The Effects of Auricular Acupressure on Weight Loss and Serum Lipid Levels

, The American Journal of Chinese Medicine, Vol. 38, No. 04, pp. 675-682 (2010)

This randomised controlled trial examined the effect of pressure on ear acupuncture points on weight loss in young people with a high BMI. Typically ear points are stimulated with needles or with seeds that can be taped onto the point and pressed at intervals.

In this study the ear points related to hunger and stomach function were pressed with vaccaria seeds or with magnetic pellets for ten minutes once a week. Even with such a low intensity of treatment BMI was seen to reduce significantly in the active groups, although lipid profiles did not improve with this treatment.

Larger trials are needed to confirm this result before clinical recommendations are made.


Auricular acupressure is widely used to reduce body weight. The current study was designed to test the efficacy of auricular acupressure on weight reduction and serum total cholesterol (TC), total triglycerides (TG), high density lipids (HDL) and low density lipids (LDL) in an eight-week, randomized controlled trial of three groups of 84 adolescents aged 18–20 with a body mass index (BMI) of 23 or higher. The control group received tape treatment only and the other two experimental groups were administered acupressure using either Japanese Magnetic Pearls or vaccaria seeds. All three groups were educated on reduced calorie diets, physical activity, weight loss, and lifestyle modification. During the eight-week trial, all participants were seen weekly for 10 min per session. Anthropometric measurements of BMI and TC, TG, HDL, and LDL were performed at weeks 0 and 8 for all participants. Changes in BMI, TC, TG, HDL, and LDL were calculated from baseline to trial completion. BMI was significantly increased in the control group by +0.0457 (p < 0.0001), it was decreased in the Japanese Magnetic Pearl group by -0.6982 (p < 0.0001) and the vaccaria seed group by -1.2341 (p < 0.0001). All three groups showed significant increases in TC, TG, HDL, and LDL.

In conclusion, the current study shows that auricular acupressure employing Japanese Magnetic Pearls or vaccaria seeds can decrease BMI, with the vaccaria seed method showing the greatest reduction. Auricular acupressure did not result in decreased TC, TG, HDL, or LDL in the current eight-week protocol.