Can ear acupuncture help weight loss?

Experts have agreed that a recent study published in the journal Acupuncture in Medicine, and which proposed a link between ear acupuncture and weight loss is more wishful thinking than actual science. More specifically, scientists who were not involved with the Korean study found it to be flawed, implausible, and a downright waste of perfectly good money. Ear acupuncture, or auricular acupuncture, is similar to other pseudomedical practices that claim that one part of the body is connected to the rest, such as iridology and reflexology, and is about as reliable as them.

In the study, 91 participants underwent three ear acupuncture approaches; acupuncture on five points on the outer ear, acupuncture on one point, and a bogus treatment as a control, which makes you wonder how they could tell which treatment was the phony one. Additionally, the subjects were requested to follow a specific diet that while restrictive, was not designed to make them lose weight. Finally, they were asked to refrain from extra exercise during the eight weeks that the trial lasted. The results indicated lower weight and body mass indexes in the two active treatment groups.

However, external experts have criticized the study because of its small number of initial participants (a third of which did not even finish the trial, something that the researchers didn’t take into account when drawing their conclusions) and its short length. For example, professor of applied statistics at Open University Kevin McConway said that eight weeks is not enough time when it comes to a notably long-term problem like obesity. He added that this is nothing more than another weight-loss treatment with no demonstrable longer-term effects. University of Exeter professor of complementary medicine Edzard Ernst agrees by saying that the study was severely flawed and limited and that the only weight auricular acupuncture will relieve you of is in your wallet. 

Related Read: What You Need to Know About Reflexology