Acupuncture May Reduce Blood Pressure in Hypertensives
Acupuncture is an ancient form of Chinese medicine that utilizes pins to stimulate points on the body in order to treat a variety of illnesses. A recent study is the first to scientifically confirm that acupuncture treatment may help lower blood pressure in hypertensives.
Participants in the study included 65 people with high blood pressure who were not taking any medication for their condition. Half of the group was treated with electroacupuncture — which uses low-intensity electrical stimulation — on both sides of the inner wrists and just below each knee. The other half of the group acted as controls by receiving electroacupuncture at other points on the forearm and lower leg.
The researchers noted blood pressure drops in 70% of the participants who received electroacupuncture on both sides of the inner wrists and just below each knee. This group had an average reduction of 6 to 8 mmHg for systolic blood pressure and 4 mmHg for diastolic blood pressure. The researchers noted that the improvements were sustained for a month and a half after the treatments.
Additionally, the researchers observed significantly lower blood concentration levels of norepinephrine (41% lower). Norepinephrine constricts blood vessels and increases blood pressure and glucose levels. They also noted 67% lower levels of renin, which is an enzyme produced in the kidneys that helps regulate blood pressure. Finally, this group had 22% lower aldosterone, which is a hormone that regulates electrolytes.
There was no change in blood pressure noted in the control group.
Researchers from the University of California, Irvine, conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on August 3, 2015, in the journal Medical Acupuncture.
Previous studies have linked acupuncture to alleviating pain for patients following surgery, decreasing menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and reducing chemotherapy-induced nausea. Another benefit of acupuncture is that is has less negative side effects than prescription medication.