Does Acupuncture Work for Weight Loss?


According to many research studies, acupuncture works well for weight loss (Kim, Shin, & Park, 2018). The type of acupuncture that is particularly popular, effective, and widely studied for weight loss is ear acupuncture (Pangestu, Dewi, & Prasetya, 2021), which is often used either as a stand-alone treatment or as part of a more traditional point combination. Research has shown that changes in diet and lifestyle “have limited sustainable impact” (Lillingston, Fields, & Waechter, 2019), and acupuncture takes a while to have a desirable effect. Experiments have been conducted since the 1970s, and they demonstrated that combining acupuncture with dietary and lifestyle changes appears to be much more effective than each of these approaches taken separately.

How Does Acupuncture Work for Weight Loss?

Many patients who received between one and five treatment report that they simply do not feel hungry. Once they no longer feel hunger, the patients keep coming for treatment about once or twice a week (the exact number of sessions depends on an individual patient), to make sure their appetite does not come back soon, and as a result they lose weight. It is advisable to combine points on the ear with points on the limbs and torso, because there is usually a reason for a person to gain weight. In large modern cities, one of the most common reasons is stress, and using acupuncture the way it is recommended to be used traditionally can restore the balance among internal organs, thus relieving such harmful irritants as stress.

How Long Does It Take to Lose Weight Using Acupuncture?

Typically, losing weight with acupuncture takes between two weeks and four months. Interestingly and importantly, many of those patients who lose weight over a longer period of time have greater control over not gaining the weight back. The key appears to be in selecting the right combination of dietary and lifestyle changes with regular acupuncture treatments, which are typically more frequent at the beginning and become more widely separated—from three times a week, for example, to once every two weeks—as the desired weight loss is achieved.


  1. Kim, S. Y., Shin, I. S., & Park, Y. J. (2018). Effect of acupuncture and intervention types on weight loss: a systematic review and meta‐analysis. Obesity Reviews19(11), 1585-1596.
  2. Lillingston, F., Fields, P., & Waechter, R. (2019). Auricular acupuncture associated with reduced waist circumference in overweight women-A Randomized controlled trial. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine2019.
  3. Pangestu, U., Dewi, Y. L. R., & Prasetya, H. (2021). The Effect of Ear Acupuncture in Reducing Body Weight in Obesity Patients: A Meta-Analysis. Indonesian Journal of Medicine6(1), 23-31.