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A metabolomic study has found that, with one notable exception, acupuncture treatment had no effect on anthropometric and serum metabolic parameters, compared with sham acupuncture. In a randomised trial, 120 obese participants were randomised to two groups. The treatment group received a combined intervention of manual acupuncture (MA) plus electro-acupuncture (EA), while the control group received a combination of sham MA plus sham EA, for a period of six weeks. Acupuncture points for MA were bilateral Hegu L.I.-4, Guchi L.I.-11, Sanyinjiao SP-6, Zusanli ST-36, Qihai REN-6 and Zhongwan REN-12. EA (25/60 Hz) was carried out at bilateral Tianshu ST-25 and Shuidao ST-28 (Shuidao). Body weight, BMI and waist circumference were found to have significantly improved in both groups after six weeks of treatment. However the only between-group difference noted was in levels of carnitines, which were significantly increased in the acupuncture treatment group compared with controls. The authors postulate that an increase in carnitine levels might have a beneficial effect on obesity in the long-term, since carnitine supports energy metabolism by transporting long-chain fatty acids into mitochondria to be oxidised for energy production.

Effects of acupuncture on anthropometric and serum metabolic parameters in premenopausal overweight and obese women: a randomized, patient- and assessor-blind, sham-controlled clinical trial. Acupunct Med. 2021 Feb;39(1):30-40.