Chinese Medicine: Treating High Blood Pressure with Acupuncture

Researches from the Center of Integrative Medicine, U.C. Irvine in collaboration with East Hospital in Shanghai, China, and the Southern CA University of Health Sciences recently published an article on the long term effects of weekly electro-acupuncture on mild to moderate hypertension.

Researches from the Center of Integrative Medicine, U.C. Irvine in collaboration with East Hospital in Shanghai, China, and the Southern CA University of Health Sciences recently published an article in the Medical Acupuncture Magazine on the effects of electro- acupuncture on reducing blood pressure among patients with hypertension.

High blood pressure is a common condition affecting people around the globe.  According to the CDC, in the United States alone, one of three the adult population is suffering from hypertension.   It is known that the incidence of hypertension increases with age, and only half of the people manage to have their condition under control.  Uncontrolled hypertension is therefore, many time complicated with additional medical conditions such as diabetes and stroke.   The total cost of hypertension in the nation is averaging on $46 billion each year!

Many individuals, especially among the aging population, suffer from adverse effects of the anti- hypertensive pharmaceutical drugs. As a result, it has been suggested that people with blood pressure levels greater than 120/80 mmHg should consider complementary methods to help decrease blood pressure, when clinically suitable.

Nevertheless, western medical physicians are still reluctant to recommend acupuncture for their hypertensive patients because its treatment efficacy remains controversial and the underlying physiologic mechanisms of the acupuncture effects on hypertension are not clear.

The effects of acupuncture in hypertensive patients was evaluation over several studies but was,  unfortunately, found to be inconclusive; while some researchers suggested that acupuncture can decrease elevated blood pressure, others concluded that there is little or no effect.  There were also some floes in the studies design including small sample size, lack of randomization, and lack of follow up period.

In their study, the researchers attempted to overcome these weaknesses and produce a solid research with a good number of participants; 65 total which were randomly assigned to one of  two acupuncture intervention (33 control group versus 32 in the patient group).  Participants had also an eight weeks follow where the research outcomes were obtained by double-blinded evaluation.

Primary outcomes measuring effectiveness of Electrical Acupuncture were peak and average Systolic Blood Pressure (SBP- higher number) and Diastolic Blood Pressure (DBP- lower number). Secondary outcomes aimed to examine the underlying mechanisms of acupuncture.  This was done by testing some of the blood plasma components such as norepinephrine, renin, and aldosterone before and after 8 weeks of treatment.

The current study, showed that weekly electro-acupuncture treatments on Acupuncture points PC 5-6 (Jian Shi & Nei Guan) and ST 36-37 (Su San Li & Shang Ju Xu) for an 8 weeks period decreases blood pressure for a prolonged period in patients with mild to moderate hypertension. The research was also able to show that the reason  electro acupuncture was effective on reducing the elevated SBP is related reduction in sympathetic nerve system activity of the body, and consequently the circulation of norepinephrine, renin, and aldosterone which affect blood pressure levels.

 
 

 
 

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