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▸ 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.
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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