Article Text

Download PDFPDF

The effects of auricular acupuncture on weight reduction and feeding-related cytokines: a pilot study
  1. Hisayuki Ito1,
  2. Osamu Yamada2,
  3. Yuji Kira3,
  4. Takeshi Tanaka4,
  5. Rumiko Matsuoka5
  1. 1KOSAI Oriental Healthcare Center, Tokyo, Japan
  2. 2Faculty of Health Care, Teikyo Heisei University, Tokyo, Japan
  3. 3Showa General Hospital, Tokyo, Japan
  4. 4Department of Research Support, Tokyo Women's Medical University, Tokyo, Japan
  5. 5Wakamatsu Kawada Clinic, Tokyo, Japan
  1. Correspondence to Dr Osamu Yamada; yamadao{at}


Objective Auricular acupuncture is a common therapy used to control appetite; however, the underlying mechanism(s) of action is unclear. The present study examined changes in feeding behaviour and in the levels of several appetite-related hormones in response to auricular acupuncture, and attempted to identify the mechanism(s) by which this traditional medical treatment exerts its effects.

Methods Ten healthy adult volunteers (nine female and one male) were recruited by the KOSAI Oriental Healthcare Center. The participants were randomly assigned to one of two groups (n=5 per group): an acupuncture group and a placebo group. Each received detention needle stimulus on a weekly basis for 1 month. Changes in diet, body weight, blood pressure and blood biochemistry were evaluated before treatment and at 1 week after the start of treatment.

Results The difference in weight before treatment and after 1 week of treatment was significant for all participants in the acupuncture group (p=0.02). The percentage changes in active ghrelin in the acupuncture group were no significant changes observed in active ghrelin levels at 1 week after acupuncture in any individual participant (p=0.89). By contrast, the percentage changes in active ghrelin levels in the placebo group at 1 week after the start of acupuncture were significant (p=0.04). The insulin, adrenocorticotropic hormone, leptin and adiponectin levels did not change significantly in either group.

Conclusions There was a statistically significant difference in the percentage change in body weight and active ghrelin levels in each individual participant in auricular acupuncture groups. This is a pilot study and the sample number is small; however, auricular acupuncture may reduce appetite by suppressing ghrelin production.

  • DIET

This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See:

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.