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Summaries of recent papers
  1. Adrian White1,
  2. Amer Sheikh2
  1. 1Primary Care Group, Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry, Plymouth, UK
  2. 2Ashford Health Centre, Ashford Hospital, Ashford, Middlesex, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Adrian White, Primary Care Group, Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry, N21 ITTC Building, Tamar Science Park, Plymouth PL6 8BX, UK; Adrian.white{at}

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Clinical research

Weight loss

▸ Schukro RP, Heiserer C, Michalek-Sauberer A, et al. The effects of auricular electroacupuncture on obesity in female patients—a prospective randomized placebo-controlled pilot study. Complement Ther Med 2014;22:21–5.

Double-blind RCT on auricular EA (n=56).


Fifty-six obese women (adults with Body Mass Index (BMI) >25) were randomised to receive either auricular acupuncture with electrical stimulation with a P-Stim device (verum group, n=28) or placebo treatment with a P-Stim dummy (n=28) for four day courses of treatment. This is a battery-operated stimulation device worn behind the ear emitting biphasic 2 mA pulses at 1 Hz for 3 s on and 3 s off. Leads were attached to semi-permanent needles in three auricular acupuncture points (Hunger 18, Stomach 87 and Colon 91). The treatment was performed once a week for a period of 6 weeks. Final follow-up occurred 4 weeks after the last treatment. At each visit body weight, BMI and body fat were measured. Participants were also given a dietary consultation (it is not clear whether dietary advice was tailored). Sample size was calculated.


Data on only 42 participants were available at follow-up. Relative reduction of body weight was significantly greater in the verum group (−3.73%; 95% CI −4.70 to −2.76) than in the placebo group (−0.70%; CI −1.57 to +0.16; p<0.001; figure 1). A significant reduction in BMI (p<0.001) was also observed in the verum group (−3.62%; CI −4.39 to −2.84) compared to placebo (−0.82%; CI −1.55 to −0.10; p<0.001). Eight participants reported skin irritation from the adhesive patch of the P-Stim device.

Figure 1

Body weight (kg). Based on Complement Ther Med 2014;22:21–5.


Double-blinding was claimed, but not checked. Interestingly, the treatment group continued to lose weight after the course of treatment, which could indicate either a continuing effect or some difference between the groups such as motivation levels. It is implied, though not stated categorically, that the sham …

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