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Complement Ther Med. 2014 Feb;22(1):21-5. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2013.10.002. Epub 2013 Oct 31.

The effects of auricular electroacupuncture on obesity in female patients--a prospective randomized placebo-controlled pilot study.

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Department of Special Anaesthesia and Pain Therapy, Medical University of Vienna, Austria. Electronic address:
Department of Surgery, General Hospital Steyr, Steyr, Austria.
Department of Special Anaesthesia and Pain Therapy, Medical University of Vienna, Austria.
Center for Medical Statistics, Informatics, and Intelligent Systems, Medical University Vienna, Austria.



Obesity is a chronic condition related to serious morbidity and mortality of increasing incidence and prevalence. Several studies show a significantly higher weight loss with acupuncture treatment. This is the first prospective, randomized, double-blinded study, testing the effects of auricular electroacupuncture on weight loss in obese female patients.


56 female obese patients (age>18, Body Mass Index, BMI>25) were randomized to receive either auricular acupuncture with electrical stimulation with a P-Stim® device (verum group, n=28) or placebo treatment with a P-Stim® dummy (n=28) for four days. Three auricular acupuncture points were chosen (hunger 18, stomach 87 and colon 91). The treatment was performed once a week for a period of six weeks. A follow-up visit was performed after 4 weeks. At each visit body weight, BMI (Body Mass Index) and body fat were measured.


Relative reduction of body weight was significantly greater in the verum group (-3.73%; CI=-4.70 to -2.76) than in the placebo group (-0.70%; CI=-1.57 to +0.16; p<0.001) In addition we also observed a significant reduction of BMI (p<0.001) in the verum group (-3.62%; CI=-4.39 to -2.84) compared to placebo (-0.82%; CI=-1.55 to -0.10; p<0.001). No patient reported side effects related to acupuncture.


In conclusion electrical auricular acupuncture could be a safe, additive, non-pharmacological treatment in obese patients.


Auricular acupuncture; Electroacupuncture; Obesity

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