News Release

Electroacupuncture may improve regulation of blood sugar in overweight and obese women

New research in The FASEB Journal suggests that electric stimulation of needles placed in muscle and adipose tissue activates adipose tissue metabolism and also stimulates muscle contraction

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology

For women who are overweight or obese and are unable to exercise, new research appearing online in The FASEB Journal suggests combining acupuncture with an electrical current may help. In the report, an international team of researchers used electroacupuncture to assist with muscle contraction, which led to improved blood sugar regulation. This research also may benefit women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), the most common hormonal disorder among women, which is associated with prediabetes and an increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

"This study has the potential to gain better quality of life for patients with prediabetes and reduced capacity to regulate blood sugar levels, especially for those who have difficulties performing voluntary exercise," said Elisabet Stener-Victorin, Ph.D., associate professor and study author at the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology and Reproductive Endocrinology and Metabolism, Karolinska Institutet, in Stockholm, Sweden.

The scientists used a cohort of overweight and obese women with and without PCOS. Changes in blood sugar levels were measured during and after 45 minutes of acupuncture. Blood glucose regulation was improved in both women with and without PCOS after 45 minutes of treatment. Researchers also used a group of rats to investigate the mechanism leading to blood glucose uptake. They found that electroacupuncture causing muscle contractions activates the autonomic nervous system in rats and that the blood glucose-regulating effect was reversed by administering drugs that block the autonomic receptors. This study has important clinical implications for patients with prediabetes and a reduced ability to regulate blood sugar levels.

"Acupuncture is tried and true, for at least certain symptoms," said Thoru Pederson, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal. "Here we have a new possibility centered on a disease of massive morbidity."


Submit to The FASEB Journal by visiting, and receive monthly highlights by signing up at The FASEB Journal is published by the Federation of the American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB). It is among the world's most cited biology journals, according to the Institute for Scientific Information, and has been recognized by the Special Libraries Association as one of the top 100 most influential biomedical journals of the past century.

Details: Anna Benrick, Milana Kokosar, Min Hu, Martin Larsson, Manuel Maliqueo, Rodrigo Rodrigues Marcondes, Marzia Soligo, Virginia Protto, Elisabet Jerlhag, Antonina Sazonova, Carl Johan Behre, Kurt Højlund, Peter Thorén, and Elisabet Stener-Victorin. Autonomic nervous system activation mediates the increase in whole-body glucose uptake in response to electroacupuncture. FASEB J. doi:10.1096/fj.201601381R ;

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