New Health Acupuncture Clinic
   1407 York Road. Suite 305A. Lutherville.  MD  21093  
Tel : 443-310-5382  Fax: 667-206-2956   Emai:
Acupuncture for Body Weigh Loss
1. Clinic trails supports that acupuncture is an effective
treatment for reducing body weight.  
    During recent two decades,  researches on acupuncture for
weight loss have been increased for 5.5 folds based on
Pubmed. Most of those research works support acupuncture is
an effective therapy for weight loss.   
   Other review studied 47 clinic trials involved in 4,861 subjects in
acupuncture treatment groups and 3,821 subjects in the control
groups. Acupuncture treatment duration was from 2 weeks to 4
months.  The review found that compared with placebo or lifestyle
modification, acupuncture exhibited in favor of body weight
reduction, with a mean body weight reduction of 4.03 kg and a
mean body mass index reduction of 1.32 kg m2 respectively.
Compared with the pharmacological treatments of sibutramine,
fenfluramine or orlistat, acupuncture exhibited average body
weight reduction 0.65 kg and average body mass index reduction
0.83 kg m2 respectively.  Those studies showed that acupuncture
was more effective than placebo or lifestyle modification in
reducing body weight.  Acupuncture had a similar efficacy as the
Western anti-obesity drugs but with fewer reported adverse
   Other review conducted by
Zhong studied 8 clinic trials with
403 patients. They found that
compared with sham
acupuncture, acupuncture
reduced body mass index, body
weight, waist circumference, and
body fat mass percentage,
compared with conttols. The
review suggests that
acupuncture is an effective
therapy for simple obesity rather
than a placebo effect.  
   A review conducted by Zhang et al analysed 12 clinic trials
involved a total of 643 subjects including 338 participants received
acupuncture and 305 participants received sham acupuncture.  
The review found that acupuncture is able to reduce body mass
index in obese patients. The body fat mass significantly reduced in
acupuncture group, compared with sham treatment.  There were
also significant reduced in waist circumference and hip
circumference in the acupuncture compared with sham
acupuncture groups.     
    Mendonça et al reviews the effect of
auriculotherapy,  which use acupuncture points in
ear, on body weight and body mass index in
overweight and patients with obesity. The review
covers twelve studies, including four randomized
controlled trials and five investigations.  They found
that auriculotherapy was effective in reducing
weight and body mass index in overweight and
patients with obesity.  
2. Mechanisms of acupuncture for reducing body weight
  It is not clear whether acupuncture needle directly burning calories
in local point tissue plays an role in effect of acupuncture on reducing
body weight or not , but research works have shown that acupuncture
signal of weight loss is sent to brain through sensory receptor of
peripheral never, and then brain through sympathetic never system to
regulates weight reducing process.        
  1) Effect of sensory receptors of peripheral nerve in acupuncture
signal of weigh loss  
  A study investigated whether peripheral nerve transfer acupuncture
signal for lowering Cholesterol lever on rabbit animal model.  The
rabbits received acupuncture for 1-2 weeks after fed a high
cholesterol diet for two or three weeks. They found cholesterol levels
in both plasma and aortic were significantly decreased in
acupuncture rabbits. When the acupuncture point was blocked by
injection of a larger dose of novocain or by cutting the deep peroneal
nerve, the effect of  acupuncture on hypocholesterolemic was lost.
Those results showed that stimulation of sensory receptors of the
deep peroneal nerve at the acupuncture point is responsible for
transduction acupuncture signal for lowing  cholesterol level.
  There were weaker positive RSFC between INS and
supplementary motor area (SMA)/right DLPFC and weaker
negative RSFC between INS and precuneus (PCUN); stronger
negative RSFC between DLPFC and dorsomedial-prefrontal-cortex
(DMPFC) in both groups.
    32 overweight/obesity subjects were involved in long term study.
Results showed that body mass index (BMI) had significant
reduction in acupuncture group compared with Sham groups.
There were significant time effects on ALFF in right ventrolateral
prefrontalcortex (VLPFC) due to significant increases in
acupuncture group, and stronger positive RSFC between VLPFC
and orbitofrontal cortex and negative RSFC between VLPFC and
left thalamus (THA) in both groups after long-term treatment.
    These findings suggest that changes in resting-activity and
RSFC implicated in inhibitory-control, gastric-motility and
satiety-control are associated with acupuncture-induced
   2. Effect of brain in the process of acupuncture for reducing body
    A research used resting state functional MRI (RS-fMRI) and
amplitude oflow frequency fluctuation (ALFF) to investigate
acute/long-term effects of acupuncture on brain activity and resting
statefunctional connectivity (RSFC) in overweight/obesity subjects,
who received real/Sham acupuncture. For acute effects, 45
overweight/obesity subjects were divided into  acupuncture groups
and sham acupuncture groups respectively. There were significant
time effects on ALFF in the right insula (INS) and left dorsolateral
prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) due to decreases/increases in
INS/DLPFC in both groups.
     3. Effect of sympathetic never on acupuncture for weight loss.      
     The sympathetic nerves system, which is known to play a role in
thermogenesis and lipolysis by cross talk with other systems.  A
study by using high fat diet rat model found that acupuncture
increases the activity of sympathetic nerves in inguinal white
adipose tissue in rats, especially in the high fat diet rats.  
Acupuncture decrease sympathetic associated macrophage and
the level of norepinephrine transporter protein (Slc6a2). The relative
uncoupling protein 1 expression shows acupuncture increases
thermogenesis, and increases b3 receptors.  The results indicate
that acupuncture exerts its anti-obesity effect via three
mechanisms: (1) inhibition of sympathetic associated macrophage
and the norepinephrine transporter protein SlC6a2, (2) promoting
sympathetic associated macrophage activity and thermogenesis,
and (3) regulating immunologic balance to promotive effect on
3. Body weigh changes during acupuncture treatments
     Our clinic works have shown that acupuncture is an effective
therapy in reducing weight for people  with overweight or patients
with obesity. In our weight lost treatment, specific diet and specific
physical exercise do not require  during acupuncture treatments  
although we encourage our patients to try their best. Our clinic data
indicated that body weight loss by acupuncture, likes any other
approaches, such as physical exercises and diet, is not a liner
reducing process during treatment.   
    The figure on right is one of my patient’s data that detail how
body weight changes during acupuncture treatments. This patient
was 57-year-old female with 273.7 lbs of initial body weight. After
received twice per week for a total of 25 acupuncture sessions, her
body weight was reduced to 247.7 lbs, which indicates that she lost
a total of 26 lbs body weight in 25 acupuncture sessions.  Her
plateau phase (PP) was her first 4 sessions with 0.4+ 1.2 lbs body
weight change.  She had 14 acupuncture sessions in reduce
phases (RP), which is  56% of total 25 sessions.  She reduced a
total of 45.2 lbs body weight during the 14 sessions, which
indicated an average 3.22 lbs body weight reducing per sessions
in reduce phase. She had 7 acupuncture sessions in gain phases
(GP), account for 28% of total 25 sessions. She gained a total of 18
lbs body weight, which indicate an average 2.57 lbs body weight
was gained per session in gain phase.  5 months later, she came
back to my clinic. Her body weight still remained 248.8 lbs, which
indicates effect of acupuncture on body weight control remains for 5
months period at least.
     We believe at least part of the reason behind the gain phase is
the body’s ability to activate adaptive mechanisms that act to
minimize weight loss.  Many researchers have found that weight
loss is not a simple reduces fat tissue, but also triggers multiple
body’s respond processes that defend baseline body weight.
Those responds are involved in all of organs like heart, muscle
mass, bone mass and hormone levels, et al. For example, body
metabolic adaptation will increase signals for energy intake by up-
related the hunger hormone such as ghrelin.  Body metabolic
adaptation also decrease in satiety hormones such as GLP-1,
PYY, CCK, amylin. All of those responds attempt to bring body
weight to its prior “set point”, which has been slowly developed
over a number of years.  
4. References
      The changes of body weigh during acupuncture treatment have three phases. 1) Plateau phase (PP): Plateau phase usually occurs
in first 3-4 acupuncture sessions. This phase is body’s initial responds to acupuncture stimulation. The body weight slightly changes
either up or down around base line of body weight, but mean of body weight still remains same as before. 2) Reduce phase(RP): Body
weight reduces by an average of 3-3.5 lbs per session. Reduce phase usually lasts 2 to 4 continuous sessions. 3) Gain phase(GP):  In
this phase, the patient  can gain an average of 2-2.5 lb
s of body weight. This phase usually only is one acupuncture session following
reduce phase, and then immediately come back to the reduce phase.   The cycle between reduce phase and gain phase continues
during treatments.