Acupunct Med doi:10.1136/acupmed-2012-010127
  • Original papers

Influence of acupuncture on leptin, ghrelin, insulin and cholecystokinin in obese women: a randomised, sham-controlled preliminary trial

Press Release
  1. Cemal Çevik3
  1. 1Department of Medical Biochemistry, Etlik Zubeyde Hanim Obstetrics and Gynecology Training and Research Hospital, Ankara, Turkey
  2. 2Department of Medical Biochemistry, Ankara Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Training and Research Hospital, Ankara, Turkey
  3. 3Department of Medical Biochemistry, Gazi University Medical Faculty, Ankara, Turkey
  1. Correspondence to Dr Burak Bahar, Ankara Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Training and Research Hospital, Department of Medical Biochemistry, Turkocag'ı Sok. No: 3 Sıhhiye, Ankara, Turkey; shomenuchi{at}
  1. Contributors Details of the each author with his/her contribution in this paper is as follows: FG: sample collection, writing manuscript; BB: writing manuscript, statistics; CD: ELISA work; SM: acupuncture; CC: supervisor.

  • Accepted 4 May 2012
  • Published Online First 22 June 2012


Background Obesity is an energy balance problem caused by overeating. Obesity treatment includes diet, exercise, behaviour treatment, pharmacotherapy and surgery; in addition, acupuncture is also an option.

Objective To investigate the effect of acupuncture on weight loss and whether a brief acupuncture treatment of 5 weeks can change circulating levels of leptin, ghrelin, insulin and cholecystokinin (CCK) in obese women.

Methods 40 women with a body mass index (BMI)>30 kg/m2 were equally randomised to either an acupuncture group or a sham (non-penetrating) acupuncture group and received treatment at LI4, HT7, ST36, ST44 and SP6 bilaterally. Both groups had two sessions of 20 min/week for a total of 10 sessions. Serum insulin, leptin, plasma ghrelin and CCK levels were measured by ELISA.

Results Acupuncture treatment decreased insulin and leptin levels and induced weight loss, together with a decrease in BMI compared with sham acupuncture. Furthermore, between-group analyses demonstrated increases in plasma ghrelin and CCK levels in subjects who received acupuncture treatment.

Conclusion These findings suggest that acupuncture may help to regulate weight owing to its beneficial effects on hormones such as insulin, leptin, ghrelin and CCK in obese subjects even after a few weeks of treatment.


  • Funding The poject was fully sponsored by Gazi University Scientific Research Projects Department (grant number 01/2009-16).

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval Gazi University Ethics Committee.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.