Always ravenous? Now you can actually zap away your hunger. Electroacupuncture (acupuncture with an electric current), along with a reduced-calorie diet, suppressed appetite and helped overweight people burn more fat in a recent study.
Why it works
Electroacupuncture lowers blood levels of the hunger-regulating hormone leptin, researchers say. Leptin normally tells you when you're full, but if you're overweight, leptin can become chronically elevated, leading to resistance and missing of the "full" signal. Electro acupuncture seems to act on the hypothalamus, the brain area that releases hunger hormones, and has a calming effect, which can reduce stress eating, says Daniel Hsu, a licensed acupuncturist in New York City.
What you can expect
As with traditional acupuncture, a practitioner places needles on specific points on the body, says Steve Compton, assistant professor of acupuncture at Northwestern Health Sciences University. The needles are then attached (via wires with small metal clips) to a device that releases electric pulses. The intensity of the current can be adjusted to your comfort level—you may feel a mild tingling or pulsing, says Compton. A session lasts 20 to 30 minutes and, ideally, is repeated once or twice a week for 3 to 6 weeks, whether the treatment is for pain relief or weight management.
Find a practitioner
Search the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine's directory at nccaom.org to find licensed acupuncturists. Many have experience with electroacupuncture; those who don't should refer you to someone who does, says Compton. Expect to pay a bit more for an electroacupuncture session—Compton adds $10 to his traditional acupuncture fee of $70.