Health & Fitness

Acupuncture and Weight Loss

Kristen Sparrow • June 27, 2012


Fit woman running in town
Better BMI with Acupuncture!

A patient of mine sent me an acupuncture email from a local practitioner touting the benefits of acupuncture for weight loss.  The email was a mass produced type email that acupuncturists send out instead of writing their own.  It had some basic information in it and I warned my patient that you have to still have a weight loss plan in place in addition to the acupuncture treatment.  As I’ve told my patients for years, “if I had an acupuncture treatment for weight loss, I’d be a billionaire.”
That said, here is a link to a recent study showing that acupuncture does influence ghrelins, a stomach hormone involved in appetite.  I copied the abstract almost in full.  And people ought to think of acupuncture before surgery for weight loss since bariatric surgery is associated with alcohol abuse.  (I’ve seen this in my clinic also.)

Acupunct Med. 2012 Jun 22.
Influence of acupuncture on leptin, ghrelin, insulin and cholecystokinin in obese women: a randomised, sham-controlled preliminary trial.Güçel F, Bahar B, Demirtas C, Mit S, Cevik
Department of Medical Biochemistry, Etlik Zubeyde Hanim Obstetrics and Gynecology Training and Research Hospital, Ankara, Turkey.
Obesity is an energy balance problem caused by overeating. Obesity treatment includes diet, exercise, behaviour treatment, pharmacotherapy and surgery; in addition, acupuncture is also an option.
To investigate the effect of acupuncture on weight loss and whether a brief acupuncture treatment of 5 weeks can change circulating levels of leptin, ghrelin, insulin and cholecystokinin (CCK) in obese women.
40 women with a body mass index (BMI)>30 kg/m(2) were equally randomised to either an acupuncture group or a sham (non-penetrating) acupuncture group and received treatment at LI4, HT7, ST36, ST44 and SP6 bilaterally. Both groups had two sessions of 20 min/week for a total of 10 sessions. Serum insulin, leptin, plasma ghrelin and CCK levels were measured by ELISA.
Acupuncture treatment decreased insulin and leptin levels and induced weight loss, together with a decrease in BMI compared with sham acupuncture. Furthermore, between-group analyses demonstrated increases in plasma ghrelin and CCK levels in subjects who received acupuncture treatment.
These findings suggest that acupuncture may help to regulate weight owing to its beneficial effects on hormones such as insulin, leptin, ghrelin and CCK in obese subjects even after a few weeks of treatment.