Can Ear Acupuncture Help You Lose Weight?

Don’t like hitting the gym, or cutting out carbs and fats from your diet? Good news — a new weight loss movement claims you can shed excess pounds by getting acupuncture on your ear.

According to acupuncturist Shu-Kai Tsao of the Chinese Health and Beauty Institute in San Antonio, Texas, ear stapling or ear taping can help patients lose weight by using a small tape with herbal seed, or a tiny needle that attaches to the ear.

Similar to other acupuncture techniques, which typically leave needles in for approximately 15 to 30 minutes, ear stapling targets pressure points on the ear that are allegedly connected to the stomach. Typically, only one pressure point is necessary to control hunger and appetite, but for those who are more obese, four additional points on the ear may also be used to promote metabolic function.

“We want to adjust the body balance and improve the body digestion and your absorption, that way you don’t eat so much,” Tsao told KENS 5 News.

Other medical professionals, though, question ear stapling’s efficacy.

“In the right hands definitely, acupuncture is certainly a therapy,” Dr. Richard Peterson of the Christus Santa Rosa Health System conceded to KENS 5, but also questioned whether using an ear tape or needle could help a patient actually lose weight, as there’s no scientific study proving that the procedure actually works.

According to Peterson, an ear tape or needle could — at best — cause a placebo effect motivating patients to help themselves lose weight, or — at worst — cause an infection.

“It might be more mindfulness that people are aware of that they actually have this procedure done. And in addition, that’s typically in conjunction with a diet or exercise program,” Peterson said.

Tsao, whose place of work gets one or two patients looking to try ear stapling or taping, said the proof is in the results his patients see without needing to exercise.

“Some patients see the results like every week if they do it consistently,” said Tsao. “This is not something western medicine can prove for evidence.”

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