No, stapling your ears won't help you lose weight

The good people at Weird Universe found an odd entry in the The Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine and Self-Help (1978) about "staplepuncture," stapling a patient's ears at a particular acupuncture point promising it will help them stop overeating, smoking, or drinking too much. Turns out, this isn't just retro-quackery! The respected Cleveland Clinic posted a recent warning about the "dangers of ear stapling" as people are still enamored by the idea:

You may already be familiar with reflexology, a massage therapy technique built on the philosophy that different parts of the foot correspond to different parts of your body. Auricular acupuncture operates from the same basic premise: Your ear is, essentially, a mini-you, with the cartilage slightly above the tragus representing your appetite[…]

Ear stapling trades the acupuncture needle for a small, thin surgical staple, which — after being placed — gets left in the ear for anywhere from a few weeks to several months.

In most cases, practitioners charge by the staple and — as you might expect — they usually recommend getting both ears done. Supposedly, the effects of the staple "wear off" after a while, so the procedure has to be repeated over and over again.

Theoretically, the surgical staple continually stimulates your abdominal organs, thereby suppressing your appetite[…]

If you Google "ear stapling," you'll see testimonials from people claiming it helped them lose weight. You'll also see some devotees assert that it eliminates migraines, nicotine cravings and insomnia.

What you won't see is any scientific proof to back those claims up or doctors extolling the practice's health benefits. There's some evidence supporting the use of auricular acupuncture for weight loss, but — while some acupuncturists offer the service — ear stapling isn't the same thing as auricular acupuncture.