Acupuncture, a traditional Chinese medical practice, has been explored as a potential aid in the journey towards weight loss. With its roots dating back thousands of years, acupuncture is founded on the concept of balancing the body's energy flow, or qi, to improve overall well-being. In recent times, it has gained attention for its role in managing weight by targeting specific acupuncture points that could influence factors like metabolism, appetite and stress.

While acupuncture for weight loss is considered a viable means to assist you on your weight loss journey, it's important to do your own research on this topic before seeing an Acupuncturist. Various studies have examined the effects of acupuncture on weight management, providing a mix of both positive results and calls for more research. It is considered a complementary therapy, which means it is often used in conjunction with traditional weight loss methods such as diet and exercise. For individuals seeking alternative therapies, acupuncture presents an option worth considering, but it’s essential to do so with realistic expectations and an understanding of the evidence supporting its efficacy.

Key Takeaways

  • Acupuncture aims to balance energy flow for overall health, including potential weight management.
  • Research on acupuncture for weight loss shows mixed results, indicating a need for more studies.
  • Acupuncture is often used alongside conventional weight loss methods, not as a standalone treatment.

Key Takeaways

  • Potential Weight Loss Aid: Some studies suggest that acupuncture can complement weight loss efforts, potentially influencing factors that contribute to obesity.
  • Holistic Approach: Acupuncture is often viewed as part of a holistic plan that includes a balanced diet and regular exercise.
  • Personalised Treatments: Acupuncture therapies are typically tailored to meet the individual needs of a person seeking weight loss support.
  • Research Limitations: Despite some supportive findings, research on acupuncture for weight loss has limitations and has produced mixed results. More high-quality studies are needed.
  • Obesity Factors: Acupuncture may target multiple factors associated with obesity, such as energy flow (chi), which is thought to impact weight gain according to some acupuncture advocates.
Evidence Level
Research is promising but not conclusive.
Complementary Tool
Acupuncture is one part of a broader weight management strategy.
Individual Differences
Effects can vary depending on the individual's condition.
Diet and Exercise
Necessary to support the potential benefits of acupuncture.
Practitioner Expertise
Important to seek treatment from a qualified professional.

Patients interested in using acupuncture for weight loss should consult with healthcare providers and licensed acupuncturists to explore if this option aligns with their individual health goals and needs. It is critical to approach acupuncture as a complement to a healthy lifestyle rather than a standalone solution.

Overview of Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medical practice that involves the insertion of very thin needles into specific points on the body, known as "acupoints." The practice is grounded in the concept of Qi (pronounced "chee"), which is often described as the body's vital energy or life force. Acupuncturists believe that stimulating these points can correct imbalances in the flow of Qi through channels known as meridians.

The practice of acupuncture is diverse, with variations in techniques based on the country and individual practitioner. However, it typically includes the following procedural elements:

  • Assessment: The practitioner will assess a patient's condition and identify the appropriate acupoints to target.
  • Needle insertion: Needles are inserted to various depths at strategic points. Patients may feel a tingling sensation, warmth, or nothing at all.
  • Needle manipulation: The practitioner may gently twirl or electrically energise the needles to enhance the effect.
  • Removal: After a period of time, usually between 15 to 30 minutes, the needles are removed.

Acupuncture is generally considered safe when performed by a trained practitioner using sterile needles. Improper needle placement, depth of needle insertion, or unhygienic practices can result in complications. These risks, however, are low.

While traditionally used to treat a variety of ailments from chronic pain to digestive disruptions, it is also increasingly explored in the West as a tool for weight management. Researchers are studying its potential impact on metabolism, appetite suppression, and stress reduction, which all contribute to weight loss. Clinical evidence, however, varies in quality, and the efficacy of acupuncture for weight loss remains under investigation.

May help correct Qi imbalances
Quality of evidence varies
Can be a holistic part of wellness
Effectiveness for weight loss is under study
Targets various physiological aspects
Requires a trained practitioner

Principles of Acupuncture for Weight Loss

Acupuncture, an ancient form of traditional Chinese medicine, involves the insertion of very fine needles into specific points on the body to promote healing and wellness. When applied to weight loss, acupuncture follows principles aimed at improving body function and encouraging natural weight management.

  • Energy Balance: Practitioners believe that acupuncture can restore balance to the flow of energy, or qi (chi), in the body, which is essential for good health, including maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Digestive Improvement: By targeting specific acupuncture points, the goal is to enhance the function of the digestive system, potentially leading to more efficient metabolism and waste elimination.
  • Hormonal Regulation: Acupuncture may influence hormones that regulate appetite and metabolism, such as ghrelin and leptin, aiding in the reduction of appetite and cravings.
  • Stress Reduction: Acupuncture is often employed to reduce stress and anxiety, factors that can lead to stress eating and weight gain. A calmer state of mind can help one make healthier food choices and stick to a diet plan.
Target Area
Intended Effect
Strengthen digestion
Water retention management
Endocrine System
Hormonal balance
Appetite control

The practice of acupuncture for weight loss focuses on a holistic approach, suggesting that engagement in regular exercise and a balanced diet are essential for efficacy. Acupuncturists often recommend combining treatments with lifestyle changes for sustainable weight loss. To learn what research says about this method, please refer to a comprehensive review on Medical News Today.

Acupuncture Points for Weight Management

In the context of weight management, specific acupuncture points are targeted to regulate appetite, digestion, and metabolism. These points are primarily focused on the ear and the body, each offering pathways to assist in the weight loss process.

Ear Acupuncture Points

Ear acupuncture, also known as auriculotherapy, is commonly used in the domain of weight loss. Practitioners believe that stimulating certain ear points can influence the body's appetite and cravings. Notably, points on the outer ear are said to correspond to areas of the body that, when activated, can help balance hormones related to hunger and satiety.

  • Hunger Point: This point is believed to control appetite and can be stimulated to potentially reduce food cravings.
  • Shenmen Point: Said to have a calming effect, it might help alleviate stress which often contributes to overeating.

A study referenced by Verywell Health underlines the potential role of ear acupuncture in balancing hormones that regulate cravings and appetite, indicating a link between auricular stimulation and weight management.

Body Acupuncture Points

In addition to the ear, body acupuncture points are also crucial in the process. By stimulating these, practitioners aim to improve digestive efficiency and boost metabolic rate – both vital components of weight management.

Commonly targeted body points include:

  • Stomach 36 (ST36): Located on the leg, stimulating ST36 may enhance digestive functions.
  • Spleen 6 (SP6): This point can be found on the inner leg; it is often used to influence metabolism and digestion.

The integration of body acupuncture points with lifestyle adjustments, such as maintaining a nutritious diet and including regular exercise, may amplify weight loss efforts as suggested in an article on the Australian Natural Therapists Association website.

Scientific Evidence on Acupuncture and Weight Loss

Clinical studies have examined the effect of acupuncture on obesity. A systematic review and meta-analysis highlighted that acupuncture, when compared to placebo or sham treatments, showed a significant reduction in body weight. Specifically, subjects who received acupuncture treatments experienced an average weight loss of 1.56 kg.

Research suggests possible mechanisms for this weight loss. Acupuncture might influence body weight by acting on biochemical markers associated with obesity, such as leptin and ghrelin, which are hormones involved in hunger and satiety. It could also impact glucose and lipid metabolism, insulin resistance, and inflammation, which are critical factors in the development and maintenance of obesity.

Key Points from Clinical Studies:

  • Efficacy: Various types of acupuncture, including auricular acupuncture, have been associated with weight reduction outcomes.
  • Safety and Cost-Effectiveness: Acupuncture is touted to be a safe and cost-effective option, yet evidence on its safety is still emerging.

Theories behind acupuncture point to a potential neuroendocrine mechanism, where it may regulate weight by affecting the nervous and hormonal systems. A review of acupuncture's clinical efficacy asserts that understanding these mechanisms can help in justifying its use for patients looking to manage obesity. Despite supporting evidence, more high-quality, controlled trials are urged by the scientific community as the existing literature presents variability in study design, sample size, and methodological rigor.

Combining Acupuncture with Diet and Exercise

Optimal weight loss is most effectively achieved when acupuncture is used in conjunction with a tailored diet and physical activity plan. This integrative approach supports the body's metabolism and contributes to sustainable weight management.

Dietary Considerations with Acupuncture

Acupuncture is believed to enhance digestive function and manage appetite, making it essential for individuals to consume a diet that complements these effects. Key components of such a diet include:

  • Whole Foods: Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains promote satiety and provide essential nutrients without excess calories.
  • Lean Proteins: Foods like chicken, fish, and tofu supply the body with the building blocks for muscle repair and growth while keeping calorie intake in check.
  • Minimally Processed Foods: Limiting processed foods helps reduce the intake of refined sugars and unhealthy fats, which is conducive to weight loss.

Exercise Plans Supporting Acupuncture

Regular exercise is a cornerstone of weight management. When paired with acupuncture, a strategic exercise regimen could:

  • Increase Metabolism: Activities such as cardio and strength training boost the body's energy expenditure.
  • Build Muscle Mass: More muscle leads to higher resting metabolic rates, aiding in weight loss even during periods of rest.

By adopting a regimen that includes aerobic exercises and resistance training, one can synergistically enhance the weight loss effects of acupuncture.

Treatment Protocols

When addressing weight loss through acupuncture, treatment protocols involve specific parameters, including the frequency and duration of sessions, which are tailored to meet the individual's needs.

Frequency of Sessions

  • Initial Phase: Typically, practitioners recommend starting with more frequent sessions, often two to three times per week.
  • Maintenance Phase: Once progress is observed, the frequency can be reduced to once a week or even bi-weekly to solidify the benefits.

Duration of Treatment

  • Short-Term Protocol: For some, a short-term treatment plan may last four to six weeks, aiming at a targeted weight loss goal.
  • Long-Term Engagement: Those seeking sustained weight management might expect a duration of several months, with ongoing evaluation and adjustments.

Safety and Side Effects

When considering acupuncture for weight loss, it's important to prioritise safety and be aware of potential side effects. Properly administering acupuncture is essential to minimise risks.

The Importance of Losing Weight Safely

Weight loss should be approached with caution and care to avoid adverse effects on one's health. Acupuncture for weight loss should only be performed by a trained and licensed practitioner, as the proficiency of the acupuncturist plays a crucial role in ensuring treatment safety.

Common Side Effects

While acupuncture is generally considered safe, common side effects may include:

  • Soreness: At needle insertion sites
  • Minor bleeding or bruising: Usually localised and temporary
  • Fatigue: Some individuals may feel tired post-treatment
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness: Often a brief reaction immediately after treatment

If side effects persist, patients are advised to consult their practitioner.

Contraindications and Precautions

Acupuncture may not be suitable for everyone. People with certain conditions should exercise caution:

  • Bleeding disorders or on blood thinners: Increased risk of bleeding or bruising
  • Pregnancy: Some acupuncture points could potentially stimulate labor
  • Infectious skin disease or open wounds: Risk of infection
  • Severe psychiatric conditions: Treatment protocols may be altered

It is incumbent upon individuals to disclose their full medical history to their acupuncturist prior to treatment.

Qualifications of Acupuncture Practitioners

Acupuncture is a practice involving the insertion of fine needles into the body and is considered a form of traditional Chinese medicine. It requires a specific skill set and educational background. Here's an outline of the typical qualifications and requirements that acupuncture practitioners must meet:

  • Educational Requirements: Practitioners generally need to complete a degree in acupuncture or traditional Chinese medicine from an accredited institution. The program typically covers both theoretical and practical aspects of the practice.
  • Licensing: Each country, and often specific regions within countries, have their own licensing requirements. In Australia, for example, practitioners must be registered with the Chinese Medicine Board of Australia.
  • Continuing Professional Development: Practitioners are encouraged to keep their knowledge up to date through ongoing education and practical experience.

Examples of Details Covered in Training Programs:

  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Acupuncture points and meridians
  • Techniques and instrument handling
  • Diagnosis and treatment planning

Successful practitioners combine this knowledge with a good understanding of general health, nutrition, and other complementary therapies to support weight loss. It's advised for individuals seeking acupuncture treatments for weight loss to consult certified practitioners who meet these stringent qualifications.

Cost and Accessibility

When considering acupuncture for weight loss, potential patients should be aware of the associated costs, as these can vary based on several factors. Acupuncture treatments for weight loss typically require multiple sessions, so it's essential to account for the cumulative cost.

Average Costs:

  • Initial consultation and session: Often higher due to the initial assessment
  • Ongoing sessions: May be offered at a reduced rate after the first visit

Factors Influencing Cost:

  • Location: Urban centers may have higher fees
  • Practitioner experience: More experienced acupuncturists often charge more
  • Treatment frequency: Discounts may be available for multiple sessions

Patients should also investigate if health insurance policies cover acupuncture, as this can significantly reduce out-of-pocket expenses. Some providers offer sliding scale fees based on income, making it more accessible for those with financial constraints.

Accessibility is also a crucial consideration. Urban areas typically have a greater number of practitioners, which can increase convenience but also competition, potentially affecting cost. Treatment frequency could be a logistical challenge for those with limited access to acupuncture services.

Finally, one should consider the potential for complimentary services, such as dietary or herbal recommendations, which could incur additional costs. It is advisable to discuss all these aspects with a chosen provider before commencing treatment.

Below is a simplified cost table from available data:

Median Cost
Back Pain Treatment
Smoking Cessation
Weight Loss

For detailed pricing strategies and factors, one can refer to natural therapy and medical information websites like this one.

Alternative Therapies and Complementary Practices

In the realm of weight loss, acupuncture is often highlighted as a traditional Chinese medical practice that involves inserting thin needles into specific points on the body, known as acupoints. Researchers suggest that acupuncture may influence weight loss by increasing metabolism, regulating obesity-related neuropeptides, and reducing triglycerides and cholesterol levels. The detailed mechanisms, however, remain a subject of ongoing study.

Beyond acupuncture, other practices, labeled as complementary and alternative therapies (CATs), are also explored for weight management. These include a variety of non-mainstream approaches, such as:

  • Herbal Medicine: Utilises plant-based substances for their potential therapeutic properties.
  • Chiropractic Care: Focuses on manual adjustment of the spine to improve health.
  • Hypnotherapy: Employs guided relaxation and concentrated attention to achieve a state of heightened awareness, potentially influencing behavior and decision-making related to food.

Safety and EfficacyA crucial consideration with CATs for weight loss is the evidence supporting their effectiveness and safety profiles. While some, like acupuncture, have been studied extensively, others may lack significant scientific backing or require further validation.

AdvisoryIt is important for individuals to consult healthcare professionals before commencing any CATs to understand the potential benefits and risks. Medical guidance ensures that weight loss efforts are not only aligned with individuals' health goals but are also conducted in a safe and supervised manner.


The effectiveness of acupuncture in the realm of weight loss has been supported by various studies. According to a systematic review and meta-analysis, acupuncture can lead to modest weight reduction and improvements in obesity-related biomarkers. The subjects' body weight showed an average decrease when acupuncture was used compared to placebo or sham treatments. Moreover, the research reveals an impact on obesity-related peptides, insulin resistance, and inflammatory markers, that acupuncture can influence.

Acupuncture's ability to stimulate the body's energy flow—chi—may extend its benefits beyond simple weight loss. Advocates suggest its potential in reversing factors contributing to obesity, which supports its multifaceted role in weight management.

It is important, however, to consider these findings with an understanding of acupuncture's limitations and the necessity of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. It should complement, not replace, other weight loss efforts such as diet and exercise. Patients seeking acupuncture should do so with realistic expectations and under the guidance of licensed professionals.

While the mechanism by which acupuncture aids weight reduction is not fully delineated, research posits its regulatory effects on various physiological pathways (Acupuncture therapies for individuals with overweight or obesity). As more studies emerge, the understanding of acupuncture's role in obesity treatment may be further refined, solidifying its place within integrative health practices.


1. What are the potential benefits and drawbacks of using acupuncture as a method to lose weight?


  • Appetite Suppression: Acupuncture may help reduce appetite, making it easier to consume fewer calories.
  • Stress Reduction: By lowering stress levels, acupuncture can decrease stress eating and the production of cortisol, a hormone linked to weight gain.
  • Metabolic Boost: Some believe acupuncture can enhance metabolism, aiding in more efficient fat burning and weight management.
  • Holistic Approach: Acupuncture treats the body as a whole, addressing underlying health issues that may contribute to weight gain.


  • Varied Results: Acupuncture's effectiveness for weight loss can vary widely among individuals.
  • Supplementary Method: It's often most effective when combined with diet, exercise, and other lifestyle changes, rather than used in isolation.
  • Cost and Time: Regular sessions can be costly and time-consuming, requiring a commitment for sustained results.
  • Limited Research: There's limited scientific research directly linking acupuncture to significant weight loss.

2. Can acupuncture alone lead to significant weight loss, and what do studies suggest?

Acupuncture alone is unlikely to lead to significant weight loss. Studies on acupuncture for weight loss provide mixed results, with some suggesting minor benefits in conjunction with lifestyle changes, while others find no significant difference when compared to control groups. The consensus in the scientific community is that acupuncture may support weight loss efforts, particularly through appetite suppression and stress reduction, but it should not be relied upon as the sole method of weight loss.

3. How does acupuncture aim to promote weight loss, are there specific points targeted?

Acupuncture aims to promote weight loss by targeting specific points on the body that are believed to influence factors related to obesity, such as:

  • Appetite control: Points on the ear are often targeted to help reduce appetite.
  • Digestive health: Points that purportedly improve digestion and nutrient absorption can be focused on.
  • Stress reduction: Points that help manage stress and anxiety, which can contribute to weight gain, are also targeted.
  • Metabolic boost: Some points are believed to enhance metabolism, aiding in fat burning.

4. What can one expect from an acupuncture session aimed at weight loss in terms of procedure and duration?

During an acupuncture session for weight loss, fine needles are inserted into specific points on the body related to appetite control, metabolism, and stress management. Sessions typically last between 30 to 60 minutes. The practitioner may also incorporate other TCM techniques such as moxibustion or cupping. The duration of the treatment plan can vary, often involving multiple sessions over weeks or months, depending on individual goals and responses to the treatment.

5. Are the effects of acupuncture for weight loss sustainable and do they require lifestyle changes?

The sustainability of acupuncture effects for weight loss largely depends on accompanying lifestyle changes. While acupuncture may provide initial support in weight management efforts, such as reducing cravings or stress, long-term success usually requires adopting a healthy diet, regular physical activity, and overall lifestyle modifications. Without these changes, the effects of acupuncture on weight loss may not be sustainable in the long term.

6. What do personal success stories and clinical reviews say about the effectiveness of acupuncture for weight loss?

Personal success stories often highlight positive experiences with acupuncture for weight loss, including reduced appetite, increased energy levels, and improved overall well-being. However, clinical reviews and research studies present a more mixed picture, with some indicating modest benefits and others showing no significant impact compared to placebo treatments. It's important to note that individual results can vary greatly, and what works for one person may not work for another. The effectiveness of acupuncture for weight loss is best viewed as part of a comprehensive approach involving diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes.

At Brisbane Livewell Clinic, you are able to see a Dietician, Naturopath, Clinical Nutritionist and Hypnotherapist to complement your Acupuncture for weight loss journey.

Last Updated on 7 March 2024 by Brisbane Livewell Clinic