The effect of auricular acupuncture in obese women: a randomized controlled trial

J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2009 Jun;18(6):813-8. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2008.1005.


Background: The aims of this randomized study are to examine the effect of auricular acupuncture on obese women and to explore the relationship between the effect of auricular acupuncture and obesity-related hormone peptides.

Methods: Forty-five of 60 obese women aged between 16 and 65 years with body mass index (BMI) >27 kg/m2 and who had not received any other weight control maneuvers within the last 3 months completed this study. The subjects were blinded and randomly divided into groups A and B. Group A (n = 23) received auricular acupuncture, and group B (n = 22) received sham auricular acupuncture using placebo needles, twice each week for 6 weeks. The subjects' body weight (BW), BMI, waist circumference (WC), and obesity-related hormone peptides were measured at the beginning of the study and after 6 weeks of treatment. The data were compared and expressed as percent reductions.

Results: This study found no statistical difference in percent reduction in BW, BMI, and WC between the group receiving 6 weeks of auricular acupuncture treatment and the control group. After treatment, group A revealed a significant increase in ghrelin level and decrease in leptin level. On the other hand, group B, who received sham auricular acupuncture, showed no significant difference in ghrelin and leptin levels.

Conclusions: This study found no statistical difference in percent reduction in BW, BMI, and WC between the two groups. No adverse effects of short-term auricular acupuncture treatment were seen in the study. Auricular acupuncture may have potential benefit on obesity-related hormone peptides.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Points
  • Acupuncture, Ear / methods*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Body Mass Index
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Ghrelin / blood
  • Humans
  • Leptin / blood
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / blood
  • Obesity / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Waist-Hip Ratio
  • Weight Loss
  • Women's Health*
  • Young Adult


  • Ghrelin
  • Leptin