Acupuncture as an Alternative Treatment for Weight Loss

Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese technique with more than 2000 years of existence. This practice is based on the belief that a special energy known as “Qi” flows all over our body through some invisible paths called “meridians”. Acupuncturists try to manipulate this vital energy in order to bring the body back to balance. Scientists are still not sure how acupuncture affects the human body in such a positive way. In the case of obesity patients, it helps them to reduce stress, suppress appetite and even boost metabolism.

How Does Acupuncture Works?

The first step of acupuncture, is knowing about the current health condition of the patient. According to the Chinese tradition, tongue diagnosis is a good method to know which health issues the patient might have.

After the initial health check, the patient must lie down on a special table designed for acupuncture sessions. The next step is the insertion of the needles. In this part of the treatment, the acupuncturist will wipe the areas with alcohol, and then, he/she will place between 5 and 20 special needles around the patient’s body. The needles will stay in for 15 to 30 minutes. Even if it sounds as an uncomfortable procedure, the size of the needles is between 12 and 40 millimeters, which means it is hard to even feel them. After the session, you may not feel any immediate effect, rather than a relaxing or energizing sensation.

Can We Really Lose Weight with Acupuncture?

There is still not enough scientific evidence in order to prove that acupuncture is a real and effective treatment for overweightness. Although, there are many testimonies of people who suffered weight-related problems, and they point to the fact that acupuncture is a good natural method for weight control.

In the year of 2009, the International Journal of Obesity published a research in which some specialists analyzed 31 acupuncture-related studies, those studies included a total of 3,013 participants. They found out, that acupuncture was directly linked to a significant reduction of body weight.

Another clinical study was made in 2012, in this research, they offered either real acupuncture treatments or fake ones to 40 women. Researchers gave them two 20-minute sessions per week for a total of 5 weeks. After this time period, insulin, leptin and body mas levels were measured. The results showed a significant decrease of those 3 aspects on the women who received the real acupuncture treatment.

Acupuncture’s effectiveness on weight loss was also tested in a 2009 study, when a group of specialists chose 27 women with more than 30% overweight. The test population was divided in three different groups. The firsts group was submitted to a diet and exercise plan, the second group followed the same 2 steps than the firsts group, but with the difference of adding acupuncture treatments to the therapy plan, and the third group did not follow any treatment. After the 8 weeks of treatment, body mass index was reduced on the first two groups, but the authors could not find any significant difference between them. In conclusion, the authors stated that acupuncture did not make any important difference compared to just exercising and having a good diet.

Acupuncture’s Side Effects

There is a very small probability of experiencing negative side effects with acupuncture therapies, but still we need to be aware of what might happen. First of all, you always need to be sure you are choosing a licensed and qualified acupuncturist in order to decrease the risks. Some of the consequences that might occur as result of a bad acupuncture treatment are: infections, soreness and even organ damage. People with bleeding disorder, compromised immune system, pacemaker or pregnant women, are not recommended to receive acupuncture treatments without first consulting a medical specialist.


Even though acupuncture is a real and effective treatment for many medical conditions including obesity and some other weight-related health problems, you should always consult a health specialist before taking any alternative treatment.