite side.


Sanyinjiao is supposed to influence the organs of the lower abdomen and the parasympathetic nervous system because it is located along the spleen meridian.

This position is approximately three inches above the inner ankle bone.

To hammer home the point:

• Place one or two fingers on a sanyinjiao point.
• Apply hard yet mild pressure to the point with your finger (s).
• Massage the point for 2 to 3 minutes in a circular motion.
• Rep on the opposite side.


This point is located along the meridian of the conception vessel. Zhongwan is thought to affect the upper abdominal organs as well as those connected to digestion, such as the stomach and intestines.

This location is about four inches above the navel.

To hammer home the point:

  • Put two fingers together on the zhongwan point.
  • With two fingers, apply delicate yet strong pressure to the point. Take care not to apply too much pressure to this delicate area.
  • Massage the point for 2 to 3 minutes in a circular motion.


Located along the ruling meridian, renzhong is supposed to affect weight, particularly obesity.

This point is positioned on the philtrum, about 1 inch below the junction of the nostrils.

To hammer home the point:

  • Put one of your fingers on the renzhong point.
  • Apply hard yet mild pressure to the point with your finger.
  • Massage the point for 2 to 3 minutes in a circular motion.

Why do obese people get acupuncture for weight loss?

It has been found that the use of acupuncture for weight loss in the treatment of obesity is beneficial in achieving weight loss. It can have an impact on hunger, intestinal motility, metabolism, and emotional aspects such as stress.

Acupuncture for weight loss has also been shown to increase neuronal activity in the ventromedial nuclei of the hypothalamus, tone in the smooth muscle of the stomach, and levels of enkephalin, beta endorphin, and serotonin in plasma and brain tissue. Acupuncture has been shown to increase the excitability of the satiety center in the ventromedial nucleus of the hypothalamus in obese persons.

Acupuncture stimulates the vagus nerve’s auricular branch and increases serotonin levels. Both of these exercises have been demonstrated to enhance tone in the stomach’s smooth muscle, decreasing appetite. Serotonin, for example, improves intestinal motility. It also regulates stress and depression by producing endorphins and dopamine.

In addition to these benefits, it is considered that an elevation in plasma beta endorphin levels following acupuncture application can contribute to body weight loss in obese people by mobilizing the body’s energy depots via the lipolithic effect.


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