The effects of auricular electroacupuncture on obesity in female patients--a prospective randomized placebo-controlled pilot study

Complement Ther Med. 2014 Feb;22(1):21-5. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2013.10.002. Epub 2013 Oct 31.


Background: Obesity is a chronic condition related to serious morbidity and mortality of increasing incidence and prevalence. Several studies show a significantly higher weight loss with acupuncture treatment. This is the first prospective, randomized, double-blinded study, testing the effects of auricular electroacupuncture on weight loss in obese female patients.

Methods: 56 female obese patients (age>18, Body Mass Index, BMI>25) were randomized to receive either auricular acupuncture with electrical stimulation with a P-Stim® device (verum group, n=28) or placebo treatment with a P-Stim® dummy (n=28) for four days. Three auricular acupuncture points were chosen (hunger 18, stomach 87 and colon 91). The treatment was performed once a week for a period of six weeks. A follow-up visit was performed after 4 weeks. At each visit body weight, BMI (Body Mass Index) and body fat were measured.

Results: Relative reduction of body weight was significantly greater in the verum group (-3.73%; CI=-4.70 to -2.76) than in the placebo group (-0.70%; CI=-1.57 to +0.16; p<0.001) In addition we also observed a significant reduction of BMI (p<0.001) in the verum group (-3.62%; CI=-4.39 to -2.84) compared to placebo (-0.82%; CI=-1.55 to -0.10; p<0.001). No patient reported side effects related to acupuncture.

Conclusion: In conclusion electrical auricular acupuncture could be a safe, additive, non-pharmacological treatment in obese patients.

Keywords: Auricular acupuncture; Electroacupuncture; Obesity.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture, Ear* / adverse effects
  • Acupuncture, Ear* / methods
  • Adipose Tissue / physiology
  • Body Weight / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Obesity / therapy*
  • Prospective Studies