The preponderance of early literature on ear acupuncture centered on the topics of weight reduction, drug withdrawal, and pain control. As a result, this has been the common impression that the public and medical doctors have on the applicability of ear acupuncture, although as we have seen, its usefulness is almost unlimited. The overall conclusion from such studies unequivocally supports the use of auricular acupuncture to treat these difficultto-treat disorders. There are certainly limitations to its use, however.These behavioral problems have complex and intricate social, cultural, physical, and emotional components. The value of auricular acupuncture is clearly evident, however, and it can be used as a valuable part of weight reduction, drug withdrawal, or pain control plans.
The Stomach point is obviously a point to incorporate into the treatment of obesity and weight loss. Apostolos Apostolopoulos2 explains, “The organ points are found within the vagal zone, which has a parasympathetic innervation. The regional action of the Stomach point is related to the vagus nerve. As such, the Stomach point serves to reduce of motility of the stomach in particular and of the digestive tract in general. On the other hand, it also has the effect of reducing the secretion of gastric acid, which is under the control of the sympathetic nervous system. The clinical effects of these actions diminish the sense of hunger.”
Other studies corroborate this concept. “Not only does acupuncture stimulate the auricular branch of the vagus nerve, but it also raises serotonin levels, both of which have been shown to increase tone in the smooth muscle of the stomach, thus suppressing appetite. In one particular study, 95% of overweight subjects noticed suppression of appetite when electric stimulation was applied to the Shenmen and Stomach points. No participants in the control group noticed such a change. The study concluded that frequent stimulation of specific auricular points is an effective method of appetit suppression, which leads to weight loss.”3
In an earlier study by Alkaysi et al.4 on pathological obesity (defined as weight 20% greater than one’s ideal body weight), “Electroacupuncture was applied to the following points: Anus, Ear Apex, Adrenal, Forehead, Temple, Tooth. The explanation for the use of these points was not provided in the study. Good results were obtained and the authors concluded that auricular acupuncture stimulation is a suitable method of treating pathological obesity.”
Further studies in obesity showed that “points relating to weight loss cause a reduction in insulin at the time of an empty stomach.”5 Weight loss studies also maintain a tenet that makes sense because of the multiple functions of the ear points and demonstrates that auricular treatment is not only symptomatic. B. Xu6 found, “Not only can weight be lost, but improvement in body function can be obtained.”
The conclusion from many weight loss protocols is that Stomach and Shenmen are the two primary points involved in weight loss. The Stomach point directly affects Stomach function and controls physiological scenarios that suppress hunger, reduce appetite, and improve overall Stomach organ function. Shenmen reduces the anxiety, nervousness, and restlessness associated with weight loss.
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