It sounds a bit wacky, but attaching magnets to certain spots on the ears might aid in weight loss. The idea behind the science is based on acupuncture and the notion that applying pressure to specific areas of the ear can jump start and stimulate weight loss. Of course, always ask your doctor before using ear magnets to be sure they're safe for you.
Origins of Ear Magnets
The branch of alternative medicine that deals with pressure points on the ears is called auriculotherapy, and was created by Dr. Paul Nogler right after World War II. (See Reference 2 Page 68) By 1957, Dr. Nogler had conducted research that revealed that when certain spots on the ears are stimulated or pressed upon, they can affect other areas of the body. (See Reference 2 Page 68) In 1989, the World Health Organization officially recognized auriculotherapy as a valid medical treatment. (See Reference 2 Page 68) The alternative medicine method is used to promote weight loss, as well as help patients stop smoking, to help ease pain and to help treat dyslexia, according to Larry Trivieri and John W. Anderson in "Alternative Medicine, Second Edition: The Definitive Guide." (See Reference 2 Page 68)
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How The Magnets Work
Ear magnets aren't guaranteed to work, but they do hold promise. The magnets are quite tiny, and are attached to the outer ear with small bits of tape, similar to the sticky material used on adhesive bandages. (See Reference 1 Page 213) The magnets then place pressure on certain nerves that stimulate blood flow and potentially improve the function of that area of the body, according to Dr. Loren Suen, a well-known acupuncturist. (See Reference 4 Page 17) For example, magnets placed in Zone B of the ear, which is in the inner shell, can stimulate the internal and visceral organs, according to Terry Oleson, author of "Auriculotherapy Manual: Chinese and Western Systems of Ear Acupuncture." (See Reference 1 Page 210)
What the Research Says
There is some validity to the claims that attaching magnets to the ears can aid in weight loss. A 2010 article published in the "American Journal of Chinese Medicine," notes that using Japanese magnetic pearls can help decrease body mass index, or BMI. (See Reference 3) The study was done with adolescents, but the results might extend to other age groups, as well. A 2014 study published in "Acupuncture in Medicine" discovered that stimulating five points in the ear can stimulate weight loss. (See Reference 6) While this study was done with acupuncture, the pressure points for magnet treatments are the same, and applying pressure to the hunger point can be particularly effective, the article notes. (See Reference 6)
A Final Thought
Talk to your doctor about ear magnets for weight loss and whether there are potential benefits to giving the method a try. Don't, however, consider ear magnets to be a magical weight loss cure. Instead, focus on establishing healthy eating and exercise habits because taking in fewer calories and burning more calories through physical activity are the most effective ways to reach a healthy weight, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (See Reference 5) Speak with your doctor about how to make these lifestyle changes so you're able to shed excess weight and improve your health.
- Auriculotherapy Manual: Chinese and Western Systems of Ear Acupuncture; Terry Oleson
- Alternative Medicine, Second Edition: The Definitive Guide; Larry Trivieri and John W. Anderson
- American Journal of Chinese Medicine: The Effects of Auricular Acupressure on Weight Loss and Serum Lipid Levels in Overweight Adolescents
- Is There a Place For Auriculotherapy in the Realm of Nursing?; Dr. Lorna Suen
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Losing Weight
- Acupuncture in Medicine: Randomised Clinical Trial of Five Ear Acupuncture Points for the Treatment of Overweight People