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Does Acupuncture Work for Weight Loss?

By Nina K. ; Updated July 18, 2017

Although it may be possible that acupuncture promotes weight loss, it's simply too early to tell for certain. This form of traditional Chinese medicine, which involves inserting small needles into the skin, hasn't been studied enough to reach any conclusions. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine reports that of the research thus far, only small or poor-quality studies have determined any benefit from acupuncture.

The Research

A small study published in "Acupuncture and in Medicine" in 2013 followed 58 overweight Koreans for eight weeks. Subjects who received acupuncture of the outer ear, either in five spots or just one "hunger point," lost more weight than the control group. Those in the five-spot group saw the greatest reduction in waist size. As National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine notes, however, other studies have shown no weight-loss benefit to acupuncture. And whether acupuncture helps or not, the best way to lose weight is still to eat fewer calories and engage in more physical activity.

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