Acupuncture for Weight Loss: Does It Work?

Acupuncture for weight loss is a relatively new practice in the West. In most Western circles, acupuncture is considered an adjunct to a comprehensive diet program. More research is needed to determine the effectiveness of acupuncture for weight loss and whether or not it is useful in isolation. However, preliminary findings indicate that it could be beneficial as a supplement to weight loss programs.


Chinese medicine, where acupuncture originated, takes a holistic approach to health. Acupuncture focuses on maximizing qi flow. Qi (also known as chi) is a combination of matter and energy. In India, it is referred to as prana, or life force. In Japan, the equivalent is ki. When there are obstructions of energy and life force throughout the body, the end result is a range of health issues, excessive weight gain being one example.


When you visit an acupuncturist for the purpose of weight loss, you will sit down and discuss your various issues ranging from eating habits and digestive problems to cravings and life stresses. The acupuncturist will check your pulse, examine the coating on your tongue and draw conclusions about which organs are working harder than others.

The acupuncturist will then place needles at specific points throughout your body. Each of these points is related to specific organs. For example, if your problem is water retention, the endocrine gland may be involved. If your weight gain is related to hormonal or sugar imbalance, the acupuncture point corresponding to the spleen will be of focus.

An acupuncture treatment will consist of a half hour or more of electro stimulated needles placed at various points throughout your body. This process stimulates the release of endorphins which are believed to reduce stress and create greater organ balance. When you go home from your treatment, you will often leave with ear tacks that you can later stimulate if you experience an urge to overeat.


Published studies examining the effectiveness of acupuncture for weight loss indicate that when you combine it with a reasonable diet and exercise plan, it does lead to greater weight loss. However, in some of the studies, the difference between using acupuncture and not doing so was not significant. The studies examining the use of acupuncture as a sole method for losing weight are few in number and poorly designed. Additional studies will have to be conducted to determine its effectiveness in isolation for a comprehensive weight loss program.

With regards to treatment frequency, it has been observed that weight loss benefits are not made apparent until a series of ten or more treatments have been completed. In addition to weight loss effects, acupuncture has shown to decrease problems with joint pain, insomnia and headaches.


Acupuncture as an adjunct to a weight loss program combines the practices of the East and the West. The release of stress reducing endorphins helps you to manage the challenges of food cravings and weight gain anxiety. In conjunction with a sensible weight loss plan, acupuncture is a useful treatment. If you’re interested in finding an acupuncturist near you, is a great resource.


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