Objectives: The purpose of this study is to investigate the weight loss effects of auricular acupuncture in obese patients.
Methods: Six databases (Research Information Sharing Service [RISS], Korean studies Information Service System [KISS], Oriental Medicine Advanced Searching Integrated System [OASIS], PubMed, The Cochrane Library, China National Knowledge Infrastructure [CNKI]) were searched up to May 20, 2020. Eight eligible randomized controlled trials were included the present study. The quality of included studies was assessed by the Cochrane risk of bias tool and a meta-analysis was performed by Review Manager software. A meta-analysis was conducted using a random-effects model and a subgroup analysis was performed to detect the sources of heterogeneity, identify the selection of acupuncture methods and explore its contributions to the weight loss effects.
Results: Among 8 trials, 5 trials used auricular acupuncture and 2 trials used auricular acupressure, 1 trial used both types of intervention. Most commonly selected acupoints were Shenmen (TF4) and stomach (CO4). Treatment duration was six to twelve weeks, and total treatment session was six to twelve. Compared to the control groups, auricular acupuncture significantly decreased body weight, body mass index (BMI), high density lipoprotein-cholesterol (HDL) and ghrelin. For the selection of acupuncture methods, both methods performed similarly in most outcome except waist circumference (WC), body fat percentage (BFP), and triglycerides (TG).
Conclusions: We found that auricular acupuncture can be effective for weight loss and controlling appetite. However, the findings should be interpreted with caution due to heterogeneity. So further vigorous and well-designed studies should be conducted to strengthen the evidence of the use of auricular acupuncture for obesity.