Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
Stimulating the ear through acupuncture could be an effective method when trying to lose weight. The new research, published in the journal Acupuncture in Medicine, has found a five point stimulation of the outer ear may be better than single point at reducing abdominal fat.
Ear acupuncture is based on the understanding that the outer ear represents all parts of the body. Dr Paul Nogier first noticed that a patient’s back-ache was cured after sustaining a burn on the ear back in 1956. Since then, the approach has been used to treat drug addiction and help people give up smoking and lose weight.
Researchers from Kyung Hee University in South Korea compared acupuncture of five points on the outer ear to one point using a sham treatment on 91 overweight adults. The five point acupuncture method involved sticking small needles 0.07-inches deep into regions of the ear that purportedly affected the shen-men, spleen, stomach, endocrine and hunger.
Study participants were asked to follow a restrictive diet and not to take any extra exercise during the eight week period of their treatment. Researchers randomly assigned 31 people to the five point treatment and asked the participants to keep them in place with surgical tape for a week. After this period, the participants were given the same treatment on the other ear, with the process repeated over eight weeks.
Thirty people in the study were assigned to the same treatment process, but at just the one hunger point. Another 30 people were given a placebo treatment, during which they underwent the same process and timescales as the others but the needles were removed immediately after insertion.
All of the study participants were weighed and measured at the start and end of the trial, as well as four weeks in. These measurements included body-mass-index (BMI), waist circumference, body fat mass, percentage body fat and blood pressure to see what impact acupuncture could have had on the individual.
The authors say 24 people dropped out before the eight weeks ended, 15 of which were in the sham treatment group. They suggest these people may have found it harder to regulate their desire to eat and cope with the restrictive diet.
The participants in the five-point treatment who kept going for the entire period with the active treatment showed a 6.1 percent reduction in BMI after four weeks compared with the placebo group, which saw no reduction in BMI. The group using the one-point treatment saw a 5.7 percent reduction in BMI.
The study saw waist circumferences also shrink, with the largest drop seen in the group on the five-point treatment compared with the placebo group. Body fat measures also fell after eight weeks, but only in those receiving the five-point treatment.
Researchers conclude both five and one point approaches can help treat obesity, but the five point approach may be more appropriate for tackling abdominal fat.