Many patients are interested in acupuncture for high blood pressure since it affects nearly a third of the U.S. population. Hypertension is a medical condition in which the blood pressure is chronically elevated (1). It is generally associated with stressful and sedentary life style.
Persistent hypertension is one of the risk factors for strokes, heart attacks, heart failure and arterial aneurysm, and is a leading cause of chronic renal failure. So it’s important to consider using acupuncture for high blood pressure if your blood pressure is at all elevated.
Blood pressure is considered normal if it’s below 120/80 mm Hg, but some data indicate that 115/75 mm Hg should be the gold standard. Once blood pressure rises above 115/75 mm Hg, the risk of cardiovascular disease begins to increase. (2)
A clinical trial testing acupuncture for high blood pressure showed evidence for acupuncture’s effectiveness for this condition. The researchers from Korea assessed effects of acupuncture as an add-on to conventional anti-hypertensive medication or lifestyle modification for forty-one hypertensive or pre-hypertensive (systolic blood pressure (BP) >/=120 mmHg or diastolic BP>/=80 mmHg) volunteers who were and randomly assigned into real or sham (fake) acupuncture groups.
The hypertensive patients on anti-hypertensive medication continued their medication. Measurements of BP were performed at baseline, at weeks 4 and 8. As a result, sham acupuncture group showed no significant difference in mean BP, while the real acupuncture group showed a significant (p<0.01) decrease in mean BP after 8 weeks of intervention from 136.8/83.7 to 122.1/76.8 mmHg (3).
An animal study performed on hamsters with induced renal hypertension showed that 30-minute daily electroacupuncture treatment of a particular point (ST-36) for 5 days reduced mean arterial pressure from 160.0 +/- 7.6 to 128.0 +/- 4.3 mmHg (mean +/- SEM), compared to 115.0 +/- 7.2 mmHg in sham-operated (control) hamsters (4).
These particular studies do not offer the mechanism for the decrease in blood pressure. I hope to add new studies soon that will explain why acupuncture for high blood pressure works.
1. Retrieved 05/18/07 from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypertension
2. Retrieved 05/18/07 from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/high-blood-pressure
3. Yin, C., B. Seo, H.J. Park et al. 2007. Acupuncture, a promising adjunctive therapy for essential hypertension: a double-blind, randomized, controlled trial. Neurol. Res. 29 Suppl.1: 98-103.
4. Kim, D. D., A.M. Pica, R.G Duran et al. 2006. Acupuncture reduces experimental renovascular hypertension through mechanisms involving nitric oxide synthases. Microcirculation. 13(7):577-85.